10 things you didn’t know about Natarajan Chandrasekaran
Natarajan Chandrasekaran is the chairman of Tata Sons. This is notable as the latter is the owner of Tata Group, which has the honor of being India’s largest conglomerate. Interested people may have seen Chandrasekaran’s name popping up in the news lately because he has been appointed to head Air India until a CEO can be appointed.
1. Born in Mohanur, Tamil Nadu
Chandrasekaran was born in the village of Mohanur in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Chances are, those interested can guess that he came from very humble beginnings. However, Chandrasekaran now heads one of the largest conglomerates not only in India but also in the rest of the world.
2. Education was his way out
For context, Chandrasekaran was born into a farming family. Therefore, it would not have been surprising if he had followed in the footsteps of his farming family by becoming a farmer himself. Instead, Chandrasekaran was one of the people who managed to find a way out of the life that was meant for them. For him, that issue was education.
3. I went to Coimbatore Institute of Technology
Initially, Chandrasekaran went to a Tamil government school. Later, he was able to attend Coimbatore Institute of Technology, which is an engineering school located in the city of Coimbatore in the state of Tamil Nadu. The said school was founded in 1956. As such, the Coimbatore Institute of Technology would have only been in existence for a few decades by the time Chandrasekaran went there, seeing as he was born in 1963. After that , he went for a master’s degree at the Regional College of Engineering, Tiruchirappalli, which is now the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli.
4. He had an interest in computer programming
One of the reasons Chandrasekaran went down this path was his passion for computer programming, which would still have been a novelty at that time. His interest can be seen in how his master’s degree was in computer applications even though his bachelor’s degree was in applied science.
5. Rose High At Tata Consultancy Services
The Tata Group includes a wide range of businesses under its umbrella. To cite just one example, there is Tata Consultancy Services, which specializes in IT services as well as consultancy. It was where Chandrasekaran started as a trainee. After which he continued to climb to the top. In fact, it is worth mentioning that Chandrasekaran served as both COO and CEO of Tata Consultancy Services, which means he served as both second-in-command and first-in-command. Moreover, he attained the latter position while still in his 40s, which made him one of the youngest CEOs of the Tata Group at the time.
6. Earned the name Chandra
Chandrasekaran’s long service with the Tata group earned him the name Chandra. It seems safe to say that this is no small honor. After all, Chandra has meanings such as ‘shining’, ‘shining’ and ‘twinkling’, which make sense as it is the name of the Hindu moon god. Oddly enough, Chandra is also often referred to as Soma, although this has sparked serious debate due to the uncertainty of when it started being a thing. Some scholars think it was something as far back as the Vedas. In contrast, other scholars believe that it was not a thing before post-Vedic literature. This is relevant as Soma was the presiding god over a kind of herbal intoxicating drink as well as the drink itself in the Vedas, which is why Chandra is associated with plants. Either way, the name has a lot of positive connotations.
7. Passionate about marathons
It seems safe to say that Chandrasekaran is in very good physical condition. Indeed, one of his hobbies would be to run marathons, which are always 26.2 miles in distance. According to the story, such races were inspired by an ancient Greek herald named Pheidippides, who traveled about 150 miles from Athens to Sparta in two days with the aim of asking for help against the Persians at Marathon. After which he rode about 25 miles to Marathon, then about 25 miles to Athens to announce the Athenian victory, at which point he fell dead from exhaustion. Sharp-eyed people might have noticed that he ran 25 miles instead of 26.2 miles. Indeed, Queen Alexandra of the United Kingdom requested the extension so that the youngest members of the British royal family could see the marathon from their nursery during the 1908 Olympics in London. Something stuck.
8. There was a legal battle over him becoming the chairman of Tata Sons
There was a whole legal battle for Chandrasekaran to become the chairman of Tata Sons. His predecessor in this post was Cyrus Mistry, who was offered a chance to resign but refused. As a result, the board voted to remove him from his position before replacing him with Chandrasekaran. The National Company Law Court ruled in favor of the Board of Directors. Then the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal ruled in favor of Mistry. The legal battle was only resolved in 2020 by the Supreme Court of India.
9. Oversaw the acquisition of Air India
In recent times, Chandrasekaran has overseen the acquisition of Air India, which would be the country’s flag carrier. It can be argued that this is somewhat of a return to basics. After all, Air India started as Tata Airlines in 1932 before being nationalized in 1953. Over the past few decades, there have been more than one attempt to privatize the airline, with the last attempt succeeding in October 2021.
10. Oversee Air India for now
Currently, Chandrasekaran oversees Air India. However, a CEO is needed because there is a lot to do at the airline. The most recent attempt to secure a CEO for Air India failed because the candidate was met with a backlash from the public, so the search is ongoing.