Corporate
Through the 20 years with Deveshwar at the helm, ITC’s revenue grew ten-fold from Rs 5,200 crore to Rs 51,500 crore.
Image source: PTI

ITC Group chairman YC Deveshwar, who was the longest-serving head of the FMCG conglomerate, passed away on Saturday following a brief illness. Deveshwar, 72, joined the company in 1968 and took over as the chairman of ITC Group in January 1996 and served at the helm till he stepped down from his executive role in 2017. He handed over the reins to Sajiv Puri, while he remained as chairman in a non-executive capacity.

He is credited with growing ITC into the large conglomerate it is, while leading its diversification into stationery and the FMCG segments. Through the 20 years with Deveshwar at the helm, ITC’s revenue grew from Rs 5,200 crore to Rs 51,500 crore, which is a ten-fold jump. Its market capitalisation grew 50 times from 1996 to 2016.

His leadership transformed ITC into a multi business conglomerate with a robust portfolio of front-ranking businesses in FMCG, Hotels, Paperboards & Paper, Packaging and Agri-Business.

Deveshwar was conferred the Padma Bhushan in 2011 and was ranked the seventh best performing CEO in the world by the Harvard Business Review in 2012.

Extending his condolences, Sanjiv Puri, MD and CEO of ITC said that Deveshwar passionately championed the cause for sustainable and inclusive growth and the transformative role businesses could play in creating larger societal value. This vision drove ITC to pursue business models that today supports over 6 million livelihoods, many amongst the weakest in society.

“We deeply mourn the passing away of Mr Y C Deveshwar, Chairman ITC. In this hour of profound grief and sorrow, we recall with respect and pride the legendary stewardship he provided to ITC over two decades as its Chairman. Inspired by a patriotic fervour, manifest in his clarion call of ‘Lets Put India First’, he led ITC's strategic thrust to create an exemplary Indian enterprise dedicated to serving national priorities,” Sanjiv said.

Deveshwar is an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Harvard Business School. He was also the Chairman and Managing Director of Air India between 1991-94.

“His Vision to make societal value creation a bedrock of corporate strategy also led ITC to become a global exemplar in sustainability and the only company in the world to be carbon positive, water positive and solid waste positive for over a decade. His superordinate vision to build an exemplary Indian enterprise, to serve national priorities, create the businesses of tomorrow, impeccable values and personal integrity, the width and depth of his strategic thinking and his compassionate conduct of business will continue to inspire us in the journey ahead,” he added.

He is survived by his wife Bharti Deveshwar and children Gaurav and Garima.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several prominent politicians and corporates also extended their condolences.