From the Viewsroom

Leader-less and rudderless?

P Manoj | Updated on June 03, 2021

Succession planning conundrum at sell-off bound PSUs

Coming from the private sector, Mallika Srinivasan, is lot more aware of the importance of having full-time executives to run businesses even if they are state-run firms for which she is the government’s head-hunter. The first ever executive from the private sector and the first ever woman to helm the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), Mallika has fast-tracked the process of filling up top posts in public sector enterprises since assuming office in early April.

The PESB under her stewardship has so far selected 14 executives including CMDs, MDs and director level officials in 14 firms.

The selection includes the chairman and managing director as well as the finance director at Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd, which is in the process of being privatised. To be sure, the PESB selections will have to be ratified by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For those like Arun Kumar Singh picked by PESB to be the next chairman and managing director of BPCL, it offers a chance to helm the firm where they have spent their entire professional life.

If the ACC has its way, Singh (due for superannuation in August 2022) can be named the CMD of BPCL any time, a post that is lying vacant since the previous incumbent demitted office on August 31 last year. The additional charge of CMD is looked after by the HRD director of the firm.

If the privatisation process drags, the ‘Maharatna’ PSU should not suffer in the absence of a full-time CMD to give it a direction in the midst of existential challenges facing oil firms from renewables and climate change concerns.

At Shipping Corporation, another sell-off candidate, three key director-level posts, including finance, are lying vacant.

The government’s stance to make do with part-time CMDs and key functional directors in privatisation-bound firms on the premise that this task is better left to the new private owner, require a re-think.

Published on June 03, 2021

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