"We are very hierarchical, not feudal – given to honouring years of experience... We don't touch each other's feet but we still almost bow down every time when one passes."
Describing his long tenure as a "journey of great learning", Tata said that he had a role model to look up to in Mr J R D Tata whom he had got to know about six years after he joined the group.
He knew him but was not close to him and they had come close together because they were both pilots.
"I have been flying since I was 17 and when he came to Jamshedpur, it was flying which he liked to do and I liked to do. That brought us close and created a friendship between us which grew over the years," he said of the elder Tata.
"So it was a period of learning, a period of frustration also from time to time. Things didn't happen which as a young man I thought should happen.
"As an older person I understand being told as I was at that time that you have to be patient and so on as things don't happen as you might wish them to be."
Summing up his life with the 144-year-old conglomerate, Tata said, "On the whole it has been a very rewarding experience. I tried to uphold the values and ethical standards that were there.
"I feel satisfied that I have done my best to do what I considered to be the right thing and that has been there throughout."
Asked about moments of frustration, Tata said that there were many, recalling his first job in the foundries of TELCO where when one asked why something was being done in a particular way, one was told, 'this is the way we have done it and it is the best way'.
Has that changed in the group now?, Tata was asked.
"I have tried to change. I have been constantly telling people to encourage people to question the unquestioned and not to be ashamed to bring up new ideas, new processes to get things done.
"It has changed to some extent. I would be arrogant and lying if I were to say it has really changed. There are pockets which have changed and there are pockets which continue to be just as they were," he replied.
Asked about the goals he had set for himself when he took over