Cyrus Mistry, who assumed charge as deputy chairman of Tata Sons on Thursday, after stepping down as the managing director of Shapoorjee Pallonji group, a construction company founded by his grandfather.
His friends, peers and former employees described him as hardworking and patient as a manager, and not much given to grand gestures.
“While he maintains good, cordial relations with his staff, Mistry is not very demonstrative – an employee can’t just walk into his room. He is fairly hands-on, but more at a macro than a micro level,” says Robert Perkins, operations director at Masters Management Consultants, who has known Mistry for 13 years.
Perkins, who has interacted with Mistry’s father Pallonji, says Cyrus has imbibed his father’s qualities of being a keen listener and being polite.
He says apprehensions of Mistry being unable to manage a diverse group as Tatas, 58% of whose revenues come from overseas operations, are unfounded.
“He has a good international outlook, helped by the fact that he was educated in the UK. Even though he comes from a family-owned business, Mistry has good understanding of management,” said Perkins.
Boman Irani (no relation to the actor), a fellow Parsi who heads real estate firm Rustomjee and has known Mistry for over 10 years, describes him as a diligent and articulate, qualities he says Mistry shares with Ratan Tata, whom he is slated to replace next year.
“They are both equally down to earth, both are extremely low profile and both are driven by desire for success,” said Irani.
“He (Mistry) goes to the bottom of things.”
Industry associates say issues about Mistry’s relative inexperience and young age coming in the way while handling a conglomerate like Tata Group, are misplaced.
“He has always challenged us to innovate new programmes and has always come across as a person with vision and values,” said MG Korgaonker, chairman, National Institute of Construction Management and Research (NICMAR). Mistry on the board of governors of NICMAR.
Mistry’s peers in the construction industry, who have interacted with him at association meetings, say his selection as the future chairman of Tata Sons bodes well for the Tata group.
“He comes across as extremely intelligent, perceptive and grounded. He has not just technical know-how of an engineer but strong understanding of finances too,” said Siddarth Singh, secretary, Construction Federation of India.