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PESB picks Harjeet Kaur Joshi to helm Shipping Corporation

P Manoj Mumbai | Updated on October 10, 2019 Published on October 10, 2019

Shipping Corporation of India

Appointment will make Joshi first female Chairperson of shipping major

Harjeet Kaur Joshi has been picked by the government head-hunter, the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), to helm Shipping Corporation of India (SCI), the country’s largest shipping company.

Harjeet Kaur is currently the Director Finance at SCI and, since September 12, has been holding the additional charge of the Chairperson and Managing Director of the navratna PSU.

The PESB recommendation finalised on Thursday has to be signed off by the Appointments Committee of the cabinet and when that happens, Harjeet Kaur will become the first lady to head SCI, which is 63.75 per cent owned by the government.

Hareet Kaur will take charge of SCI at a time when the government is planning to privatise the shipping company, posing some tough and sensitive challenges, particularly employee-oriented, to the new Chief Executive. But, the cosmopolitan and army-bred Harjeet Kaur is willing to take the challenges head on. Kaur, the youngest of the three children born to an army officer, said that her first choice was engineering.

“My father who was an engineer, didn’t have money for my engineering studies, so logically, he tried to convince me by saying that the family should have members from all discipline and since he already was an engineer he wanted me to select something different,” she reminisced.

Since I was academically good, my next suggestion was medicine and he realised it was even worse. She said, “At that stage in choosing a career, he told me be very sure of taking the medical profession because the profession needs you to be all the time up to-date with the technological changes that are taking place.‘If you do something, do it well. Will you be able to do that?’, he asked me.”

Kaur told BusinessLine on September 11, “That is when he told me, ‘I have not brought you up as a girl child, but I don’t know what future holds for you tomorrow.’ He bluntly told me I would not like you to deprive a man who is going to be a bread winner for the family and block the medical seat even though I was probably academically and intellectually able to do it. Of course, I understood much later that probably economically he could not have supported it.”

‘Be second to none’

She added, “So, he gave me some logic but that stuck in my mind that whatever you do, you do it well. Keep yourself abreast and be second to none. And that is what I followed all through my career.”

A staunch supporter of gender diversity, she said that men and women are made differently and when diversity is brought to the corporate table, productivity increases because we are bringing in a different point of view. If women have the capability, courage and conviction, nothing can stop them, she added.

“I have done a tougher job in ONGC, than what I’m doing in SCI, she said.

Kaur taught commerce and business management in Delhi University before joining ONGC, India’s biggest oil and gas producer and spent 31 years there.

Published on October 10, 2019
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