What is it like to be a part of the Tata Administrative Services?
I am a CAT aspirant and want to get into General Management roles after my MBA, and I have heard that the Tata Administrative Services are the most desirable when it comes to Gen Man.
So what is it like to be a part of TAS? How is the overall work culture there?
TAS was my dream company and I cracked it! For those who are not sure of exactly which domain to get into, but still get challenging work, TAS is a great choice. Within the TATA group, TAS is taken quite seriously as the leadership grooming program. And right from the kind of roles, to the salary, it shows. Here’s what my journey at TAS was like.
Year 1 – This is a year of 4 rotations. We spend 3 months in corporate projects in 3 different companies, and also have 1 rural NGO stint. I spent my first year working on a manufacturing project at Tata Motors Sanand, strategy project at TCS Chennai and marketing project at Tata Teleservices. My rural stint was in a small village in Assam, working with an NGO named Grameen Sahara. I absolutely loved the Tata Motors project. It was my first time working in the manufacturing domain and there was lots to learn (I had requested the TAS office for an ops / manufacturing role to get some exposure). I was a bit conscious, because TAS officers enter a very high employee grade at Tata Motors. So, it was a challenge, but as I mentioned before, this is expected. The TCS project was rather slow and not particularly well-defined, so I didnt enjoy it much. The marketing project at Tata Teleservices was pretty good too. The objectives were clear, although challenging, and my project guide helped me grow not just with hard skills but soft skills too.
Year 2 & 3 – My first permanent stint was at Tata Power. I was keen to get back into my core expertise – Finance. So I worked hard to get into the Corporate Finance & Treasury department. I was part of the team managing international ventures and investments. This was an extremely rigorous role, but highly rewarding from the learning point of view. I worked on several deals throughout my two year tenure – raising finance, re-financing loans, corporate structuring and even an asset sale. Being a TAS officer, I was given responsibility right from day one, and often co-ordinated directly with the CFO and even CEO sometimes. However, I wasnt keen on making career in finance for life, so I left after 2 years to pursue something completely different.
Year 4 & 5 – For my second permanent role, I moved to the Netherlands to work at Tata Steel Europe. I was in the Business Excellence department, working on Strategy Deployment. If Tata Power taught me rigour and working under pressure, Tata Steel Europe taught me how to work with people from different nationalities and cultures, as well as delivering extremely high quality output. This stint shaped the way I manage work and myself. I often wish I had done this role first, which equipped me with great professional attitude and soft skills.
Not everyone’s career arc is the same. Some people move roles / companies in just 18 months, while other stay on for 4-5 years in the same organization. Each individual decides when they want to move.
I left the TATA group at the end of my second permanent role, i.e. at the end of Year 5. I planned to move back to India but couldnt find a hands-on role in a small team at the time. I was keen on doing something where I could see direct impact and chose to join a start-up. Had I found a similarly impactful role at the TATA group, I would have probably stayed on.
Here are the pros and cons to help you decide whether TAS is meant for you –
Pros: Challenging roles, early responsibility, great brand within the TATA group and outside, ability to move across roles / functions / locations because of the sheer breadth of the TATA group businesses, salary offered at B-School is competitive (although you may not see increments as high as roles in banking or consulting over time)
Cons: Culture in most TATA companies is a little bureaucratic – decisions take time, although with good reason. TAS officers usually end up in large organizations (at least 1000+ people), because smaller organizations often cant afford having multiple roles for premium talent – this is the issue I faced while looking for hands-on roles in a small organization. TAS office’s interventions aren’t very frequent (at least when I was part of TAS, perhaps it’s changed now).
TAS Batch of 2011 (joined from XLRI), worked in the TATA group from 2011 to 2016
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