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Less than two years after moving into his current role, Niraj Srivastava, head
of car product group at Tata Motors is on his way out. Srivastava is joining
Audi India as head of sales. It was only in August 2010 that Srivastava had
moved to Tatas passenger vehicle business. In his earlier assignment at Tata,
he was the regional manager (West) for the companys commercial vehicle
business. Why is this important?
Well, Srivastavas exit comes at a fairly interesting juncture for his current
employer. Today, about 65 percent of revenue and almost 90 percent of Tata
Motorss profits come from Jaguar and Land Rover (JLR). The India car and
commercial vehicles business is dwarfed by the size and scale of JLR. And this
new Tata Motors needs a new guy to take over since Prakash Telang, the
companys current managing director is set to retire in June 2012. It is a very
interesting situation now because if an Indian guy is appointed as MD then he
wont be taken very seriously at JLR. And if a foreigner comes in then he has
very little understanding of Tata Motors domestic car and commercial
vehicles business, says a source who didnt want to be quoted.

It is unlikely that Mr. Telang will get an extension. The change of guard at the
company is likely to be a closely watched affair. Tata Motors says that
whatever happens, an announcement will be made in due course of time.
Speculation though has already begun and names of key people inside Tata
like Bhaskar Bhat, MD of Titan Industries and Ravi Pisharody, the president
of commercial vehicles are being talked about as contenders.
It is not that Tata Motors has a very large talent pool of second rung
leadership team within the company to choose from. Because if one digs a
little deeper, you will notice that in the last couple of years the company has
seen quite a few senior executives moving out. And almost entirely in the
companys domestic passenger vehicles business where it sells cars like the
Nano, Indica, Indigo, Manza, Safari and Aria. In many ways than one, it
started with the appointment of Carl Peter Forster as group CEO of Tata
Motors in February 2010. Just a few months later, Rajiv Dubey, president of
Tatas passenger vehicles business and often considered the blue eyed boy at
Tata quit in May 2010 after a career spanning 27 years at the company.
To fill in for Dubey, Tata Motors re organized its car business. Nitin Seth, the
then head of car product group who used to report to Dubey was sidelined to
look after some cross company strategic initiatives. Instead in August 2010, R
Ramakrishnan, vice president (sales & marketing) of Tatas commercial
vehicle division was appointed as vice president of passenger cars. Plus Seth
was replaced by Niraj Srivastava. Seth finally quit Tata Motors in December
2010. Late last year in September 2011, Mr. Forster quit Tata Motors because
of unavoidable personal circumstances.

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