World | India

Slym believed he was Keralite in a previous life

Tata executive felt a close bond with South India

  • Gulf News Report
  • Published: 15:13 January 27, 2014
  • Gulf News

Death plunge
  • Image Credit: Courtesy, Shangri-La, Bangkok
  • Tata Motors managing director Karl Slym, 51, died early on Sunday in an apparent suicide fall from the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok. He was attending a board meeting there.

Dubai: In an interview last year, Karl Slym said he was seeking to breathe new life by adding improvements into the egg-shaped Nano and that Tata Motors overhauled its manufacturing process to ensure fewer problems after cars roll off the assembly line.

Tata Motors is the automotive arm of the Tata Sons Ltd. group, a business empire headed by Cyrus P. Mistry that includes more than 100 companies in industries ranging from steel to call centres and chemicals.

“Karl was providing strong leadership at a challenging time for the Indian auto industry,” Mistry said in a statement yesterday.

Slym also professed a “love Kerala” and had said he wanted to retire in the South Indian state that markets itself as “God’s own country.”

He strongly believed that he was a Keralite in a previous life and that his name was Ramakrishnan. He also believed that his previous life in Kerala had something to do with wheels. Slym had told some of his friends that one astronomer predicted this and the moment he set foot in Kerala years ago, he knew that this was true.

At every opportunity, he visited Kerala and had recently attended a friend’s marriage in Cochin, a city that he referred to as his “native homestead.” His wife Sally and their and children wore traditional Indian clothes for the wedding festivities.

During another wedding of the daughter of a fellow executive, he stayed in his colleague’s house for three days and said he wanted to buy a traditional Kerala house to live for his retirement. The couple married in 1984 and he was an avid soccer and cricket fan.

Slym was born in Derby, central England, and graduated in 1984 from his postsecondary education in production engineering at the city’s university.

He started his career as a general manager at Toyota Motor Corp., before moving to General Motors in 1995. He held various roles with the US carmaker in locations including in Poland, Germany and at General Motors (GM) Canada’s main plant in Oshawa, just outside Toronto.

Following his move to India, he was featured in GM’s advertising campaign in 2008 to 2009.

Slym oversaw the sale of a 50 per cent stake in GM India to SAIC of China and announced the company’s plans to enter the light commercial vehicle market in India.

Slym was the second GM executive to be appointed managing director at Tata Motors. The company previously hired Carl-Peter Forster in 2010 from GM in Europe. Forster quit after less than two years at the company.

—Compiled from agencies

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