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Newsmaker of the year: Cyrus Mistry

Last updated on: December 30, 2011 16:35 IST

Newsmaker of the year: Cyrus Mistry

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Arijit Barman in Mumbai

He is shy and reclusive like his predecessor, and just as meticulous, analytical and intellectually curious while being humble about it all.

Like JRD Tata, he also loves Cantonese-style Chinese takeaway from Colaba's cult restaurant Ling's Pavilion.

But destiny's child, Cyrus Mistry has got a lot more going for him, to have emerged this year as the most deserving candidate to lead the House of Tatas from 2013 onwards.

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Image: Cyrus Mistry.


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Newsmaker of the year: Cyrus Mistry

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He has already been in the Tata Sons board for over five years and as its youngest member has always been vocal about the strategic path the group should take in the coming years.

In fact, Cyrus's appointment is actually a continuity of a thought process that even Ratan Tata subscribes to, who has been a champion of young blood and ideas.

"There has always been a strong chemistry between the two," quips JJ Irani, former Tata Sons director. "In board meetings, Mr Tata would often seek out his advice."

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Image: Ratan Tata.


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Newsmaker of the year: Cyrus Mistry

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Moreover, at 43, Mistry has age on his side and 25 long years ahead of him to chart out his own leadership course.
Tata himself wanted somebody young.

His colleague on the Tata Sons board, R Gopalakrishnan, had also echoed a similar sentiment.

"Just like Ratan Tata, Cyrus too will enjoy the advantage of a long innings. And he will now get mentored by Tata himself and other senior leaders like RK Krishna Kumar."

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Image: R Gopalakrishnan, Executive Director, Tata Sons.


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Newsmaker of the year: Cyrus Mistry

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"It couldn't have been a better fit," says Suhel Seth, Managing Partner Counselage, and a close Tata Group associate.

Many would argue that the decision was inevitable. It cannot be ignored that Cyrus happens to be the youngest son of Pallonji Shapoorji Mistry -- the single largest shareholder in Tata Sons.

The relationship between the two families has remained bitter-sweet over generations. But unlike his father, Pallonji -- whom Tata Group chroniclers call the Phantom of Bombay House -- has been relatively unobtrusive and obsessively private.

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Image: Shapoorji Pallonji's The Imperial Tower - Mumbai's tallest residential complex.


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Newsmaker of the year: Cyrus Mistry

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He's a billionaire himself -- ninth richest on the Forbes India rich list -- and that too largely by his own right.   

Ratan Tata always wanted the House of Tatas to transcend beyond the family name into a standalone global corporate brand where the Tata moniter was only a coincidence.

With the delinking in place, Ratan Tata has ensured that it is up to meritocracy to take that brand forward.

The message to all family-run businesses could not have been clearer.

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Image: Shapoorji Pallonji's retail property in Vadodara.


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Newsmaker of the year: Cyrus Mistry

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RNT, as friends call Ratan, never really wanted 'to get out in a wheelchair.'

Over the next one year, as he and his brain-trusts will groom Cyrus to enable the transition, it will be a testimony of his commitment, sincerity and precision.

It's a step in a whole new direction.

As young minds and ideas increasingly come to the forefront, Cyrus will have to keep a fine balance to continue the thread of history and legacy while charting out a newer leadership blueprint for himself.


Image: Bombay House, Tata Sons' head office.

Tags: RNT

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