Karl Slym, the 51-year-old managing director of India’s largest automaker Tata Motors, died in Bangkok on Sunday in a freak accident at his hotel, reports fe Bureau in New Delhi.
Slym, who had been leading a business restructuring and modernisation exercise at Tata Motors, was in Bangkok to attend a board meeting of the company’s Thai subsidiary.
Reacting to Karl Slym’s sudden death, Cyrus Mistry, Tata Motors chairman, said, “I am deeply saddened to inform you about the untimely and tragic demise of our company’s managing director, Karl Slym. Karl was visiting Bangkok for a meeting of the board of directors of Tata Motors Thailand, and passed away earlier today.”
He added, “Karl Slym joined us in October 2012, and was a valued colleague who was providing strong leadership at a challenging time for the Indian auto industry. In this hour of grief, our thoughts are with Karl’s wife and family.”
A source said that Karl Slym had fallen from a higher floor at his hotel in the Thai capital, though not many details are available yet. His wife, Sally, had accompanied Slym for his business trip to Thailand.
A Briton and Indophile, Karl Slym previously worked with Toyota in the UK and General Motors for 17 years in Canada, Poland, India and China. He served as the chief of GM’s India unit between 2007 and 2011, before moving to China for about a year as the executive vice-president of a GM joint venture company. However, at the request of ex-Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata, Slym returned to India to head Tata Motors’ domestic and global businesses (except Jaguar Land Rover). “(Slym) was providing leadership to the company through a challenging market environment,” a Tata Motors statement said.
A Stanford alumnus and a Sloan fellow, Slym was highly respected within auto industry circles and was known for his wit and cheerful demeanour.
In a statement, the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers condoled the passing away from Slym, who had earlier also served as the chairman of the SIAM passenger car council and had also been an elected member of the SIAM executive committee since 2007.
“We have lost a well-wisher in Karl at a time when the company as well as the industry most needed his global expertise, leadership and guidance,” said Vikram Kirloskar, president, SIAM.
Tata Motors executive Karl Slym dies in fall from hotel
Reuters: Karl Slym, managing director of Tata Motors