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Tata Trusts, the philanthropic arm of the Tata group and largest shareholder in the group holding company, named Siddharth Sharma, 58, as its chief executive officer and Aparna Uppaluri, 48, as chief operating officer.

Sharma, a career bureaucrat of more than two-and-a-half decades, retired from government service in 2018 to join the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation. He joined Tata Sons in February 2019 as chief sustainability officer under N. Chandrasekaran’s chairmanship.

The appointment of Sharma follows Srinath Narasimhan’s retirement in October last year. The trustees appointing an in-house candidate for the key job that involves disbursing funds from the profits made by the business house to charitable causes is not surprising as it has traditionally opted for a Tata executive.

The previous incumbent, Narasimhan, held top executive and board positions within the group, including managing director of Tata Teleservices Ltd, before taking over as CEO of the philanthropic arm. Before Narasimhan, R. Venkataramanan held that position but as managing trustee. Both were, at some point in their career, executive assistant to Ratan Tata when he was the chairman of Tata Sons. Tata is now the chairman emeritus of Tata Sons but continues to hold an executive position as chairman of Tata Trusts.

The role of the chief operating officer, however, has been created for the first time. Based on her LinkedIn profile, Uppaluri’s previous assignment has been at Ford Foundation, a global philanthropic organization, where she worked as the acting programme director for India, Nepal, and Sri Lanka.

“Uppaluri is a well-regarded professional, with exposure in strategic planning and programme development in the fields of philanthropy, women’s rights, public health, arts, and culture. With over 20 years of leadership and management experience, she has led the grant-making initiatives at the Ford Foundation to advance programmatic commitment to strengthen gender justice and has also served as program director to oversee different verticals at the Ford Foundation," a Tata Trusts statement said.

Tata Trusts is one of India’s prominent philanthropic organizations, with Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and Sir Ratan Tata Trust, along with their allied Trusts providing financial support of about 2,000 crore annually to various initiatives. The Trusts also holds a 66% stake in Tata Sons, the main holding arm of the group.

Egon Zehnder, a global executive search firm, assisted in the hiring process. However, the global head hunter’s contribution in hiring Sharma is unclear as he was named from within the Tata group.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Sharma helped shape the Pranab Mukherjee Foundation’s interventions in the social development space, particularly education and rural healthcare. Prior to that, he handled several important assignments in the government, including in the President’s Secretariat, finance, external affairs, and urban development ministries.

He subsequently transitioned to the corporate sector as part of the leadership team of Tata Sons, the holding company of the Tata group, which has a combined market value of more than $300 billion.

At the Tatas, Sharma led the Tata Sustainability Group, a centre of excellence for mainstreaming environmental, social, and governance imperatives across the group.

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