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Gopalakrishnan earned a bachelor's degree in Physics from St Xavier's College Calcutta University, a bachelor's degree in Electronics from IIT Kharagpur in 1967 and did a six-week Advanced Management Programme from Harvard Business School, United States.
He has lived and worked in India, the UK and Saudi Arabia. He began his career in 1967 as a computer analyst with Hindustan Lever. He worked in the marketing function before moving to general management. During his years with Unilever, he was based in Jeddah as CEO of the Arabia unit; later, he was managing director of Brooke Bond Lipton India and then vice-chairman with Hindustan Lever. He has been president of the All India Management Association. He is married and has three children.
- Gopalakrishnan, R (2009). The case of the bonsai manager : lessons from nature on growing. Penguin, Portfolio. ISBN 9780670081318.
- — (2011). When the penny drops : learning what's not taught. Portfolio Penguin. ISBN 9780670082964.
- — (2013). A comma in a sentence : extraordinary change in an ordinary family over six generations. Rupa Publications India. ISBN 978-8129129772.
- — (2015). What the CEO Really Wants From You: The 4 As for Managerial Success. HarperCollins India. ISBN 978-9351365211.
- — (2015). Six lenses : vignettes of success, career and relationships. Rupa Publications India. ISBN 978-8129135872.
- — (2017). A biography of innovations : from birth to maturity. India: Penguin. ISBN 978-0670089895.
- —; Banerjee, Ranjan (2018). The made-in-India manager. Hachette India. ISBN 978-9351952510.
- — (2019). Crash : lessons from the entry and exit of CEOs. India: Penguin. ISBN 978-0670090778.
- "Gopalakrishnan does not seek re-election on Tata Motors board". Tata Motors. 3 August 2010.
- "About Us: R Gopalakrishna". Tata Group. Archived from the original on 12 July 2008. Retrieved 5 April 2015.
- "R Gopalakrishnan". IIT Kharagpur. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
- "R Gopalakrishnan". Forbes. Archived from the original on 7 October 2014.
- "R Goapalakrishnan". Penguin Books India. Archived from the original on 27 March 2016.
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