Lesser-known facts about the business tycoon : Ratan Tata

Well-known industrialist and philanthropist, Ratan Naval Tata, turns 84 today. Under Ratan Tata, the salt-to-software conglomerate grew by more than 40 times—from $5.7 billion in 1991 to around $103 billion in 2016. He also led historical mergers for his company including the Land Rover Jaguar and Tetley Tea deals. The chairman emeritus of the Tata Group, Ratan Tata is also well known for his philanthropy.

Some lesser-known facts about Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata's father was adopted by Ratanji Tata

Naval Tata, Ratan Tata's father, was raised in an orphanage and was later adopted by Ratanji Tata. Naval Tata was also biologically related to the Tata family—his biological maternal grandmother was the sister of Hirabai Tata, wife of Jamshedji Tata.

On December 28, 1937, Ratan Tata was born in Surat, Gujarat. However, when he was 10 years old, his parents—Naval and Sooni Tata—separated. Thereafter, he was raised by his grandmother Navajbai Tata, the widow of Ratanji Tata.

Ratan Tata's first job was shovelling limestone

Despite being the scion of the Tata Group, Ratan Tata had a humble beginning. After receiving his college education from Harvard Business School, he was offered a job by IBM but he chose to join the family business. He started with Tata Steel and worked on the shop floor where he would shovel limestone into the furnace. At times, he would be in charge of handling the furnace.

Ratan Tata, an architect

While it is well known that Ratan Tata is a skilled pilot, not many know he is also an alumnus of the Cornell University College of Architecture. In fact, Ratan Tata practised as an architect for two years before joining the family business.

Tata Hall in Harvard Business School

Ratan Tata pooled in a sum of $50 million to construct an executive centre at the Harvard Business School. As a gesture of gratitude, the Harvard Business School named the centre Tata Hall after him.

Key milestones

It is well known that Ratan Tata delivered on his promise of an affordable Nano car. But his career is packed with much bigger achievements in terms of profitability. Under his leadership, a joint venture was formed between the Tata Group and American International Group Inc. He also designed and launched the Indica car, which was India's first indigenously developed car. Ratan Tata also acquired VSNL, which was India's top international telecom service provider of its time.

Ratan Tata is 'Sir' Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata was awarded the Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2009. And the Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 2014 for his instrumental role in improving ties between India and England.

Loves dogs and cars

Ratan Naval Tata loves his cars. He has a high-end collection of cars, including Ferrari California, Cadillac XLR, Land Rover Freelander, Chrysler Sebring, Honda Civic, Mercedes Benz S-Class, Maserati Quattroporte, Mercedes Benz 500 SL, Jaguar F-Type, and Jaguar XF-R, among others.

Besides cars, Ratan Tata also has great affection for dogs. The Bombay House, which is the headquarters of Tata Sons, has a tradition of letting stray dogs in during rain spells. The property even has a play area—with toys, food, and water—for dogs.

Close to getting hitched

Ratan Tata is unmarried but he has admitted he came close to tying the knot four times in his life. He couldn't go ahead for various reasons.