ITC's longest-serving Chairman addresses his last Annual Meet
India's longest-serving CEO, Yogesh Chander Deveshwar, ITC's Chairman, addressed what would be his last Annual General Meeting in Kolkata. Deveshwar called his journey at one of India's most prestigious firms "momentous"; he recalled the formidable challenges faced by him while steering the country's largest cigarette maker. Deveshwar would step down next year to begin his role as a non-executive chairman until 2020.
About Yogesh Chander Deveshwar
Yogesh Chander Deveshwar was born in British India's Lahore. He is a mechanical engineer and an alumnus of IIT-Delhi and Harvard Business School. After graduating from IIT-Delhi in 1968, he joined ITC in the same year; he became the company's Executive Chairman in 1996. In 2011, he was honored with 'Padma Bhushan'; he was ranked the world's seventh 'Best Performing CEO' in 2012.
ITC under Deveshwar's leadership
After joining ITC, Deveshwar gradually worked his way up to become a Director in 1984; in 1996, he was appointed as the CEO and Executive Chairman of the Board. Under his leadership, ITC underwent sweeping changes; from primarily manufacturing cigarettes, ITC forayed into the FMCG segment. ITC's turnover reached Rs.51,582 crore; its FMCG business crossed the sales mark of Rs.10,000 crore.
Two decades of leadership
Under Deveshwar's supervision, ITC battled the resistance to its efforts to diversify from key shareholders. The company's revenue reportedly grew tenfold- from Rs.5,200 crore to Rs.51,500 crore. ITC also claimed that shareholder returns have also improved at a 23.3% compounded annual rate. Reportedly, the company also became the only company to be 'water positive', 'carbon positive' and 'solid waste recycling positive' in the world.
In Jun'11, Deveshwar was reappointed as ITC's Chairman for a last five-year term to make him the longest-serving chairman of the corporation. The board had cleared his extension with effect from 5 Feb'12; it was also hinted that within this five-year-term, he might take up non-executive role. After the shareholders' approval to his extension as chairman, Deveshwar continued to helm the company in Feb'12.
Deveshwar to step down in 2017
ITC announced that CEO and Chairman YC Deveshwar would step down in Feb'17; he would continue to steer the company as a non-executive chairman for three years. A resolution seeking shareholders' approval of the same would be moved at ITC's forthcoming annual general on 22 Jul'16 in Kolkata. In 2011, Deveshwar himself stated that he would assume a role of non-executive in the company.
Desire to shed the executive role
ITC stated "Nomination and Compensation Committee (of ITC) had persuaded him to carry on. But he expressed his desire to shed the executive role to put in place a youthful leadership at the helm in the longer term interest of the company."
Diversification away from tobacco
Praising Deveshwar, Marico Chairman Harsh C Mariwala stated: "He had taken ITC to great heights, especially with the diversification away from tobacco. But at some stage, you need to give a chance to others to succeed."
"ITC was a far cry from what it is now"
Recalling the turbulent times ITC was experiencing when he took over, Deveshwar said ITC was "a far cry from what it is at present." His job at ITC was not easy compared to chiefs of other companies who represented India on the global platform. Deveshwar at the helm of ITC affairs served for 20 astounding years; his relation with ITC spans across five decades.
Formidable challenges threatened the very foundation
YC Deveshwar said: "Some of you may recall the turbulent times that engulfed ITC around the time you placed me at the helm. The company was confronted with formidable challenges that threatened the very foundation of future progress."