YCD, as he was popularly called, headed the diversification of the conglomerate to an FMCG company.
He received Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award in 2011.
Deveshwar was also ranked the seventh best performing CEO in the world by the Harvard Business Review.
Yogesh Chander Deveshwar, 72, Chairman of ITC, and a powerful voice of India Inc for many decades, passed away Saturday. Deveshwar, who is survived by his wife and son, was ailing for some time.
According to corporate observers, Deveshwar led ITC’s strategic thrust to create multiple drivers of growth that would make a significant and growing contribution to the Indian economy.
The importance of Yogi Deveshwar
* Between 1996, the year when Deveshwar became chairman of ITC, and March 2017 (when he retired from the executive role), ITC’s annual sales expanded over 11-fold to Rs 55,000 crore, while shareholder returns grew at a compound annual rate of over 23%.
* Dealt with tough situations, including the turbulence at the company during a fight with its largest shareholder, British American Tobacco.
* Deveshwar was among the first chieftains of a major company to tap India’s vast countryside, by way of his unique e-Choupal concept, which hooked up farmers via the Internet for procurement of their produce — and by pushing the FMCG products in rural areas.
* He was very instrumental in transforming the Kolkata-based company from being mostly a cigarette maker to a conglomerate with interests in sectors such as the fast-moving consumer goods, hotels, paper and packaging, and agri-business. Now over 50 percent of revenues come from non-tobacco related businesses.
*He even took a break from ITC to run Air India in 1991-94.
Yogesh Deveshwar’s long journey at ITC
Deveshwar who joined ITC in 1968 was an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, and Harvard Business School. Between 1991 and 1994, he led Air India as Chairman and Managing Director when the then government brought in private sector leadership to revive the fortunes of the national carrier. He was appointed as a Director on the board of ITC on April 11, 1984, and became the Chief Executive and Chairman on January 1, 1996.
On splitting the role of the Executive Chairman between Chairman and CEO with effect from February 5, 2017, Deveshwar agreed to continue as Chairman in a non-executive capacity and also play the role of mentor to the executive management, recognizing the need for an orderly transition in a company of ITC’s size and complexity,
According to corporate observers, Deveshwar led ITC’s strategic thrust to create multiple drivers of growth that would make a significant and growing contribution to the Indian economy. His experience has guided ITC to become India’s foremost FMCG marketer nationally, the country’s largest and the greenest paperboards and packaging business, a globally acknowledged pioneer in the farmer empowerment through its wide-reaching agribusiness, the second largest hotel chain in India and a trailblazer in ‘green hoteliers’. The company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, ITC Infotech India Ltd is also a player of promise in the information technology sector.
The ITC’s initiative e-Choupal today is the world’s largest rural digital infrastructure on the global scale and is even a case study at the Harvard Business School, besides receiving several global awards worldwide.
He also served as a Director on the Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India and as a member of the National Foundation for Corporate Governance.
ITC MD Sanjiv Puri said, Deveshwar’s “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.”
“His ultimate Vision to make the societal value creation a bedrock of the corporate strategy also led ITC to become the 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,” Puri added.