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'Karl Slym was happy at Tatas, no signs of a depression'

The Tata Motors managing director died in a Bangkok hotel after falling from the 22nd floor of the building. He had joined the auto major in 2012 as part of a major management overhaul. India's corporate executives who died unnatural deaths

business Updated: Jan 28, 2014 10:39 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Karl Slym dead,Tata Group,Tata Motors

India’s largest automaker Tata Motors’ managing director Karl Slym, who was found dead in a Bangkok hotel on Sunday, was under no pressure at the workplace though he may have been frustrated by the bureaucracy at Bombay House, the headquarters of Tata Group.

Senior company officials, one of whom was with him in Thailand, told HT that Slym, who was brought on board in 2012 to revive the firm’s fortunes, had lined up major launches in the next few years and enjoyed full confidence of chairman Cyrus Mistry.

"He was happy at Tata Motors," said an official who requested anonymity.

"He came from outside so he was not biased towards the company’s practices and called a spade a spade. Till late on Saturday he was responding to emails and calls and was planning for the Auto Expo. There were no signs of a depression."

Read: Karl Slym's suicide note indicates domestic discord, say Thai cops

Slym, who was earlier the president of GM India between 2007 and 2011, had initiated measures including a HorizonNext project — a customer-focussed programme that would see a complete overhaul of the firm’s current product portfolio. He was also working on sprucing up the Nano to make it more premium in order to arrest its sliding sales.

For a person who had a very hands-on approach at management, the stubborn bureaucracy and hierarchy at Tata Motors may have frustrated Slym. But his former colleagues at General Motors said it was impossible he may have committed suicide due to professional reasons. "He was a very strong character," said a GM official.

"It is impossible he committed suicide due to pressure at work. Perhaps it can be some personal discord."

Read: Tata Motors stock slides 5% after Slym’s death

First Published: Jan 28, 2014 01:11 IST