Santosh Gurunath: CEO and Co-Founder, Umagine

Santosh Gurunath, CEO and Co-Founder, Umagine

Santosh Gurunath is CEO and co-founder of Uma­gi­ne, has had an interesting professional journey. He star­ted as a process engineer with Shell in Amsterdam, re­s­ponsible for concept engin­e­e­ring of syngas and hydrogen plants. Later, he worked with Sh­­ell Pernis as pro­ce­ss technologist and team lead for the hydrogen manufacturing and HF alkylation units. He then joined McKinsey & Company as a consultant in the energy practice.

In 2019, he established Umagine in the Netherlands. He and his team executed several rooftop solar and EV charging infrastructure projects as an EPC pro­vider until 2021. Since 2021, Umagine has been headquartered in India, with a primary focus on green hydrogen. The co­m­pany provides services in strategy, policy and concept engineering;  is a system integrator for projects; and develops its own hydrogen fuel cell technology for stationary power generation applications.

Gurunath’s role is both exciting and demanding, as he navigates challenges such as an inadequate regulatory environment and a lack of technology standards. “As a 100 per cent green hydrogen company, bootstrapped through its own revenues, it is challenging to ensure reliable cash flows in the Indian market. At this point, we have a measured view of the green hydrogen market in India. On the positive side, MNRE and other ministries are playing a proactive role with a range of policies and incentives for both the private and public se­­ctors. Most large companies have also stepped up with pilot pro­jects, plans for manufacturing and production facilities,” he says.

Gurunath’s management style is very hands-off. He says, “I dislike micro-management. I expect my team to take ownership, ensure the work gets done within deadlines and meet quality standards. We have a very flexible policy, with no restrictions on the number of holidays, fostering a conducive work-life balance.

A chemical engineering graduate from the National Institute of Techno­lo­gy, Calicut, Gurunath also has a master’s degree from Delft University of Techno­logy in the Netherlands. He enjoys writing on various topics, including human evolution, sustainability, de-gro­wth, me­n­­­tal health and contrarian views on al­most everything. “I also listen to audiobooks on topics ranging from philosophy to evolution,” he says. “Audible keeps me going during my travels.”