The Tata Group has always had a succession of Illustrious, far-sighted leaders who have kept it ahead of the pack. Right from the late Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata in 1868 to his great grandson Mr. Tatan Tata, the men who have led the Tata Group have had extraordinary competencies. This made it all the more difficult to select the next Tata Titan, a befitting heir to succeed Mr. Ratan Tata, the man during whose tenure the group's revenues have grown nearly 12-fold, totaling over $83 billion in 2010-11. The mystery that shrouded the high-profile global search finally came to an end on
November 23, 2011, when the five-member panel, formed by the Tata Sons to name a successor to Mr. Tatan Tata, announced Mr. Cyrus Pallonji Mistry as the next head of the sprawling Tata Empire.
Considered a dark horse, the 43-year-old Mr. Cyrus Mistry is the Managing Director of the $2.5 billion shapoorji Pallonji (SP) Group, the largest individual shareholder in Tata Sons, with 18 percent stake. He is the youngest son of construction tycoon Mr. Pallonji Mistry. After completing his schooling from The Cathedral and John Connon School in Mumbai, Mr. Mistry moved to London for higher studies. He graduated in Civil Engineering from Imperial College, UK in 1990 and also obtained an M.Sc. in Management from the London Business School. In 1991, Mr. Mistry joined the board of shapoorji Pallonji and Co.—a firm his grandfather founded—where he looked after construction and infrastructure. His big break came as Chairman of Afcons Infrastructure Ltd., the construction company the SP Group acquired in 1994, Mr. Mistry was appointed the Managing Director of the SP Group. In a decade and a half he has been at the helm of the Rs. 9,000 crore group, Mr. Mistry has helped it build an impressive portfolio. The tallest residential building in India, the longest rail bridge, the largest affordable housing project, the largest mall and the largest cement clinker plant in Asia—he claims all these and more as the group's icons. According to the data on the Bombay Stock Exchange, Mr. Mistry is on the board of 14 unlisted companies and two listed ones—Forbes and Co. and Gokak Textiles—within the group. Mr. Mistry was inducted into the Board of Tata Sons in 2006, after his father's retirement. In him, there is a continuity of thought process, one that gells well with Mr. Ratan Tata himself. Besides, he is also known to be a humble person, very much like his predecessor. It is because of this similarity in nature and attitude to Mr. Ratan Tata that he gets along famously with the present Tata Group Chairman and is also supposed to be one of his favourites.
Thus, even though a non-Tata, Mr. Mistry is perhaps the best choice to take charge of the Tata Group. He was appointed the Deputy Chairman of Tata Sons, the group s holding company, w.e.f. November 23, 2011. Soon after this, he stepped down as the Managing Director from the shapoorji Pallonji Group to avoid conflict of interest. A day after Mr. Mistry was named Mr. Tatan Tata's successor as the Tata Group chief, the stocks of a number of companies from the salt-to-software conglomerate soared higher on the bourses, adding more than one billion dollars to the combined market value of the business house. Mr. Ratan Tata will work with Mr. Mistry for the rest of his term, to ensure a smooth transition, and then hand over the reins in December 2012, when he retires.