ITC's longest-serving Chairman addresses his last Annual Meet

24 Jul 2016 | By Ramya

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.

In context: YC Deveshwar's glorious reign at ITC

IntroductionAbout 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.

Deveshwar's ReignITC 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.

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Two decades of leadership

Two-Decade WatchTwo 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.

2011-12Last reappointment

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.

22 Jun 2016Deveshwar 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."
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24 Jul 2016ITC's longest-serving Chairman addresses his last Annual Meet

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."

Formidable Challenges"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."