Ratan N. Tata '59, B.Arch. '62, chairman of Tata Sons, has been named Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year 2013 and will be honored this Oct. 12 at the first Cornell Entrepreneurship Summit in New York City.
Tata has been at the helm of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata Group, since 1991. He is also chairman of the major Tata companies, including Tata Motors, Tata Steel, Tata Consultancy Services, Tata Power, Tata Global Beverages, Tata Chemicals, Indian Hotels and Tata Teleservices. The companies employ more than 400,000 people in India, and under Tata's leadership, annual revenues have grown to around $100 billion.
Since its founding, the Tata Group's mission has included returning wealth to the communities in which it operates. Two-thirds of Tata Sons is owned by philanthropic trusts that were founded about 100 years ago. The company has received much publicity in recent years for its development of the Tata Nano, a compact car with a $2,500 price tag, which makes it affordable for India's growing middle class.
Tata is chairman of two of the largest private-sector-promoted philanthropic trusts in India (the Tata Trusts) and is a member of the Indian Prime Minister's Council on Trade and Industry, as well as president of the Court of the Indian Institute of Science and chairman of the Council of Management of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. In June 2012, he received a lifetime achievement award from the Rockefeller Foundation for his innovative approach to business and philanthropy.
The government of India honored Tata with its second-highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, in 2008. In 2007, he was also named one of the 30 most respected CEOs in the world by Barron's magazine and the Tata Group was awarded the Carnegie Medal of Philanthropy.
Tata serves on the board of directors of Alcoa and the international advisory boards of Mitsubishi Corp., the American International Group, JP Morgan Chase, Rolls Royce, Temasek Holdings and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.
At Cornell, Tata is a member of the board of trustees. In 2008, the Tata Education and Development Trust committed $50 million to Cornell to endow the Tata-Cornell Initiative in Agriculture and Nutrition to improve the nutritional status and livelihoods of people in India and to the Tata Scholarship Fund for Students from India to attract talented Indian students with financial need to Cornell.
The Cornell Entrepreneur of the Year award is given annually to a graduate who exemplifies entrepreneurial achievement, community service and high ethical standards.