Throwback to when Ratan Tata moved Howard Schultz Starbucks CEO to tears


November 27, 2019

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Tata Trusts chairman Ratan Tata is one of the most respected industrialists not just in India but internationally. The notable industrialist is the recipient of two of the highest civilian awards – Padma Vibhushan (2008) and Padma Bhushan (2000). Tata is known for his contribution in transforming the Tata group under his chairmanship and for his philanthropic work.

Ratan_Tata_InstagramIt may be noted that to the delight of his fans, Tata joined Instagram last month and within a couple of hours, garnered over 85,000 followers. The first post from the 81-year-old industrialist who has not been very active on social media gained nearly 50,000 likes within no time. He joined the social media platform with a picture that had the caption, “I don’t know about breaking the internet, but I am so excited to join all of you on Instagram!”

Tata is known for his generosity and remarkable, insightful talks. In fact, Tata’s grace and wisdom once moved former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz to tears.

For those who are not aware, in January 2011, Starbucks Corporation and Tata Coffee announced plans to begin opening Starbucks locations in India. In January 2012, Starbucks finally announced a 50:50 joint venture with Tata Global Beverages, called Tata Starbucks Ltd., which currently operates outlets branded “Starbucks, A Tata Alliance” in India.

In a book titled ‘Reimagining India: Unlocking The Potential of Asia’s Next Superpower’, Schultz wrote an essay in which he mentioned how Ratan Tata once moved him to tears. “At the celebratory dinner the night of the Mumbai (store’s) opening, Ratan Tata offered a toast that really moved me,” he wrote.

In the essay, he recalled Starbucks’ India launch and how Tata’s remarks at the celebrations after the launch to a gathering of his company officials in the US, he even began to cry and was overpowered by emotion.

He had said, “A few weeks after returning from the opening of our Mumbai store, we held one of our big open forum meetings where we get the entire company together. And as I tried to describe that moment for everyone, something came over me. I started to cry. It just hit me emotionally. In India, we’d had a chance to do something extraordinary, something truly world-class. And I am excited that we have a chance to grow and give back in a land where so much opportunity lies ahead and to contribute to making it a little better place than the one we found.”

His admiration for Tata did not stop there. He further went on to describe how Tata’s remarks on the night of the Mumbai opening were “perfect and so heartfelt. He went on to add that he considers Tata to be a “man with so much grace.” “I could sit and listen to Ratan Tata for days on end. He has so much wisdom and insight not only about India but about the world,” he said.

It is worth mentioning that Starbucks was brought to India Tata Global Beverages Ltd. In 2012, these two companies announced a joint venture of 50% each and TGBL now owns and operates Starbucks stores in India. For those who do not know, Starbucks had actually tried to enter India earlier in 2007 but withdrew the business in some time. Starbucks’ first India store was opened in Mumbai.

After over six years of its India debut, Starbucks started bringing in cash for the Tata Global Beverages and broke even at cash-level in August this year. The coffee chain enjoyed about 23% growth in the April-June quarter of 2019 and has been opening new stores in the northern regions. Currently, Starbucks has a foothold in eight cities and has over 157 outlets in India.