Canada’s world-famous York University has conferred an honorary doctor of laws degree on former Tata group chairman Ratan Tata for his quest for innovation and role in promoting corporate social responsibility.
Tata flew into Toronto to receive the honour bestowed on him at the 2014 spring convocation of York University’s Schulich School of Business at the weekend.
A citation read by Professor Dirk Matten said the most inspiring feature of Tata’s life and career has been that he has always gone beyond conventional wisdom, trusting his judgement, and worked very hard to turn his own vision into reality. Matten quoted Tata as saying, “I don’t believe in taking right decisions; I take decisions and then make them right.”
Accepting the honour, Tata told the august gathering, “I just want to tell you how deeply indebted and deeply moved I am to receive this honour that you have bestowed.”
Tata said, “I had no idea that this university and this business school had done the various things … moved beyond the shores of Canada to reflect the internationality of the world we live in today.”
The chairman emeritus of Tata Sons reminded the graduating 500 students about their responsibilities as they step into what he called “a troubled world.”
Tata told the students, “As you go out into the world, many of you will be leaders of countries and or businesses – just remember that there are millions of people who are less fortunate than you are and that hopefully one of the achievements you will make in your life will be making a difference.”
Praising Tata, Dezso J. Horvath, dean of the Schulich School of Business, said Tata embodied core values and principles taught at his business school – a global mindset, an unbending commitment to excellence, a spirit of innovation and an ingrained belief that business can help improve society.
Turning to the graduating students who come from all parts of the world, the dean said, “If there is an individual you should look to as a role model throughout the course of your business careers, it would have to be today’s honorary degree recipient, Ratan Tata.”
The dean also told the students, “For inspiration, you can look to Ratan Tata, who history will record as one of the great architects of modern India and one of the great global visionaries in business. The values and qualities he demonstrated – a desire to connect with the world, a drive for excellence, a quest for innovation – these are qualities that we at Schulich also aspire to.”
Tata was among the 12 recipients of honorary doctorate from York University.
“Each of these diversely talented and principled leaders is distinguished in his or her field, and all have demonstrated a commitment to higher learning, social justice and service to society that makes them the best possible role models for our graduates,” said York University President and Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri.
The audience heard how Tata, during his 20-year tenure as chairman of Tata Sons, turned the group into a global giant by taking its revenue from $5 billion to $100 billion, acquiring Tetley, Jaguar Land Rover and Corus, and creating the world’s smallest car Tata Nano.
A man who has become a global icon of corporate social responsibility now fittingly heads the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, the Sir Ratan Tata Trust and other smaller trusts which collectively hold 66% shares in the holding company Tata Sons.