Tata Limited Executive Director David Landsman OBE highlights the international link between the Tata and diplomatic communities
once again, I’m delighted to offer Tata’s support to Diplomat magazine’s annual awards ceremony. I very much appreciate the hard work that the diplomats we welcome to London do to promote contacts between their countries and the UK across such a wide range of human activity. Even in the age of communications technology, we’d all be much poorer without them.
When I joined Tata, 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 60,000 employees worldwide. Over two thirds of our business now comes from our international operations. And with businesses ranging from ‘salt to steel’ and ‘tea to IT,’ our work shares a lot of the challenges of diplomatic life, which I might describe as managing complexity while maintaining clarity of strategy and purpose.
Tata has been both global in its reach and clear about its purpose from the outset. The Founder, Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, began his business career in the mid-nineteenth century in international trade in China and England. When he established his first business in India in 1868, 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 about the technology but also came away with reflections about how he wanted to treat his workers back in India: with the dignity that early industrialisation did not always afford. The same approach informs our attitude both to innovation and values in this very different age. We continue to pursue a long-term approach to our business and the Founder’s commitment to returning value to the communities in which we work around the world. This is encapsulated in the fact that our promoter (holding) company, Tata Sons, is two-thirds owned by charitable foundations established by previous generations of the Tata family, even while many of the companies in the group are publicly listed.
We also value partnerships and a ‘long termism’ approach to business and investment decisions. In a world that seems to be characterised by volatility and both political and economic surprises, our long term relationships are more valuable to us than ever. As the UK and European Union look to negotiate a new relationship with each other in the coming years, we are committed to remaining part of the economic fabric of the whole region – building on our presence and partnerships over the last 110 years. We value the relationships that we have cultivated in so many parts of the world and believe that Tata has much to bring to the international community of consumers and businesses of the twenty-first century.
While we are on every continent, the UK and Europe remain very important parts of Tata’s future. In addition to a wide range of businesses, from engineering to hospitality, we also continue the Tata tradition of community initiatives, with a focus on skills development, making an important contribution to addressing an important need.
In the Netherlands, Tata Steel is investing up to €800 million in modernising its Ijmuiden plant. Tata Technologies, a global engineering services provider, has set operations in both Romania and Sweden as well as its new European HQ in the UK’s West Midlands. And of course the heart of Jaguar Land Rover – its design, research, development and engineering activities – remains in Europe. Tata group companies have contributed a substantial part of the investment into the new National Automotive Innovation Centre being built in Warwick.
Our diplomatic friends may know us best through our iconic brands. Of course, I hope it won’t be long before every flag car is a Jaguar or Range Rover, every mission serves Tetley Tea and every visiting minister stays at St James Court, A Taj Hotel or Taj 51 Buckingham Gate! But, more seriously, Tata makes an important contribution to the economies of many of the countries represented by London’s diplomatic corps, and we are – like Ambassadors and High Commissioners – always ready to make mutually-beneficial connections.