Out of this pandemic will come revolutionary solutions, says Ratan Tata

Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata Trusts, is hopeful about the future despite the pandemic. He wishes to see India become an economic powerhouse, driven by creativity and ethical behaviour of its young population.

Ratan Tata in conversation with Shradha Sharma

Speaking about the current unprecedented global crisis, Ratan Naval Tata, Chairman of the Tata Trusts, said, in times like these, we as human beings start looking for solutions.

“We are in an arena we are not familiar with...We tend to be more innovative and creative to find solutions,” he said in a virtual YourStory Leadership Talk interview with YourStory Media Founder and CEO, Shradha Sharma.

The leadership talk with Ratan Tata saw around 40,000 people tune in live, where he spoke about the COVID-19 crisis, the highs and lows in his career, the dilemma of choosing between ethics and profits, startups, and his personal investments. 

Watch the full interaction here:

Ethics vs Profits

Young entrepreneurs are often torn between two things -- profit and purpose of their ventures. This is mostly because a company is reviewed for its performance and the profits it generates. Numbers shield and often camouflage what is inside the company -- its work culture and ethics. To this, Ratan Tata said, “All of us want to be successful, and the means to gauge that success is profits.” 

However, while profits are very much a concern for any business, the more important question is, ‘What would you do to achieve those profits?’ For this, Ratan Tata said young entrepreneurs should remember the purpose of their businesses or venture.

“You are in the business to serve your customers, your shareholders, and all your stakeholders. Do it ethically, and do not jeopardise the safety,” he said. 

According to Ratan Tata, sometimes entrepreneurs may make bad decisions or experience difficulties. During such times, it is important to note how one reflects or reacts to those downturns. The greatest thing one can do as a manager is when they return home at the end of the day, they should be able to say that they did the right thing, although it might have been difficult. 

Ratan Tata said, we are currently in such a situation where there is no hiding or running away. There is no escape from COVID-19.

“Whatever your reasons may be, you have to change in terms of what you consider fair or good or necessary in order to survive,” he said. This is not the time when we can isolate ourselves and continue doing what we do, he added. 

He also spoke how companies, across sectors, have resorted to layoffs during the pandemic. However, according to him, “That is not going to solve the problem.” He said, businesses should have a responsibility towards their employees.  

Ratan Naval Tata, Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons and Chairman of the Tata Trusts.

Investing in startups 

Over the last couple of years, Ratan Tata, who calls himself an ‘accidental investor’, has invested in over two dozen startups. He has been an investor in Ola, Paytm, IdeaChakki, Ola Electric, NestAway, Snapdeal, Xiaomi, Urban Ladder, and many other startups. 

During the virtual live interaction, when asked about the most fun and memorable moments at work, Ratan Tata said that looking back, he cannot pick and choose any one instance. It is an aggregation of experiences, he feels, that made up the interesting times in his career. 

Ratan Tata explained that getting involved in personal investments and supporting startups has been a learning experience for him.

“I do not have any magic grail...I have chosen to support enterprises that seem to attract me from the founders’ position and from what the company is trying to do,” he said. 

Betting on the youth 

For a long time now, Ratan Tata is known for resonating with the youth of the country. We have previously written about youngsters talking about their experiences with the industrialist and philanthropist here, here, and here.  

During the leadership talk with YourStory, Ratan Tata said, “Today, we are talking about the young people of India, who are the larger parts of the population in many countries. I am proud of the fact that we have a group of innovative and creative people who make successes of their young lives. I just wish to see the day when India really becomes the economic powerhouse, driven by the creativity and the ethical behaviour of its young population.” 

Following the nearly hour-long live interaction with YourStory, he took to Instagram and wrote:

“I always enjoyed the company of the spirited and enthusiastic youth of the country. The energy is truly infectious and they make me feel that I haven’t aged at all.”

Locked up in his house with his dogs since the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown, Ratan Tata is hopeful about the future of the country and the world. He said:

“Out of this adversity will come some interesting and revolutionary solutions. We should not lose hope… and understand and cooperate with the forces trying to find solutions.” 
Edited by Megha Reddy


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