TRICHY: The National Institute of Technology-Trichy (NIT-T), earlier known as Regional Engineering College (REC), was a turning point in the career of N Chandrasekaran, chairman designate of Tata Sons.
History would have been different for him and the holding company of the Tata Group that he now chairs had he pursued his early interest — chartered accountancy — and not joined the first batch to take the Masters in Computer Application (MCA) course at REC in 1983.
After graduating from Coimbatore Institute of Technology that year, Chandrasekaran learnt of the launch of the MCA course at REC. He cracked the entrance test and decided to go for it. “One of the brightest students at REC, Chandrasekaran was always surrounded by friends, be it in the classroom or in the hostel,” said N P Gopal, the MCA department’s senior-most faculty member
“Chandra was an excellent manager right from his college days and was able to hone his skills in management,” he said, adding that it helped him excel in a career spanning over three decades.
It wasn’t an easy decision to take up a newly launched course but his advocate father motivated him to go for it, he said.
He finished three projects at Tata Consultancy Services in his last semester and joined the company in 1987. After that, there was no looking back. He went on to become the CEO of the company, which grew to be the most successful in the Tata Group.
The former head of the MCA department at NIT-T, Anish Kumar Banerjee, told TOIover the phone from Kolkata, “When I met him in 2014, before retirement, he was CEO of a reputed company.
I am delighted to know that he has now become chairman of Tata Sons. It always feels great when you see your students grow.”
Chandrasekaran was conferred the ‘Distinguished Alumni Award’ by NIT-T in 2014 when he visited the institute last. In an unprecedented move in NIT-T, a whole day was dedicated for him to provide an opportunity to students to interact with one of the most successful CEOs.
Recollecting Chandra’s interaction with the students, the head of training and placement department, A K Bakthavatsalam, said it was amusing to hear him express his “inability to write a good resume” for he never had an opportunity to move out of TCS.
Chandra was also awestruck by a short film made by the students after elaborate research on him. Right from introducing some of his old classmates, the film had mentioned even his teacher in the sixth grade, Kannammal.
It was she who inspired him to solve problems around him and his organisation, recollected Bakthavatsalam. “Something that sets Chandra apart is his ability to see opportunity in crisis,’ says senior professor of chemical engineering N Ananthakrishnan. One such example was the Y2k phenomenon.
While the rest of the world was panicking, Chandra and TCS used this as an opportunity to turn around their business fortunes,” he said. “Once we tried to get an appointment with former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus P Mistry through Chandra.
But the plan was subsequently dropped after coming to know that he was engaged for the next two years. Now that our own alumnus is the chairman we will try to call him to his alma mater for graduation day,” said S R Balasundaram, head of the MCA department at NIT.