Ratan Tata (Image: Facebook/ Humans of Bombay)
Most people would agree that an internship with Tata Motors would be an eye-opening experience into the workings of a major industry.
Not Ratan Tata.
The former Tata Sons chairman, in the second installment of a three-part interview with Humans of Bombay (HOB), recalled that his first internship at Tata Motors was "a total waste of time". He said he was shuffled from department to department without anybody actually telling him what to do.
"I guess, I was looked at as a family member, so no one said anything to me," he said, adding that he spent six months merely trying to make himself look useful.
Also read : When Ratan Tata fell in love and ‘almost got married'
Tata added that the switch to Tata Steel was where his job started getting interesting. He noted that starting his work right from the bottom helped him really understand the plight of those around him.
"Which is why, years later, when we had to downsize Tata Steel from 78,000 people to 40,000 we made sure they were paid their present day wages until the day of retirement -- it’s been an inherent part of our DNA to serve those who serve us," he said.
Speaking on another major life event, Tata recalled that his predecessor, JRD Tata, faced a lot of criticism when he appointed Rata Tata as chairman of Tata Sons in 1991.
"In 1991, JRD held the position of Group Chairman, and the Chairman of Tata Industries, which he stepped down from. At first, there was no criticism, but when he decided to step down from Tata Sons, there was vicious criticism," Tata told HOB.
He added that there were many other aspirants for the position which gave rise to quite a few issues, with many saying that JRD Tata had made the wrong decision.
Tata went on to say, "If you were to find the publications of that time, the criticism was personal -- JRD got clubbed with nepotism and I was branded as the wrong choice."
Despite the criticism, Tata said he did what he knew best and "maintained a dignified silence," and stayed focused on proving himself. He said that even though he was being observed closely by many, the time he spent on the floor working helped him the most.
In the first part of his interview, he talked about his time in Los Angeles, when he fell in love and "almost got married".