Monday, January 27, 2014
By Kamal Swami
Untimely death of Karl Slym, stuns Tata Motors and Auto Industry
Karl Slym, handpicked by Ratan Tata to revive the fortunes of Tata Motors in India, died in Bangkok on Sunday in a freak accident at the hotelwhere he was staying. He was 51. Slym, who was in Bangkok to attend a board meeting of Tata Motors Thailand, reportedly fell from the 22nd floor of the Shangri-La Hotel to the fourth floor. Hotel executives declined comment. Police authorities are probing the death.
Tributes poured in from colleagues and his peers at other companies, as Slym had becomeafamiliar figurein the Indian automobile industry, having spent almost six years in India, after beginning his career in the UK. CyrusMistry,headof the Tata Group and chairman of Tata Motors, said: "I am deeply saddened to inform you about the untimely and tragic demise of our company's managing director, Karl Slym. Karl joined us in October 2012 and was a valued colleague who was providing strong leadership at a challenging time for the Indian auto industry. In this hour of grief, our thoughts are with Karl's wife and family."
Rajiv Bajaj, managing director of Bajaj Auto and an occasional sparring partner, said Slym had become a friend.
"Karl and I had differing positions on the quadricycle, but he was a really fine professional. He took the initiative to contact me in June. We went out for dinner together and enjoyed sharing our experiences in the transformation of our respective companies. So it was a growing friendship and I am completely shocked to hear about this today."
Ravi Kant, the former MD of Tata Motors and current non-executive director and vice-chairman of the company, may take temporary charge of Tata Motors. ET couldn't independently verify this. "The company's board of directors will meet in the coming days and decide on the interim MD," a Tata Motors executive said. Sumit Sawhney, executive director of marketing at Renault India and a former colleague, was one of Karl Slym's proteges. He expressed shock at Slym's death. "It is a big personal loss. I am personally in a state of shock. He is one of the finest individuals and human beings I know. People like him are very rare. He was a very strong leader, who not only had a strong human face but a professional face as well."
While the Indian automobile market has become intensely competitive, Tata Motors is working on its market leadership in CVs and beefing up its presence in passenger vehicles. It's also making an aggressive expansion into more international markets while it readies to launch fresh products in existing markets. The results of this will be felt in the short term (one year), medium term (two years) and the long term (after two years), said the company official cited above. Horizonext, announced in June 2013, was Slym's customer-centric, four-pillar strategy — strong product focus, world-class manufacturing quality, enhanced purchase experience and services to provide customers with an overall end-to-end vehicle experience.
Source: Economic Times