Executive Director for Tata Ltd Dr David Landsman OBE says Tata remains firmly part of your diplomatic family
ONCE AGAIN, I’M DELIGHTED to offer Tata’s support to Diplomat magazine’s annual awards for a third year running. First of all, our sincere congratulations to all the winners.
We are fortunate to work with many members of the London Diplomatic Corps and we certainly appreciate the hard work that the Ambassadors, High Commissioners and their teams do to promote contacts between their countries and the UKin so many spheres of activity, including of course trade and investment. Some years ago, it was argued that diplomats were no longer needed because governments had access to ‘the FT and a fax machine.’ We know that, even in the age of the internet and instant communication, diplomats are more needed than ever.
When I joined Tata about five years ago, I found some real similarities with my previous life as a diplomat. Tata is a global group, with operations in more than 100 countries spread across six continents, and over 695,000 employees worldwide. Over two thirds of our revenue now comes from beyond our home base in India. And with businesses ranging from ‘salt to steel’ and ‘tea to IT,’ our colleagues share many of the same challenges as diplomats, what we might describe as managing complexity while maintaining clarity of strategy and purpose.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Tata group. What matters to us is that the sense of purpose which was so important to our founder, Jamsetji Tata, remains core to our existence today. Jamsetji’s words back then look surprisingly modern today: “In a free enterprise, the community is not just another stakeholder in the business, but is in fact the very purpose of its existence.” With two thirds of Tata Sons, our holding company, owned by the Tata (philanthropic) Trusts, shareholder value and purpose are firmly bound together.
Jamsetji Tata began his business career in international trade in Chinaand England. When he established his first business in India a 150 years ago, he continued to travel and to seek out innovative ideas and best practice from around the world. For example, when he visited the Lancashire textile mills, he learned a great deal about the technology, but also came away with a commitment to treat his workers back in India with a dignity that he did not always see during his travels. The same approach informs our approach both to innovation and values in this very different age. Today, skills development is the focus of much of our community involvement in Britain and we are proud to be part of helping young people in schools and universities reach their potential in maths and many other STEM skills.
We value partnerships and a ‘long term’ approach to business and investment decisions. In a world that seems to be characterised by increased volatility and both political and economic surprises, our long term relationships are more valuable to us than ever. As Britain looks to its future outside the European Union, we remain committed to remaining what I call ‘part of the economic furniture’ of the country, building on our presence ever since the opening of our first UK business in 1907. With operations from Romaniato Sweden, Spainto Polandand the Netherlandsto Italy, Tata is a presence across Europe. As I was reminded when I met diplomats from across the world at the awards, we are active in every continent.
Of course, our diplomatic friends may know us best through our iconic brands. Of course, I hope it won’t be long before every Head of Mission’s flag car is a Jaguar or Range Rover, every Mission serves its guests Tetley Tea and every visiting Minister stays at St James Court, A Taj Hotel or Taj 51 Buckingham Gate! But, even before then, Tata will continue to make an important contribution to the economy in many of the countries represented by London’s Diplomatic Corps. We, like our diplomatic friends, are always ready to make mutually-beneficial connections.