The man and his 'Millennial Dumbledore': Who is Shantanu Naidu, Ratan Tata's young assistant?
Of late, a video of Ratan Tata celebrating his 84th birthday with a young man and a cupcake went viral, leaving people in awe of Tata's simplicity. Netizens were also curious to know who the young man is.
Well, the young man is none other than Shantanu Naidu who shares a perfect mentor-protégé relationship with Chairman Emeritus of Tata Sons, Ratan Tata.
Here's the inspiring journey of Shantanu Naidu.
Shantanu Naidu who graduated in 2014 from Pune University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering joined the Tata Group as a Design Engineer.
One day, while returning home from the office, he saw a dead body of a dog which was lying in the middle of the road. "I’ve always been fond of dogs and also rescued quite a few. So, seeing a stray dog in that condition killed me. I stood there thinking about bringing the body to the side of the road when another car ran over it -- I was gutted," said Naidu.
Being a dog lover, Naidu wanted to do something. So he designed a collar for dogs with the help of his friends. The collar had reflectors on it to help drivers see the dog from afar. The following day, he and his friends went around to put the collars on the stray dogs.
Motopaws Team | Credit: Humans of Bombay
In an interview with Humans of Bombay, he said, "I didn’t know if it would work, but when I woke up the next day, I received a message saying that a dog had been saved because of the collar. It felt amazing!"
His initiative was widely praised and was even featured in the Tata group of companies’ newsletter. Soon the demand for collars plunged manifold, but the funds set back the initiative. It was then his father asked him to write a letter to Ratan Tata as he was also a dog lover. He said, "I was hesitant at first, but then I said to myself, ‘Why not?’ So I wrote him a handwritten letter and forgot all about it!"
Refractive Collars | Credit: Humans of Bombay
Naidu received a signed letter from Ratan Tata after two months which changed his life forever. Tata not only praised the initiative but expressed his desire to meet the young employee.
Naidu in an interview said, "A few days later I met him at his office here in Mumbai. He told me, ‘I’m deeply touched by the work you do!’ I still get goosebumps when I think of it. He then took me to his place to see his dogs, and that’s how our friendship began. He also funded our venture!"
Ratan Tata and Shantanu Naidu's first meeting | Credit: Humans of Bombay
Later, Naidu left India to pursue MBA at Cornell University but promised Tata to dedicate his life to work for the Tata Trust upon returning, a request which the iconic industrialist happily accepted.
Shantanu Naidu told Humans of Bombay about how he received a call from Ratan Tata upon his return to India and an offer he couldn't deny. "As soon as I came back to India, he gave me a call and said ‘I have a lot of work to be done in my office. Would you like to be my assistant?’ -- I didn't know how to react. So I took a deep breath, and a few seconds later said Yes!"
While people of his age go through a tough time finding the right set of friends, the right mentor, and the right kind of boss, Naidu has found all of these in one superhuman, Ratan Tata. "People affectionately call him Boss, but I like to call him the ‘Millennial Dumbledore’-I think that name suits him the best," said Naidu.
His brainchild, Motopaws, operates in 20 cities across 4 countries. He has also authored a book, I Came Upon a Lighthouse, where he talks about his experiences working with Ratan Tata. He even started an initiative 'On Your Sparks' where he give tips to young entrepreneurs. The fee charged by him for the webinar goes towards expanding Motopaws, an initiative to ensure the safety of animals.
Recently, Naidu shared his entrepreneurial experiences in TEDx. Check two truths shared by him that may help you excel in your entrepreneurial journey.