April 2016

In view

The rising stars of Tata in Europe come from all backgrounds and fulfil many different roles. What unites them is focus, a sense of responsibility, new attitudes, and a hunger to learn new skills and make a difference

There's no better way to understand the strength of an organisation than to look at its pipeline of talent. If the Tata group is to thrive for another 148 years, it needs young people with drive, skill and commitment. So we're proud to introduce some of the rising stars of Tata in Europe. They come from all backgrounds and fulfil many different roles. What unites them? Focus, a sense of responsibility, new attitudes, and a hunger to learn new skills and make a difference.

Read on to hear their stories.

Andrew Bray, lead engineer for closures, body in white and hardware, TMETC, Coventry
Why did you decide to join Tata Motors European Technical Centre?
When I left university, I looked at all of the automotive manufacturers in the UK and decided I wanted to work on mass-market cars. Tata Motors has global ambitions,which is ideal. 

Which part of your job is most satisfying?
Because we're working from a blank sheet of paper, the most satisfying bit is when we get everything packaged together and it all works. The final gratification comes when something you've created is put into a real vehicle and used there.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
I hope most of the work I've done has been recognised as being of a high standard. I've been gradually getting more and more opportunities, such as looking after the team I'm in charge of now, and, hopefully, with each step, I'm doing a good job. Obviously, you've got to have a good team behind you too.

What innovation will change your field most in the next five years?
If you look at automotives as a whole, it's really all about minimising waste and CO2. That will continue to drive what we do. But improvements to technology are also important — vehicles tend to be slightly behind the technological pace of smartphones, for example; so we'll have to work out how to catch up and incorporate new technology into the automotive environment.

Rob Hudson, energy development engineer, Tata Chemicals Europe, Northwich, Cheshire
Why did you decide to join a Tata company?
Tata offered the broadest range of opportunities. I liked that it's a massive group and very wide-reaching, and I wanted to work on big projects.

Which part of your job is most satisfying?
The fact that every day is different. One day I've got my process engineer's hat on, and the next I've got my regulatory hat on. I'm learning new things every single day. I've been lucky enough to be surrounded by really experienced people. Along the way, I've tried to absorb as much information, knowledge and experience from them as I can.

What does being recognised as a rising star mean to you?
It means progression and development. I don't see my career as static. I want to move upwards, not sideways.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
For the past couple of years, we've been working on a new steam turbine at the combined heat and power plant at Northwich. It's a bit of a business saver — a £5.5m project that pays for itself in a year. Our electrical income will be much higher in 2016 and we'll be able to get cracking on all of the other projects necessary for the business to remain sustainable.

Ewa Komincz, technical higher apprentice, Tata Steel, Port Talbot
Why did you decide to join Tata Steel?
When I was studying chemistry at the University of Warsaw in Poland, I heard about Tata Steel and the work it does. It seemed like a good place to use the skills that I developed during my degree.

Which part of your job is most satisfying?
So far, it's been going on site visits to see how the steelworks function. You get to see all of the units and the whole process for producing steel.

What does being recognised as a rising star mean to you?
I never really expected it. Working for Tata makes me proud. It's great to be part of a huge company with such a global presence and reach.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
I'm just about to start work on some new projects. That's exciting. I'm also looking forward to learning more as part of my apprenticeship.

What innovation will change your field most in the next five years?
I'm not exactly sure at the moment, but it's something I want to learn more about and familiarise myself with. I think the apprenticeship will help answer that question!

Fernando Mora, restaurant and bar manager, St James' Court, a Taj Hotel, Taj Group, London
Why did you join Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces?
Working in hospitality is all about providing excellent service. At Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces, they put service before everything else and ensure guests have a really good experience. I like that commitment.

What does being recognised as a rising star mean to you?
It means the hard work has been worth it. I want to keep developing myself, to keep learning from both the guests and my superiors.

What do you consider your biggest achievement?
I helped create a special wine for the hotel. We worked with a company in India for a year until we got the right product, and now the hotel in London has its own red wine. Our customers like it very much.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
We're going to launch a gin bar in 2016, with more than 20 gins on offer. Now that gin is booming again in London, we may even make our own.

What will change your field most in the next five years?
More and more you find digital menus on tablets. The customer experience is becoming more interactive. It's important we maintain the history of the hotel but we also have to keep up with new trends and technology.

Sofia Michalopoulou, corporate sustainability executive, Tata Consultancy Services, London
Why did you join Tata Consultancy Services?
I first heard of Tata at an AIESEC conference in Malaysia and I saw someone from the company give a speech. I was impressed as Tata seemed to be huge and very profitable but also to have a strong support network with an emphasis on values such as integrity, learning and sharing. That was very important for me.

Which part of your job is most satisfying?
I think it's when volunteers from the company come and thank me for giving them the opportunity to volunteer. I'm just the enabler but it's great to be part of their journey.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
We'll have a showcase at the Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair in Birmingham, where our graduates will be inspiring young people. This will be our third year there, and it's always exciting.

What will change your field most in the next five years?
At the moment, a lot of companies are addressing corporate sustainability as a policy on the side. We take it very seriously and feel it should be at the centre of what we do. I think more and more companies will adopt this approach to be successful in the long run.

Alex Snowden, senior brand manager, Tata Global Beverages, London
Why did you join Tata Global Beverages?
I wanted to join a big brand, but the innovative spirit of the group also appealed to me. It feels very entrepreneurial here — anything is possible, and it's an agile and reactive business. The speed at which we've launched some products just wouldn't be possible elsewhere.

Which part of your job is most satisfying?
Working on new products is always exciting. In 2015, Tetley launched its 'super green teas', a new range of teas with health claims approved by the European Food Safety Authority. They're the first of their kind in the UK.

What does being recognised as a rising star mean to you?
I'm very proud, but I'm lucky to work with very good people across the business.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
We're going to launch a range of eight teas in 2016 with new health benefits, around areas like heart health, mind health, detox and beauty.

What will change your field most in the next five years?
The rise of super teas will be important. We want our new brands to occupy their own subsection in the industry. Tea is in long-term decline, so we hope to bring in new consumers and make tea relevant for people again.

Dhaval Ponda, head of sales, media services, in Americas and Emea, Tata Communications, London
Why did you join Tata Communications?
The opportunity to be part of many businesses, and to help run those businesses, was what attracted me to Tata. There are so many different opportunities. Very few other companies offer that.

Which part of your job is most satisfying?
The best part is that I get to meet so many different people from all walks of life. Last week, I visited five US cities in five days: Los Angeles, San Jose, Salt Lake City, New York City and Washington, DC. I love that.

What does being recognised as a rising star mean to you?
It's extremely humbling and a big honour to be here. I feel it's my responsibility to ensure others in the organisation are also recognised for their work and get a chance to pursue opportunities.

What will change your field most in the next five years?
People now want content available wherever they are in the world, across all formats. We'll see the biggest changes to the way people actually work with the content that is already part of their lives. The closed nature of the media and entertainment industry is being challenged — in the next five years people will be a lot more open with content. Businesses that recognise this will succeed.

Fatima Khuzem, senior designer, Tata Elxsi, London
Why did you decide to join Tata Elxsi?
When I was looking for a job after graduating, I realised there were very few companies offering the scale of work and the multidisciplinary approach that Tata Elxsi offers. That was important to me.

What does being recognised as a rising star mean to you?
It's wonderful. But there's a sense of responsibility that comes with it because you don't want to disappoint anyone. It makes you reflect on the job you do and everyone around you — none of us work in isolation.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
I think I've been almost aggressive in learning. For me, it's like a really gritty mission. The transition I've made across different areas of the business shows that. I've wanted to learn so badly.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
That's a tough one. For me, right now, I'm continuously re-evaluating what we do and where we're going. I want to keep growing and learning and understanding the markets we work in.

What innovation will change your field most in the next five years?
Technology becoming seamless will be a big deal. The 'internet of things' will be an important influencer in our field, particularly with the way spaces and products interact.

Alex Tomlinson, degree apprentice, Jaguar Land Rover, Coventry
Why did you decide to join Jaguar Land Rover?
I wanted to apply what I was learning at university in an environment that would allow me to experiment. That's why I enrolled for the apprenticeship at Warwick University. I fell in love with Jaguars at a young age, so that was a big pull too.

Which part of your job is most satisfying?
For me, it's the continuous improvements we make. I've automated what were previously time-intensive processes in the laboratory and saved quite a bit of money. I find the freedom that comes with doing the job very satisfying.

What does being recognised as a rising star mean to you?
It's an honour. When I try to improve processes, I do it because it's a better way of doing the job, not for the recognition — but it's really nice to see people taking note and encouraging you.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement?
We're responsible for measuring and analysing a group of particularly hazardous emissions released by cars. On one project, I managed to transform a manual measuring process that took a week into an automated, 24-hour job.

What innovation will change your field most in the next five years?
Hybrid cars and electric cars are changing emissions hugely. As cars reduce their emissions, they become much harder to measure. Looking further ahead, I'd like to produce a sustainable, emission-free powertrain that can be used in cars for the mass market.

Radhika Lakhani, associate vice president, Tata Capital, Coventry
Why did you decide to join Tata Capital?
In India, Tata is one of the best-known home-grown multinational conglomerates. You can work in a global environment and that's the kind of opportunity I wanted. Another thing that differentiates Tata from other conglomerates is its commitment to ethics, values and standards.

Which part of your job is most satisfying?
I like going out to meet clients during the business-development stage. I'm still quite new to that and, to some extent, it feels like you're sticking your neck out to convince them. Having said that, I still very much enjoy executing financial matters.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?
Working hard to ensure we turn profitable and have a sustainable bottom line.

What innovation will change your field most in the next five years?
It's not exactly an innovation, but I think finding the right partners in the right geographies will become increasingly important. For us as a business, there will be a growing move into integration and working more closely with our partners.