Yogesh Chander Deveshwar, the former chairman of ITC group, took last breath on May 11 at the age of 72. The cause of his death is unknown but he was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. Being ITC's favourite till last days of his life, he was serving as non-executive chairman of the conglomerate. Deveshwar had joined ITC in 1968. During his tenure, the company changed from merely being a tobacco company to a conglomerate involved in sectors ranging from hospitality, FMCG to IT.
Let's find out more about the YC Deveshwar
Deveshwar was an IIT Delhi and Harvard Business School alumnus who joined corporate world just after the college and raising in ranks, he eventually went on to become the youngest chairman of a frontline conglomerate. In fact, he is longest-serving chairman for 23 years with ITC. He even worked as the Chairman and Managing Director of the national carrier, Air India between 1991 and 1994 when the government was bringing in the private sector leadership to revive the 'Maharaja.'
Deveshwar played a critical role in diversifying the Kolkata-based company's business from being mostly a cigarette maker to a conglomerate with interests in sectors such as fast-moving consumer goods, hotels, paper and packaging, and agri-business. The diversification helped ITC so much that at present, over 50 per cent of revenues come from a non-tobacco related business.
During his tenure as the Chairman of ITC (between 1996 and March 2017), the annual sale of ITC jumped 11 times to Rs. 55,000 crore while the investor's in the company received a return at 23% compound annual rate. Managing things in tough situations was the best capability of Deveshwar and it was proved from time to time. He took a break between 1991-94 to Run Air India and that was the time when the company's largest shareholder British American Tobacco and his predecessor KL Chugh were at the crossroads. Besides, the company was also accused of violating the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FCRA). But soon after his re-joining in ITC, Deveshwar turned the table and pulled the company out of trouble.
In his condolence message, ITC Managing Director (MD) Sanjiv Puri said: "Inspired by 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."