ONGC directors push their EDs into firing line

Vol 20, PW 5 (17 Nov 16) People & Policy

Underlings are there to do the dirty work and also to take the blame.

Junior ONGC officers are complaining this perverse philosophy is taking root at the company with directors forcing executive directors to field uncomfortable questions from oil ministry bosses during review meetings. Two accused of such behaviour are director offshore Tapas Kumar Sengupta and director technology & field services Shashi Shanker, who some believe is destined to become the next ONGC chairman.

Ministry officials are demanding answers on why Mumbai High production is not meeting targets and why ONGC has failed to reverse the 7% annual natural decline despite completing two redevelopment phases with the third one ongoing. "For all this Sengupta forces (Mumbai High chief and executive director) Rajesh Kakkar to make presentations to the ministry," says a company source.

Sengupta, he claims, often sits in on these presentations and joins his ministry superiors in scolding Kakkar for the production shortfall. Other offshore asset managers who report to Sengupta face similar problems.

Shanker too is allegedly happy to let executive directors reporting to him deal with difficult questions. "Directors are ultimately responsible," says one ED.

"It's unfair of them to sit by and let their EDs take the blame. This is demoralising for middle managers.

Now everybody wants to play safe and decisions are delayed."

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