Shantanu Naidu, the 28-year-old assistant of Ratan Tata, started making headlines when a video of the Tata Group Chairman cutting his birthday cake went viral. The RPG Group Chairman, Harsh Goenka had also shared the video on its official twitter handle.
“A charming scene with the unassuming #RatanTata on his 84th birthday,” the tweet read.
Here is Shantanu’s journey to becoming Tata’s young assistant:
Shantanu Naidu graduated in 2014 and started working at the Tata Group. He is fond of dogs and strays. One day he saw the dead body of a dog lying in the middle of the road.
Horrified at the scene, he decided he had to do something. Naidu, along with a few friends, ended up designing a collar which had reflectors on it, so that drivers can see the dog from afar. The next day, they went around the city and started putting these collars on the neck of stray dogs. What impact his work would potentially have, Naidu had no idea. As he himself mentions in a now viral interview to the storytelling team of Humans of Bombay, "I didn’t know if it would work, but when I woke up the next day, I received a message saying that a dog had been saved because of the collar -- it felt amazing!"
According to Naidu, the word spread like wild fire and his noble endeavour got covered by the Tata Group's newsletter. "People wanted to buy our collars, but we had no funding," he says. Around this time, Naidu's father urged him to write a letter to Ratan Tata. Though initially reluctant, the young man gave in and realised there was no harm in doing so.
"I was hesitant at first, but then I said to myself, ‘Why not?’ So, I wrote him a handwritten letter and forgot all about it," he points out. Two months later, Naidu received a letter from Ratan Tata himself.
"My life changed. I received a signed letter from Mr. Ratan Tata himself! When I opened it, it said that he really loved our work and would like to meet me -- I couldn’t believe it," he says.
A few days later when he met Tata in Mumbai, the business tycoon expressed his admiration for Naidu's work and said that he was deeply touched.
"I still get goosebumps when I think of it. He then took me at this place to see his dogs, and that’s how our friendship began. He also funded our venture," Naidu says.
This was the beginning of their friendship.
Tata funded his venture and Naidu left for his masters abroad, promising Tata that one day he would dedicate his life working for Tata Trust.
On returning back to India, Naidu received a call from Tata and he said "I have a lot of work to be done in my office. Would you like to be my assistant?"
Naidu accepted the offer and now it’s been 18 months since he has been working with Ratan Tata.
Before signing off, Naidu tells Humans of Bombay, "People my age have a hard time finding the right set of friends, the right mentor and the right kind of boss. But I can’t believe my lucky stars that I found all of these humans in one superhuman named Mr. Ratan Tata. People affectionately call him Boss, but I like to call him the ‘Millennial Dumbledore’ -- I think that name suits him the best!”
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