Cover Story: Purnendu Chatterjee


Bengal Intelligent Park

PC: Chipping in where it matters

The road to success was paved with education. When he emerged out of I.I.T. Kharagpur with a degree in mechanical engineering, and loads of self-confidence, not West Bengal, but the West beckoned. He didn’t have loads of money though, but took the risk, flying in the early 1970s into Richard Nixon’s USA. Before leaving he visited his eldest sister with whom he has more of a filial relationship, and less of that of a sibling. Before every turning point in his life, it is to her that PC has always turned. Then, about to board the flight to the New World, he made a promise to his eldest brother Amalendu that he’d return a multi-millionaire. In later years, it was a promise he was to exceed by a mile.

Armed with a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley followed by a brief stint at the Stanford Research Institute, PC was ready to hit bulls-eye as far as his career went. In 1977, he joined McKinsey and Co in New York, his adopted city of stay, and by 1983 had shifted into its big league by becoming a principal at the firm.

On his personal net worth even global Chatterjee-watchers are unsure. Guesses range from $1 - 2 billion

The stint shaped his business acumen, sharpened his take-over instincts, and his ability to see beyond the immediate. He directed major strategies to benefit large industrial firms across the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania. Many of his clients specialized in electronics, chemicals, technology and science. Says Subhasendu Chatterjee a professional chemical engineer who is a director at TCG and HPL and is also PC’s elder brother, “The respect he earned at McKinsey has put him in good stead. There he was the wily turnaround strategist, restructuring operations with well thought out business plans and investment propositions.”

The value of time is uppermost in the “turnaround strategist’s” thought process. Even though he enjoyed McKinsey, PC knew that time was slipping away. He needed to be on his own. “Impatience, not patience, is a virtue,” he once told a packed audience. By 1986, TCG had been formed and soon the firm began to manage investments across the world—till date it has managed investments over U.S. $ 2.5 billion worldwide. He also became a close associate of global investor and venture capitalist George Soros, a man who saw in Chatterjee the kind of potential that could rapidly multiply his millions of dollars.
But even though his risk-taking hormones criss-cross his veins all the time, PC is not known to throw caution to the winds. Before moving in, he studies his clients closely, and his due diligence is commendable, reason why he seldom gets into a venture that is less than world class. Says Subhasendu Chatterjee, “PC is a cautious investor and digs deep into the intrinsic values of each proposal. He applies the same caution to his own investments.”


January 2006

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