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London B-school don Nirmalya is Tata group’s new lynchpin

Nirmalya KumarIn the latest in a series of high-profile appointments following Cyrus Mistry’s taking over as chairman of the Tata group, Nirmalya Kumar, professor of marketing at the London Business School, will join the holding company Tata Sons as a member of the group executive council (GEC).

The 53-year-old Kumar, a much published author and thought leader on management themes, will be based in Mumbai, start from August 1 and report to Mistry.

Kolkata-bred Kumar, an MBA from the University of Illinois, holds a PhD in marketing from Northwestern University USA, and has taught at the Harvard Business School, IMD Switzerland and the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

“Nirmalya Kumar will hold responsibility for strategy at the group level. In addition, he will lend his expertise in bringing customer centricity to the fore across group companies,” Tata Sons said.

The GEC was set up to provide strategic and operational support to Mistry. Besides Kumar, former BSE MD Madhu Kannan has joined the GEC as group head, business development.

Mukund Govind Rajan, who will oversee brand, communication, ethics and corporate social responsibility and NS Rajan, who will lead the strategic function of human resources are other members of the council.

Kumar’s is a rare transition from academics to a high-profile corporate career. He is known as one of the best business professors and management thinkers. He has authored six books, five of which was published by Harvard Business Press.

“Passionate about marketing, India, and art,” is how Kumar describes himself on his Twitter profile. He is said to be the custodian of the largest-known private collection of paintings by Jamini Roy and Rabindranath Tagore.

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