Covid-19 is a global crisis, evolving at an unprecedented speed and scale, and putting extraordinary demands on leaders in business and beyond. It is testing company and organisation heads in every sector, including power, which is a critical business operation that must continue in spite of the odds. Over the past year, there have been several management changes and new appointments across the public and private domains. These leaders face the difficult task of steering their organisations through financial and operational challenges in this rapidly evolving environment, besides addressing the needs of their people, customers and suppliers. They also need to formulate recovery strategies and assess opportunities for growth in the wake of the downturn. Power Line takes stock of the key appointments during the past year…
S.N. Sahai, Secretary, MoP
Sanjeev Nandan Sahai assumed charge as secretary, Ministry of Power (MoP), in November 2019. Prior to this role, he served as special secretary, MoP. He also served as additional secretary, MoP, from May 2018 to July 2019.
A 1986 batch IAS officer of the UT cadre, Sahai succeeded S.C. Garg, who applied for voluntary retirement. During the course of his career, Sahai has held several important positions in the central as well as state governments. These include director general (additional secretary equivalent) and additional secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, principal secretary in the Home department, chairman and managing director (MD) of the Delhi Transport Corporation, secretary-cum-commissioner, transport, for Delhi government, chairman of the Chandigarh Housing Board, and finance secretary in the Government of NCT of Delhi, and Home secretary.
The MoP is currently working on a slew of reforms for the sector. While deliberating on the amendments to the Electricity Act at a recent industry event, Sahai stated, “The consumer is at the heart of renewable energy power generation. To this end, amendments are being considered to the electricity legislations, which will recognise the right of the consumer to get good quality power at reasonable rates. For the renewable energy sector, prosumers will be allowed to set up rooftop solar units up to their sanctioned loads.”
Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi, Secretary, MNRE
In May 2020, Indu Shekhar Chaturvedi assumed charge as secretary in the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE). He succeeded Anand Kumar, who took charge as secretary, Ministry of Culture.
Chaturvedi is a 1987 batch IAS officer belonging to the Jharkhand cadre. Prior to his current role, he served as additional chief secretary and additional secretary (climate change department) in the department of forest, environment and climate change, government of Jharkhand. He has worked with the state and central governments in various positions at the field and policy levels. He has also worked as joint secretary or equivalent in the prime minister’s office, and the department of economic affairs under the Ministry of Finance, as well as the Planning Commission, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.
Chaturvedi has a B.Tech. in electrical engineering from IIT Kanpur and a postgraduate degree in international development from Harvard University, USA. He has also received training in financial management, community mobilisation and participatory management techniques.
Abhay Kumar Singh, CMD, NHPC Limited
In February 2020, Abhay Kumar Singh took over as chairman and managing director (CMD) of NHPC Limited. Prior to this, he held the position of executive director, NHPC, and was acting as a nominee director in Loktak Downstream Hydroelectric Development Corporation Limited.
Singh graduated as a civil engineer from the National Institute of Technology, Durgapur, and started his professional journey in 1985, joining NHPC at its Tanakpur hydroelectric project as a probationary executive. He has 35 years of experience and has played pivotal roles in setting up many hydro projects including the Tanakpur (120 MW), the Dhauliganga (280 MW), Teesta Low Dam Stage IV (160 MW), Parbati Stage II (800 MW), Parbati Stage III (520 MW) and Kishanganga (330 MW) projects. Singh is a recipient of the Hydro Ratna award from the Renewable Energy Promotion Association and the ENERTIA Foundation.
Singh is passionate about hydropower development, and is open to advancements and diversification in the power sector, including other renewables. “During the Covid lockdown situation, and especially the 9 PM-9 minute initiative, hydropower stations demonstrated their capabilities in providing stability to the grid,” stated Singh in a recent interview with Power Line on the impact of Covid-19 on the hydro sector.
R.S. Dhillon, CMD, PFC
In May 2020, Ravinder Singh Dhillon was appointed CMD of power sector financier Power Finance Corporation (PFC), following the superannuation of the incumbent CMD, Rajeev Sharma. He will hold the post until his superannuation in May 31, 2023 or until further orders. At the time of his appointment, Dhillon was serving as director (projects) at PFC.
He has more than 35 years of experience in various areas of the power sector. At PFC, he has worked in various capacities for over 25 years, handling project appraisal, business development, stressed assets revival and project monitoring. He has also been associated as director in the development of the Mundra ultra mega power project. Prior to joining PFC, Dhillon worked with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) and the Central Electricity Authority. He is an electrical engineer by training and a postgraduate in power systems from IIT Delhi.
In a fourth quarter 2019-20 earnings call in July 2020, Dhillon stated, “From a liquidity standpoint, I would like to highlight that PFC’s borrowing has been continuing even during the lockdown. Further, during the current financial year 2021, we have been able to successfully raise close to Rs 290 billion from the domestic market, majorly through a mix of bonds and term loans. Going forward, I am confident that we will have sufficient liquidity levels to fund our business operations.”
S.K. Gupta, CMD, REC Limited
Sanjeev Kumar Gupta assumed additional charge as CMD, REC Limited, from June 2020, succeeding Ajeet Kumar Agarwal, who superannuated in May 2020. Gupta has been director (technical) of REC Limited since October 16, 2015.
Over the course of his 37 years of experience in the power sector, he has worked in various large hydropower and transmission projects, and handled several international assignments while serving in Power Grid Corporation of India Limited and NHPC Limited. Since 2010, he has contributed extensively to the creation of power sector infrastructure by handling REC’s financing portfolio for conventional and non-conventional energy, and transmission and distribution projects. He has also been responsible for business development at REC. As director (technical) with the company, he has been instrumental in monitoring the successful implementation of village and household electrification under the Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana and the Saubhagya programme.
Gupta holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the G.B. Pant University of Agriculture & Technology, Pantnagar, Uttarakhand.
Pradip Kumar Das, CMD, IREDA
Pradip Kumar Das assumed charge as CMD of the Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency (IREDA) in May 2020. He succeeded K.S. Popli, who completed his five-year tenure with IREDA.
Prior to joining IREDA, Das served as director (finance) and chief finance officer (CFO) of the Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC). Under his leadership, ITDC became the only PSU under the aegis of the Ministry of Tourism to trade under the trade-for-trade segment of the NSE. He was actively involved in the financial management of ITDC, including optimum utilisation of funds, investment decisions, and adherence to corporate governance practices with a view to improving the profitability of the organisation on a continuous basis.
During his career, Das has worked with REC Limited, BHEL, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited, and other organisations in different capacities. He has a postgraduate diploma in management from the Xavier Institute of Management, Bhubaneswar.
“IREDA is fully committed to building energy security in India through renewable sources. Being a non-banking financial company and enjoying a unique position in the renewable energy sector, IREDA has been regularly introducing new and innovative financial products,” stated Das in his joining address.
Rajat Sud, MD, EESL
In September 2020, Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture of various PSUs under the MoP, announced the appointment of Rajat Sud as its managing director (MD). Sud takes over from S. Gopal, director (commercial), who had additional charge as interim MD.
Sud is an energy sector veteran, with 29 years of industry experience. His repertoire of work encompasses energy sector restructuring, business strategy, performance improvement, and acquisitions. He has several notable accomplishments in securing international consulting engagements, building teams and businesses, driving innovative solutions growth, policy formulation, and reforms in the power sector. Before joining EESL, Sud served as executive vice-president at Sterlite Power Transmission Limited, where he was responsible for the growth of the services business. Earlier, he also served in leadership positions at Siemens IT Solutions and PwC. On his new role, Sud said, “EESL’s impactful initiatives in buildings, transportation, lighting and energy generation have created unprecedented milestones. I am delighted and honoured to lead this pioneering company and will work towards the goal of building an energy-secure and resilient nation, through innovative energy efficiency programmes.”
Anil Sardana,MD, Adani Power
In July 2020, Adani Power announced the appointment of Anil Sardana as MD and additional director. The incumbent MD, Rajesh Adani, became a non-executive director on the board of the company.
Sardana is currently MD and CEO of Adani Transmission Limited. Prior to joining the Adani Group, he was MD and CEO of Tata Power. He has over three decades of experience in the power and infrastructure sectors. He started his career with NTPC and subsequently worked with BSES and Tata Group companies in the power and infrastructure sectors.
Adani Power Limited recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire a 49 per cent stake in Odisha Power Generation Corporation Limited from the affiliates of AES Corporation, USA, at a valuation of INR equivalent to $135 million.
“While the environment is challenging, we continue to stand true to our commitments and demonstrate operational and executional excellence. We are confident that as the lingering effects of the Covid-19 lockdown wear out, the economy will bounce back, and we will see improved power demand as well as improved cash flows,” stated Sardana in a press statement while announcing the results for the first quarter of 2020-21.
Sardana is a graduate in electrical engineering from Delhi University and also holds a PGDM from the All India Management Association.
N. Venu, MD, India, and Region Head, South Asia, Hitachi ABB Power Grids
N. Ven is managing director, India and head of South Asia at Hitachi ABB Power Grids, a role he took over in December 2019. Venu brings with him over three decades of experience in the power sector, in India and around the world, and has held various leadership positions including head of ABB’s Power Grids Business in South Asia, Middle East and Africa.
While talking about the newly formed Hitachi ABB Power Grids in a recent interview with Power Line, Venu said, “The joint venture brought together two iconic companies to create a new global leader in the power sector with a sizeable and complementary presence across global markets. It sent a clear signal of continuity in terms of business, strategy, transformation and people, ensuring that Hitachi ABB Power Grids can build on its strong heritage. Some synergies include the ability to boost our renewables leadership with Hitachi solutions, enlarge Hitachi one-stop solution with our grid connect, and combine our EV charging with Hitachi smart city concept.”
In his earlier roles, he has been president of Power Systems at ABB India, a part of the global Power Systems Leadership Team and ABB India’s country management team. He brings extensive experience in the power sector, across geographies and has led several successful change management initiatives across global operations. He is an active member of various professional bodies including the India Smart Grid Foundation, Cigre, IEEE and IEEMA.
Ashish Bhandari, MD and CEO, Thermax Limited
In February 2020, Ashish Bhandari was appointed joint MD of the Thermax Group, effective April 20, 2020. He subsequently took over as MD and CEO when M.S. Unnikrishnan retired from this position.
Bhandari joined Thermax from Baker Hughes (formerly a GE company), where he was VP, India and South Asia. Bhandari is an engineering graduate from IIT Bombay, and received his MBA from Duke University, USA. “I have long admired Thermax as India’s foremost technology-driven industrial company. I thank Meher [Pudumjee] and the Thermax board for giving me this opportunity. Unnikrishnan is an inspirational leader who has built a great team and has successfully delivered on all aspects over his significant career with Thermax. I look forward to leading the company through the next phase of its growth journey,” stated Bhandari on his appointment.
Ganesh Srinivasan, CEO, TPDDL
In November 2019, Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (Tata Power-DDL) announced the appointment of Ganesh Srinivasan as the company’s new CEO. He took over from Sanjay Banga, who was elevated to the position of president, transmission and distribution, Tata Power, Mumbai. Prior to moving to Tata Power-DDL, Srinivasan was chief, transmission and distribution, Tata Power, Mumbai. He has been with Tata Power since 2012 and has also headed the strategy and corporate planning division there. He started his career with Cummins India Limited. He has also worked with McKinsey & Company.
“The distribution segment is the most critical part of the power sector value chain, which actually pays for generation and transmission. Therefore, the health of the distribution sector is critical for the whole power sector. We are looking forward to the implementation of the proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, including several key features pertaining to sublicensing, tariff policy, especially related to cross-subsidy, which will help reform the sector in a big way. We are also looking forward to the privatisation of power distribution, not only in the UTs but in various states as well,” stated Srinivasan in a recent interview with Power Line.
Srinivasan has a B.Tech from IIT Madras and an MBA from the Indian School of Business. He also has a master’s in industrial engineering from Purdue University, USA.
Pitamber Shivnani, CEO, GE T&D India
In January 2020, GE T&D India announced the appointment of Pitamber Shivnani as CEO and president, GE Grid Solutions South Asia. In this role, he is responsible for managing GE’s grid solutions markets for India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar. Shivnani brings to the table rich experience of over 30 years in the transmission and distribution segments. He joined GE T&D India from ABB, where he was most recently president of ABB India’s Power Grids Division.
Shivnani has replaced Sunil Wadhwa, who left the company last year to pursue opportunities outside GE. Sharing his thoughts on joining GE, Shivnani said, “This is indeed an exciting opportunity for me. I look forward to leading and growing the GE T&D business in South Asia.” His leadership is expected to support GE T&D India’s vision of bringing significant transformation in the business by expanding its manufacturing footprint in India and continuing to steer a strong and high-growth organisation.
An alumnus of IIT Roorkee, Shivnani also attended the Senior Leadership Development Program at the International Institute of Management Development in Switzerland and Harvard School of Business, USA.