Jaideep Mukherji, CEO, Smart Power India (SPI), is working towards providing innovative solutions to address India’s rural electricity access challenge. He says, “Mini-grids have a very important role to play in rural electrification in India and globally.” SPI, established in 2015, is a wholly owned subsidiary of New York-based The Rockefeller Foundation, involved in developing and scaling sustainable models to accelerate electricity access and spur economic development amongst rural, underserved communities.
“SPI envisages achieving quality and reliable electricity access for the unserved and the underserved by involving private participation in electricity distribution in rural areas through the Energy Service Framework (ESF) model,” says Mukherji. The ESF model takes the traditional distribution franchise model and aligns it with the government’s priorities of providing electricity access in rural areas by providing business and financial models that incentivise private players to improve electricity access, quality, reliability and customer service. So far, SPI has been instrumental in providing electricity to 220 villages across Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, impacting over 93,000 people and serving over 185 electricity-based micro-enterprises.
In the past, Mukherji has led the Asia-Pacific operations of d.light, the world’s largest clean energy product enterprise. He has also spearheaded McCain Foods’ India debut, pioneering the development of the frozen foods market. An accomplished corporate leader and strategist, he has extensive experience in building organisations and scaling-up new initiatives.
His management style is very adaptive. He believes that leaders have to be versatile and customise their management style to the situation before them. He elaborates, “In a crisis, my approach would be to take charge and be decisive rather than to deliberate and arrive at a consensus. Mostly though, I believe in empowering my team and encouraging them to engage with the organisation’s vision while connecting to it at an individual level.”
Mukherji has a B.Tech in chemical engineering from IIT, Bombay. He likes to maintain a work-life balance. One way he does this is by staying away from social media and avoiding the overwhelming deluge of “news”. This helps him use his time judiciously and keep abreast with relevant developments through selective use of digital platforms. In the future, he intends to work on solutions that lead to business and social win-win situation.