Scaling new heights: Q&A with S. K. Chaturvedi
We were able to use the recession for our advantage in terms of growth, hiring, performance, target achievement and attracting good talent
In an exclusive interaction with People Matters, Shri S. K. Chaturvedi, CMD, POWERGRID discusses the daunting challenge of achieving 178,000 mega watt capacity and the risk of talent poaching from private sector players as they enter the transmission sector.
Hiring in both public as well as private sector was on a downside last year due to slowdown. What was the impact on POWERGRID in terms of reduced hiring?
The recession in fact gave us an opportunity to spend more and attract good people. During the recession, it was the power sector, and within that the transmission vertical which flourished. If you look specifically at POWERGRID and the kind of expansion we engineered in FY 2008-09 and 2009-10, it was much higher than any previous year. We had maximum recruitment of around 1,600 people and our profits and turnover increased to a record high. We saw a surge of candidates from institutions like IIMs and IITs wanting to join us. So for us, recession was an opportunity as we were able to turn the events for our advantage in terms of growth, hiring, performance, target achievement and attracting good talent.
What challenges does POWERGRID face in attracting talent?
At POWERGRID, we constantly need people to take charge of senior positions of departments such as Finance, Engineering, HR, et al. Then we also need people from technical background to run field operations and manage supervisory roles as well as people for shop floors. Most of our recruitment takes place through our induction program from ITIs and Diploma Colleges. However, we face a challenge to get experienced people. Since the private sector is also coming in a big way and there is going to be a shortage of skilled labor, we conduct training sessions for young recruits such as engineers and technicians and prepare them for future roles.
Like you mentioned, with the private sector coming in a big way, there is fear of talent poaching considering shortage of talent. What measures is POWERGRID taking to retain talent?
Transmission as a sector was not open to private sector earlier. But it is only in the last three years that we are seeing a surge of private players in transmission. We are sure that poaching will be there and have therefore taken certain proactive steps to retain our talent. Before taking steps to tackle the issue of poaching, it is important that we first understand the levels where it actually happens. Poaching happens when very experienced employee from a specialized field moves out in lure of better package and luxury. It happens only in the case of experienced senior employees since their capability and knowledge base is built over a period of time and their exit creates the pinch for businesses. The difference in compensation of a senior experienced person in public sector from its private sector counterpart is comparable. To control talent poaching at the senior executive levels, we’ve introduced good post-retirement medical facilities till death for employees as well as their families. Today, employees evaluate such facilities and benefits before falling prey to talent poaching. We’ve made post-retirement schemes more lucrative so that our senior most employees appreciate the efforts of the organization to retain them.
To retain our talent at middle and junior levels, we’ve started building cadet recruitment and are also hiring additional 2-3% so that we create a roster and there is no immediate impact on the functioning of different operations. Secondly, as far as our perks and pay scales are concerned, we’ve made our compensation very attractive for the next 10 years; there is hardly any difference between the compensation of a new entrant or a mid-level employee at POWERGRID vis-à-vis their counterparts in the private sector. In fact, in certain positions, we are paying even more than what the private sector is offering. We believe that if an organization is proactive in maintaining and retaining its knowledge base and in creating a pipeline of experienced people, the scarcity will never arise.
What future challenges do you foresee in the transmission sector?
Due to Government of India’s focus on the power sector as its number one priority and transmission being a monopoly industry, POWERGRID has to play a major pivotal role in this sectoral development. In fact, with the increase in generation capacity, we will be required to make just a duplicate of POWERGRID in terms of scale, operations, and finances. In the 11th five year plan, POWERGRID has to achieve the target of 78,000 mega watt, and till 2017, an additional capacity of 1 lakh mega watt. This brings the total to 1,78,000 mega watt capacity to be completed in two plans. And there is only POWERGRID which will work toward achieving this target. So, this in itself is challenging for us but we are all set to achieve this mammoth task.
Management Style: Honest and transparent management, leading by example.
Best Business Advice: Never have a personal motive behind doing a particular work.
India of your dreams: To be a fully secular country, in true sense of the word.
Favourite Leader: Indira Gandhi, because I believe she was the only man in Indian politics.
The Company: Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (A Government of India Enterprise).
Business: POWERGRID, the Central Transmission Utility (CTU) of the country, is engaged in power transmission business with the mandate for planning, co-ordination, supervision and control over complete inter-State transmission system.
Financials: Gross Turnover for the Fiscal 2009-10 grew to Rs.7,503.58 crore (an increase of 22.23% compared to the previous fiscal 2008-09). Profit after Tax during the year increased to Rs.2,040.94 crore from Rs.1,690.61 crore in Fiscal 2008-09, registering a growth of 20.72%
(Source: Company Annual Report for 2009-10)