Lessons on becoming HPCL director marketing
Vol 14, PW 19 (24 Mar 2011) - Politics & People
Eight months have passed since S. Roy Choudhury became chairman of Hindustan Petroleum. Yet the director marketing position he left behind is still empty, caught in the crossfire between supporters of two candidates battling to replace him: Nishi Vasudeva, 54, executive director in the company’s LPG business, based in Mumbai, who came first in PESB interviews on December 21; and Sudhakar Rao, 57, executive director ‘direct sales’, also based in Mumbai, who came second. Rao, we hear, has enlisted the help of three Congress MPs from his home state Andhra Pradesh, hoping their relationship with oil minister Jaipal Reddy, also a Congress MP from Andhra Pradesh, will help. One of the MPs, Suresh Shetkar, elected from Zahirabad, confirms to this report he wrote to Reddy in February, asking the minister to overturn Vasudeva’s selection, claiming she does not have the minimum two years marketing experience needed to apply for this high-profile post. “I met Jaipal Reddy also,” Shetkar tells this report. “Rao has more than seven years marketing experience. Injustice should not happen to him.” Shetkar adds: “I am trying to help Rao. He is a very old family friend; he helped my brother.” Asked to respond, Rao said: “I don’t know this MP (Shetkar). And I don’t know his brother.” Denials aside, Rao supporters argue Vasudeva joined HPCL’s marketing division only a year ago in February 2010, falling short of the two-year mandatory experience. “But (chairman) Roy Choudhury supports her,” says a Rao supporter. Friends of Vasudeva, a graduate of the prestigious Indian Institute of Management in Kolkata, counter this by saying her PESB selection was made on merit. “She did well in the interview,” we hear. “That’s why she came first. All her papers are in order.” HPCL’s director marketing post is vacant since August 1 last year when Roy Choudhury became CMD.
NOTE: Congress MP Suresh Shetkar confirms to this report that during his meeting with Reddy the oil minister promised to review Vasudeva’s selection and consider Rao for the position. This might explain the delay in any formal announcement, as Reddy is fast gaining a reputation as a slow decision-maker, particularly on sensitive PSU appointments. If selected, Vasudeva would become the first woman full-time director on a state-owned oil company board. Eighteen candidates submitted CVs by last year’s October 18 deadline. Fifteen were shortlisted, among them seven internal HPCL candidates, including AB Thosar, an executive director in the pipelines and projects division; MS Damle, an executive director in the retail division; YK Gawali, an executive director in the distribution division; and two (lower rank) general managers.