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A Keralite named Karl Slym

A Keralite named Karl Slym
Kottayam: There are many foreigners who love Kerala. But are there any foreigners who believed that they were Keralites in the previous birth and hence they should spend their retired life in the state in this incarnation? Former Tata Motors MD Karl Slym, who fell to his death from a hotel room in Bangkok, was an Englishman by birth, Indian by profession and a Keralite at heart. 

Such was Slym’s affection for God’s Own Country that he himself had said many times that he was a Keralite in the previous birth and that his name was Ramakrishnan! Though it was an astrologer who had made such an observation, Slym said he himself felt it was true when he made a visit to Kerala. Since then, he never missed a chance to visit Kerala. 

The last time he visited the State was for the wedding of Toyota dealer Babu’s daughter at Meridian. He was his usual pleasant self then and smiled saying “ I am back at my native place”. Slym, who came along with his wife for the wedding, wore a traditional Indian dress for the wedding. 

When he came for General Motor’s India vice-president Balachandran’s daughter’s wedding in Guruvayoor, Slym spent three days in Balachandran’s wife’s house in Muvattupuazha as a ‘typical Malayalee’. He had asked Balachandran many times to scout for a village-style residence for his retired life in Kerala.Balachandran, who considers Slym’s untimely demise as his own relative’s death, says Slym was always affectionate towards friends and peers. Slym’s death is not a setback to Tata Motor’s alone, it is a loss to the Indian motor vehicle industry as well. 

After taking over as MD in October 2012, Slym rolled out a slew of restructuring processes at Tata Motors and redefined flawed processes in the organisation with a view to elevate it to an international company. 

This pet project of Slym, coded Horizon Next, will be completed when a few more new vehicles would be rolled out from the company’s stable, though Slym would not be there to witness it. 

Slym, who had a distinct personality, would never attempt anything which he believed would not bear a definite result. This approach resulted in General Motors achieving a three-fold increase in sales when Slym was its President. Though he had left for China to take up General Motors’ new initiatives, it was his love for India that prompted Slym to take up Tata Motors’ offer. 

Peers remember him as a pleasant person who always spread positive energy. Slym has spend 17 years in Poland and Korea as GM’s international sales team’s representative. Even when the company was facing financial crises, Slym was instrumental in boosting sales by introducing various novel initiatives. Before GM, he had been associated with Toyota also. 

Slym, who was born in 1962 at Derby and studied at Stanford, had gone to Bangkok to attend the annual director board meeting of the Tata Motors’ Thailand unit. He fell to his death from his hotel room there.