RK Krishnakumar and Tata’s Bond of Business and Loyalty

Close confidant and a veteran of Tata Group

RK Krishnakumar, the man who was known for his notable contribution to the Tata Group,  died at the age of 84 on January 1st, due to a heart attack.

Who was RK Krishnakumar?

 Krishnakumar was known as KK in the corporate world. A member of the Tata Group for nearly 50 years, he was instrumental in securing Tetley's acquisition which made global news. He retired at the age of 75 in 2013.

Association with the Tata Group

He was connected to the majority of Tata companies such as; – Tata Consumer – Indian Hotels (which manages the Taj brand) – Tata Sons – Trustee for the two major shareholders in Tata Sons, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust. – RNT Associate at Ratan Tata's private investment firm.

What did RK Krishnakumar do differently for his success?

#1 Always looking at the broad picture

His ability to look at the bigger picture pulled a number of deals in the beverage space. – The acquisition of Tetley. – Bought American beverages company Eight O’ Clock Coffee – 30% stake in water company Glaceau, later sold to Coca-Cola.

#2 Mentoring talent for future leadership roles

He identified and mentored talent for leadership roles, ensuring the future leadership position in the right hands, and arguably today they are; – Anil Goel executive director, finance. – Sumit Guha deputy managing director at Tata Realty's – Avani Saglani Davda,  heads the Tata-Starbucks joint venture.

#3 Making Quick Decisions

Krishnakumar's decision making saved Tata's from major setbacks: – The quick buy and sell of Glaceau to Coca Cola – He was appointed as the crisis manager to handle the Mumbai terror attack 2008. – Handled the Assam Crisis of 1997, where Tata tea employees were held hostage

#4 Being ahead of the curve

“ When globalization to me meant overseas companies taking over Indian companies, RKKM represented the right opposed and opposite. When corporate originations were still grappling with items such as “targets” and “vision” statements, RKKM was in “mission” and “purpose” mode. All this possibly 25 years before any of this became fashionable corporate-speak. - Harish Bijoor

Recognition and Award

Krishnakumar's contribution to India's commerce and industry has been recognized by the Government of India with the Padma Shri Award.

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