Nov 23, 2006

The return of TAS

It seems that Tata Administrative Services (TAS) is one of the preferred companies on B School campus these days.

Eons ago when I graduated, TAS was considered a fuddy-duddy place to join. It was the place you would try for if you didn't get into the consulting firms (i-banks were just visiting IIMA then :-) or the top layer of FMCG companies like HLL or P&G. TAS kind of stuck out in the placement process as you couldn't club it as an industry or function track. The fact that it sounded like the Indian Administrative Service, didn't help matters.

The high point was that if you were selected for the final round of interview you would get to meet Ratan Tata himself in person, over dinner, at Mumbai.

So when I found out that it's a hot firm in campus, I wanted to understand how it had gone about polishing its brand. Currently TAS offers global projects too, to make itself comparable to global firms. And the final interviews are conducted by Noel Tata, considered by many to be Ratan Tata's successor.

This article at the Tata site is very useful, even though it was written in 2002. It shows the thought behind the branding.

....instituted a Tata Leadership Award, 2002 for management students who participate in a contest and present outstanding case studies.

TAS has a clear presence on the campuses now, it is in turn banking on the Tata presence across industries, from infotech to automobiles to attract the best talent. This talent promises to work in different industries thanks to the cross-level functional ability from work-level study that has been implemented across the group.

Another article states:

Says a Tata manager who graduated from a B-school in 2000: "Salaries were a major part of why TAS lost out when the MNCs came in; the pay was incomparable and acted as a discouraging factor."

The new TAS resembles any other training program followed by a GE or an HLL, in spirit at least. That’s very different from the institution that Tata Administrative Services was — sourcing multi-disciplinary talent and grooming it in its backyard.