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Cyrus Mistry ropes in marketing guru Nirmalya Kumar to steer Tata group's strategy

MUMBAI: Tata Chairman Cyrus Mistry, who is recruiting top talent to helm the various businesses and functions of the sprawling group, has tapped one of the world's foremost marketing strategists to head strategy for the Rs 5.05 lakh crore empire. 

Nirmalya Kumar, London Business Schoolprofessor and top-notch marketing strategist, is joining the Tata Group from August 1 this year. He will report to Mistry and be responsible for strategy at the group level. 

Consultant, coach, speaker and author, Kumar is the professor of marketing and co-director of the 
Aditya Birla Centre at London Business School. He is a key proponent of the three Vs of marketing - valued customer, value network and value proposition - which was explained in detail in his book, Marketing as Strategy: Understanding the CEO's Agenda for Driving Growth and Innovation. 

An art aficionado, Kumar graduated from the Calcutta University in B Com before doing his MBA from University of Illinois Chicago and PhD in marketing from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management. His personal homepage at the London Business School website says he is the custodian of 'among the largest known private collection of paintings of Jamini Roy and Rabindranath Tagore'. 

Kumar declined to be drawn into a discussion on his plans, referring all queries to the Tata Group. Mistry has been quietly putting together his team after taking over from 
Ratan Tatalast year. He has replaced two group-level units that reported to Tata, with one group executive council. Three senior executives, with expertise in different key functions, have already taken charge in the past one-and-a-half years. 

Mukund Rajan, a Tata veteran, is now the group's brand custodian; Madhu Kannan, the former chief executive of the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) joined the group last year to do business development; while NS Rajan, partner at EY, came on board this year as chief human resources officer. 

Kumar, whose international stature as a marketing whiz kid is well-entrenched, will be Mistry's most high-profile appointment so far. His official designation will be member, group executive council, Tata Sons. 

Kumar is expected to help Mistry and the group management in helping design an appropriate strategy for various businesses. He joins the group at a time of transition and change. 
Tata MotorsBSE -1.61 % is trying to revive the market for its products in India while sustaining the rapid growth at its overseas units, Jaguar Land Rover; Tata SteelBSE -1.99 % is trying to pay its debt and stay competitive in a weak economic environment while Tata Consultancy Services, the immensely profitable software services firm, faces the challenge of sustaining growth at a time of pain for the industry.