Published on January 14, 2021
The annual Tata Business Excellence Convention (BEC) for 2020 was hosted on a virtual platform from January 11-12, 2021. Over 800 participants from 78 Tata companies participated in the convention, which had talks from renowned Tata leaders, industry experts and motivational speakers, including Prakash Iyer, Jim Davidson, Harsh Mariwala and Puneet Chhatwal. Group Chairman, Mr N Chandrasekaran and S Padmanabhan, Executive Chairman, Tata Business Excellence Group, also addressed the audience on Day 2 of the BEC.
Mr Chandrasekaran and the Governing Council of TBExG were present in person for the BEC at the venue.
The BEC provides a platform to discuss, debate and reflect on the Tata Group’s business excellence and transformation journey. It is also an occasion to celebrate the progress, and express gratitude to individuals and companies engaged in Business Excellence Assessments, Data Maturity and Best Practices activities. Covid-19 rendered 2020 an exceptionally challenging year for the entire world. Tata companies managed to overcome the year’s challenges and complexities with their sheer resilience and focus on long-term value creation. To recognise this spirit of the Tata ecosystem, BEC 2020’s theme was ‘Celebrating resilience and long-term value creation’.
Day 1 witnessed two invigorating sessions — one by Prakash Iyer, leadership coach, motivational speaker and best-selling author, and the other by Jim Davidson, high-altitude climber and resilience expert. Mr Iyer, in his session titled ‘The Winner’s Mindset’, gave terrific examples of individuals and events in history, where leadership qualities shone through during challenging times. Using the example of the famous Captain Sully who commanded the US Airways flight 1549 and saved the lives of 155 passengers by landing on the Hudson river, Mr Iyer threw light on good leadership qualities like learning agility, taking ownership and giving credit to the teams. He also used the popular analogy of teabags to eschew leadership qualities of good leaders.
Jim Davidson spoke on the topic of ‘Everest Resiliency’, providing an account of his many expeditions and the perils that he and his team faced in his quest for climbing Mount Everest. He compared it to the challenges faced by businesses last year due to the pandemic, and unearthed lessons for organisations and leaders to implement. Mr Davidson explained the positive power of 'post-traumatic growth' instead of the more universally recognised, but undesirable aspect of 'post-traumatic stress'. His address gave a different perspective to business and life — one that dispelled the gloom that had engulfed 2020 and sparked hope for a better 2021.
The sessions were interspersed with recognitions for the teams involved in Business Excellence Assessment, Deep Dives and Data Maturity for their valuable contribution in the 2020 cycle. Individuals who contributed to the Best Practices programme were also recognised.
On Day 2, Mr Padmanabhan started the day’s proceedings with his session on ‘Tata Group’s Journey towards World Class Performance’. He gave examples of how various companies, individuals, and leaders in the Tata Group’s ecosystem demonstrated resilience through various initiatives. Throwing light on the various initiatives and interventions undertaken by Tata companies in 2020, he thanked the team of assessors, mentors, and team leaders for their dedication and commitment to the Business Excellence Assessment process.
The recognition for individuals and companies for their contribution in 2020 under different categories continued through the day.
In the most awaited session of the convention, Mr Chandrasekaran spoke extensively about the devastating impact of Covid-19 on the world and the Tata Group’s response to the disruption caused by the pandemic. Looking ahead, he said that on the back of positive news like the vaccination programme, the visible reduction in the spread of Covid-19, and the easing of restrictions globally, he was confident of the recovery of the businesses. Mentioning that the Tata Group is well-positioned to lead a turnaround, he added that when Speed is added to the Group's foundation of Simplicity, Synergy and Scale, overcoming the current situation would be made easier. Mr Chandrasekaran stressed that the growth strategy was based on four aspects: adoption of digital transformation; a resilient supply chain; growth in an environmentally sustainable manner; and an adaptive talent architecture model.
Harsh Mariwala, Founder & Chairman, Marico, addressed the virtual gathering on the topic of ‘Creating the Right to Win’, providing a synopsis of his business journey and the lessons he gathered from it. He gave valuable insights into his experience as a business leader, which taught him that the fear of failure rather than failure itself paralyses people and organisations. Mr Mariwala also spoke about how consensus among the various stakeholders is vital when making critical business decisions.
Puneet Chhatwal, MD & CEO, Indian Hotels (IHCL), presented on the topic of ‘IHCL: A Culture of Resilience’. Talking about the difficult and unprecedented hit to business activities for the hospitality sector, he said that the pandemic brought down revenues and occupancies in the hotel industry to near-zero levels. The four pillars that have enabled resilience at IHCL in such a situation are Purpose, Platform, Pride, and People. Mr Chhatwal also mentioned that IHCL has had to review initiatives in the current situation. It changed its strategy from Aspirations 2020 and adapted to the changed scenario with a strategic response, branded internally as RESET 2020, which included revenue excellence, spend optimisation, effective asset management, and thrift & financial prudence. The new strategy has helped in introducing six new brands and 12 new campaigns, which have contributed 30% to the revenues of the company.
The meeting concluded with the event’s host, Mahafrid Billimoria, from Group Human Resources, expressing hope and confidence that the BEC next year would be conducted in better times, wherein participants would be able to get together physically.