A power professional with a career spanning more than 35 years, B.P. Rao started his journey as an industrial engineer with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) in 1978. He steadily worked his way up to become chairman and managing director (CMD) of the company in 2009, serving in this position till 2015.
A couple of years later, he joined Steag Energy Services India as managing director. The company supports utilities in increasing their operational efficiency and improving plant flexibility.
Given his long years of experience in the sector, he knows the pulse of the industry. The sector, he notes, is grappling with the problem of low demand, which is primarily on account of low economic activity in the country. “Demand needs to kick in for the revival of the power sector,” he says. The distribution segment is the other key challenge and the main impediment in achieving efficiency. “Despite initiatives such as UDAY, the distribution segment has witnessed only limited success,” he says. There is also inadequate implementation of the emission norms by utilities because of lack of investment in installing the required equipment. While he has a positive outlook on renewable energy, he admits it has its own set of issues. “The challenge is managing the grid and equipping conventional power plants to operate flexibly,” he observes.
Talking about his most memorable experience, Rao recalls the period 2007-08 when BHEL was facing major competition from Chinese equipment manufacturers. The PSU had to significantly ramp up its capacity to compete with these firms. Under his leadership, the company pursued a strong growth strategy, built up capacity and recorded a turnover of over Rs 50 billion in 2012-13. He led growth in almost all the divisions and operational areas of BHEL. He clearly cherishes the experience he gathered at BHEL, so much so that he plans to someday write a book on this.
Rao believes in a participative style of management and in involving the team in decision-making. A graduate in mechanical engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Kakinada, Rao also has a postgraduate degree in industrial engineering from NITIE, Mumbai. His family includes his wife and their two sons, all of whom are engineers. Despite his busy schedule, he tries to spend time with his family. He also enjoys listening to music, especially old songs.