Tata Steel chief T V Narendran takes over as President of Confederation of Indian Industry

T V Narendran has taken over as the president of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) for 2021-22. The Tata Steel MD and CEO takes over as the chief of the industry body at a time when India is gradually emerging out of the deadly, second wave of COVID-19. The 56-year-old Tata Steel chief has succeeded Kotak Mahindra Bank MD and CEO Uday Kotak as the new CII chief.

It is rather reassuring that Mr Narendran, who is also the global MD and CEO of the Mumbai-headquartered steel-maker, will be heading the CII at this crucial juncture. A Tata Steel veteran, Mr Narendran –who makes it a point to run 10K (10,000 m or 10 km) even today – has improved the prospects of the Rs 1,56,294-crore steel behemoth after taking over as its CEO in 2013.

In fact, Mr Narendran joined Tata Steel in 1988 immediately after completing his MBA from IIM Calcutta. Mr Narendran – who had graduated in mechanical engineering from Regional Engineering College, Tiruchirappalli – started his career in Tata Steel’s International Trading Division.

As the chief of Marketing & Sales Division, Mr Narendran – the wicket-keeper and all-rounder, who still squeezes his busy schedule to play cricket – had played a key role in building the Tata Tiscon brand and its distribution network. He was also actively involved in Tata Steel’s first overseas acquisition, NatSteel. After taking over as president and CEO of NatSteel in 2008, he played a key role in its integration with Tata Steel.

Interestingly, Mr Narendran’s appointment as Tata Steel MD came as a surprise for many in the industry. Mr Narendran was seen as a marketing veteran, who had spent considerable years outside India. On the contrary, his predecessors were from the operational side. Mr Narendran’s choice has incidentally helped the company refocus on producing more of what can be sold profitably. In some of the segments, Tata Steel now operates more like a consumer durables company, bringing in higher margins.

As the MD and CEO, he oversaw the organic and inorganic growth of Tata Steel over the last few years. He successfully steered Kalinganagar plant’s greenfield expansion and helmed the acquisitions of Bhushan Steel and the steel business of Usha Martin. Despite many setbacks, Tata Steel has become a leaner company by expanding its India business and shedding much of the weight of its loss-making European operations. With 34 mt consolidated annual production, Tata Steel has emerged as the country’s largest steel producer by capacity – including the capacities of Bhushan Steel, Usha Martin and its European operations.

Apart from growing Tata Steel’s business and solving the challenges posed by its European operations, Mr Narendran, as CII president, seems to have taken up burning, national issues head on. He is already seized of the matters related to falling corporate investments, sliding capacity utilisation as well as mounting job losses, all of which have hit the economy very badly. Perhaps, Mr Narendran’s rich experience at Tata Steel could help find some solutions to the current economic crisis.

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