The Tata group is one of the largest conglomerates in India with annual revenues in the neighbourhood of over a hundred billion dollars. This giant corporation has several companies that include Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Jaguar Land Rover, TCS, Tata Power, Titan, Taj Hotels, and more.
With a history that goes over a hundred years, it has been elemental in shaping the corporate face of the country, employing some of the sharpest business minds here. To add to this pool of talent pipeline, JRD Tata, the Chairman of Tata Group between 1938 and 1991, created a specialized leadership training program – the Tata Administrative Services (TAS) – in 1956.
The TAS is a 12-month intensive leadership training program for young recruits from two sources – the in-house recruits selected from within the Tata group of companies and the campus selects from the top business schools in India.
The aim of the TAS is two-fold – creating a pool of exclusive group of managers within the company & providing a rich platform for these talents to realize their full potential. It continues to be one of the exclusive corporate training programs in the country which aims at recruiting talented candidates who are developed to become the future management leaders within the Tata fraternity.
TAS Benefits and Salaries
TAS has a history of grooming leaders for more than 60 years across its body of over 100 companies, in India and abroad. Featured as the “Most Preferred Recruiter” within the elite b-school circle in the country, according to the Nielsen Campus Track B-School Survey, in 2011 and before, it has emerged as a high demand career path for many MBA candidates, looking to venture into an early entry executive position.
In terms of career benefits, the TAS is uniquely accommodating to various favourable options to advance ones’ career.
- This premier leadership program provides its high potential candidates with training to become general managers and functional specialists, based on the needs of the Tata group of companies. The cross-functional training enables movement across the border between various business segments.
- The GOAL (Group Orientation and Learning) aspect of the TAS training enables the candidates to gain management expertize across various Tata companies through three assignments in its curriculum. A fourth assignment is aimed at training them in Corporate Sustainability in a rural setting, in tune with what Tata claims to be their dedication towards the community.
- The recruits, after training, are positioned in top management roles in the various companies within the group with the possibility of transitions to other business segments, upon evaluation. Thus, there is an opportunity to be posted across the various locations in India plus the possibility of overseas experiences.
- These recruits get the chance to be mentored by present senior executives within Tata. Opportunities to network with them also opens up doors for career development otherwise only possible after years of rubbing shoulders with senior management in an organization.
TAS also offers a lucrative opportunity for high starting salaries. According to a survey by InsideIIM in 2012, TAS scored high on its recruiter ranking, salary being one of their determining parameters. Based on inferences from the survey, Glassdoor, and other sources, TAS managers can have salaries well on the north side of INR 16 lakhs per annum. This is certainly among the more competitive salaries offered to young managers in the country.
TAS Recruitment Eligibility and Selection Process
The recuitment process to enlist into the TAS program involves two separate pool of candidates – the in-house candidates from within the Tata group of companies & the graduating final year MBA students from some of the elite business schools in the country.
According to the TAS website, the TAS In-House is open to Tata employees who satisfy the following eligibility criteria.
- Permanent employees of the Tata Group of Companies and Tata Joint Venture companies, excluding employees on JV partner rolls.
- The candidates are required to have a minimum Bachelor’s degree.
- The candidates should have served in the Group for a minimum of 2 years. There is a maximum of 6 years of professional experience limit after Bachelor’s. The professional experience of maximum 6 years should have at least 2 years within the Tata Group. For the balance work experience, beyond the 2 years, any Full-Time, Permanent, Part-Time, Temporary Consultant, Retainership Assignments, or employments, will be considered. Short term project internships will not be considered as work experience.
- Management Trainees/Graduate Engineer Trainees or employees of other structured programs, with 2 years within the Group, are also eligible to apply.
- Employees should have undergone at least two appraisal cycles.
- Applicants on sabbatical, study leave, medical leave and leave without pay are also eligible to apply to TAS subject to approval from their HR. They should, however, be a part of the company’s continuous workforce. The date of joining TAS, if selected, is fixed and any leave will not be entertained.
- All Tata Business Leadership Award (TBLA) in-house winners will be eligible to directly cut through to the TAS final interview stage. TBLA 1st and 2nd runner-ups will move ahead to the second round of the selection process – the presentation stage.
- A valid GMAT score with a cut-off declared for each year. For instance, 2016 cut-off was 650 (Read GMAT Preparation).
- Eligible candidates are required to Register on the TAS Website with a maximum limit of one registration per candidate. There is no age limit officially specified, though forum chatter seems to suggest an approximate age limit of 26/27 years.
- The application is also used as an initial selection process. It involves detailed essays on suggested candidate-background related topics. A significant part of the application is directed at elaborating the candidate’s aspirations – why Tata Group, what are your goals as a leader, your Statement of Purpose (Our article on How to write a good Statement of Purpose).
Upon selection, after the initial application, candidates have to go through a gruelling extended selection process detailed in the next section.
TAS Campus Recruitment
Currently, TAS campus selection takes place in a handful of b-schools in India, among students in their final year of MBA, or MBA equivalent – IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Calcutta, IIM Kozhikode, IIM Lucknow (Read blogs on IIMs), Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) University of Delhi, SPJIMR, Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS Mumbai), and XLRI.
A work experience is not essential. There is also no mention of a GMAT requirement for in-campus recruits.
TAS also has a Summer Internship program of 8 weeks, for first year students from the above institutes. Interested students can apply, qualify a Group Discussion and an Interview to get selected for the 2-month long internship program with TAS. Deserving interns get the opportunity to apply to the TAS at the end of their internship for a pre-selection process.
This is a shortlisting elimination process for campus applicants as well. Candidates are referred to seek advice from their respective placement advisory team for application related queries. The application requirement involves essays and a Statement of Purpose describing their motivation behind seeking a leadership role and a position within the Tata Group.
Usually, the campus goes through a selection round where the shortlisted teams compete for a winning spot. The winners then go through the selection process at the national inter-campus level.
TAS Selection Process
Regardless of the talent pool source, whether the in-house or the in-campus, the shortlisted candidates have to go through a set of four stages of in-person selection to make it to the TAS leadership program. The first rounds are held at various Tata group hotels in the country.
- Leadership Group Discussion: Also known as the Chairman’s GD, a group of ten candidates each, are given one case at a time. Each candidate gets 10 minutes to be the “Chairman” of the group to present the case to his group and lead a discussion. The cases are related to daily business decision-making. The selected candidates move on to the next stage.
- Presentation Round: Shortlisted candidates from the previous round present a case-study in a span of 30 minutes, including questions. The case-studies are provided earlier. In case of TAS Summer Internship candidates, there is a possibility of getting to present the internship project.
- Psychometric Interview Round: HR based questions that are used to get to know the candidate better. This round doesn’t eliminate candidates. Example questions are as follows:
- Biggest achievement in the recent past
- Challenges you encountered and how you overcame them
- What was the biggest decision you have ever made. Explain your decision.
- Face-to-Face Interview: Conducted by two senior executives of Tata, this interview round gets to decide the final selection of TAS recruits. It is conducted in Mumbai and is extremely difficult to crack. The questions are often based on Current Affairs, Global Leadership, etc. Here are some of the interview question types.
- What is leadership? Explain instances from politics.
- Explain what so-and-so scam was all about?
- Why TAS? What will you contribute to it?
- Which company in Tata Group you see yourself working in. Why?
The Tata Administrative Services was brought about as a corporate counterpart to the Indian Administrative Services (Read How to become an IAS Officer). Hence the inspired level of competition and difficulty cracking the selection process.
Also inspired is the status of the selected TAS Managers, making their way into cushy executive positions while their contemporaries meander through entry level positions. It is truly an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of TAS, with Tata’s giant credentials, trained by the best to lead where few can.