Noted industry leader and ITC Chairman YC Deveshwar passed away this morning after a brief illness. Deveshwar (72), who stepped down from executive role in 2017 but remained as a chairman in non-executive capacity, passed away this morning at a private hospital in Gurugram.
“We deeply mourn the passing away of Y C Deveshwar, Chairman ITC,” ITC Managing Director Sanjiv Puri said in a statement. 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 support over 6 million livelihoods, many amongst the weakest in society, Puri added.
He leaves behind his wife and two children — a son and a daughter. Deveshwar joined ITC in 1968 and was appointed as a director on ITC’s board on April 11, 1984. He rose to become its chief executive and chairman on January 1, 1996.
One of the longest serving top executives of a corporate entity in India, he was responsible for transforming ITC from mainly a cigarettes maker into a diversified entity with interests in FMCG, hospitality, paper, agri business and information technology, among others.
When Deveshwar took charge at the helm of the company in the mid-1990’s, ITC was confronted with formidable challenges, with diversification efforts either failing or languishing. The company’s revenue was less than Rs 5,200 crore and Profit Before Tax (PBT) stood at Rs 452 crore. In 2017-18, the company posted revenues of Rs 44,329.77 crore and net profit of Rs 11,223.25 crore.
“His leadership transformed ITC into a valuable and admired multi business conglomerate with a robust portfolio of front-ranking businesses in FMCG, hotels, paper boards and paper, packaging and agri-business. “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,” Puri said.
An alumnus of IIT Delhi and Harvard Business School, Deveshwar had also led Air India as chairman and managing director between 1991 and 1994. A recipient of Padma Bhushan — one of the highest civilian awards in the country — in 2011, Deveshwar also played his part in nation building, taking up various roles in several institutions.