A day after the Tata Group veteran and a close confidante of Ratan Tata, RK Krishnakumar passed away, Tata Sons brand custodian Harish Bhat said in a LinkedIn post that his former boss Krishnakumar, or as he was fondly called KK, travelled all the way from Tata Tea Kolkata to attend Bhat’s wedding in Mangalore in 1992.
Bhat wrote, “He had a heart of gold and cared deeply for people. I still recall that he travelled all the way from Tata Tea Kolkata in 1992, to attend my wedding [in] Mangalore, despite all his pressing engagements as Managing Director of the Company. I could not stop myself from crying that day, and I cannot stop myself from crying today.”
Bhat also says in his LinkedIn post that RK Krishnakumar was his first boss and that he has learned many lessons from the latter on life, courage, generosity, leadership, and marketing. “He was my first boss and I have learnt so many invaluable lessons from him- on marketing, courage, generosity, leadership, and life. He shaped the way I think and I am grateful to him for having been such a wonderful teacher," he noted.
The senior Tata Group executive also talked about the role Krisnakumar played in Tetley’s acquisition. “He led two iconic companies of the Group- Tata Tea and IHCL (Taj). He was a director of Tata Sons and a trustee of Tata Trusts. The nation will not forget his daring acquisition of Tetley, the first ever global brand to be acquired by an Indian company," he recalled.
Top things to know about late RK Krishnakumar, former Tata Sons director
1. RK Krishnakumar passed away due to a heart attack in Mumbai on Sunday evening at the age of 84.
2. Krishnakumar was a close confidante of Ratan Tata and led the Tata Group’s hospitality arm Indian Hotels.
3. The veteran executive is known for the 271 million pound buy-out of the beverage brand Tetley in 2000.
4. He was also reportedly a part of the team that worked with Ratan Tata in the Cyrus Mistry case.
5. Krishnakumar was active with Tata Trusts after retiring from executive roles.
6. Krishnakumar received India’s fourth highest civilian honour Padma Shri in 2009 for contributions to the country’s trade and business.
7. Tata Sons’ chairman Natarajan Chandrasekharan had said in a statement that Krishnakumar “always wanted to help the less privileged and positively impact their lives.”
8. Chandrasekharan also wrote: “Mr. R. Krishnakumar was a veteran Tata leader who made enormous contribution to the Tata Group over his lifetime. I had the good fortune of knowing him and what stood out was his deep sense of compassion as a human being. He always wanted to help the less privileged and positively impact their lives. We pray for his departed soul and will sorely miss him”
9. Krishnakumar started working for Tata Administrative Services in 1963 and joined Tata Global Beverages (erstwhile Tata Finlay) in 1965.
10. Krishnakumar worked through Tata Global Beverages’ transformation into Tata Tea and became the vice president of South India Plantations in 1982.
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