13 prepare for ONGC chairman interviews

Vol 23, PW 19 (30 Jul 20) People & Policy

Next month (August), the PESB is expected to interview candidates to replace ONGC chairman Shashi Shanker who retires on March 31 (2021).

The PESB first set May 11 as the application deadline. But because of Covid-19 this was extended to June 30 and then to July 15.

OP Singh, ONGC director technology and field services, features first on a list of 13 hopefuls: eight from ONGC, one each from PSUs Container Corporation of India (CONCOR) and IndianOil (IOC); two IAS officers and one from the Indian Railways. Singh took charge as a director on April 1 (2020) and is the only ONGC board member eligible to succeed Shanker with a clear two-years left to retire before April 1 (2021) when the new chairman takes charge.

Some argue his chances are slim as he will have been director only for one year before April 1 (2021). But Shanker is believed to be strongly backing him.

By contrast, (Ms) Pomila Jaspal (number 2 on the PESB list), is director finance at ONGC's refinery subsidiary MRPL since October 2019, five months before Singh became ONGC director. "More than technical expertise," says a source, "ONGC's chairman needs administrative skills and the ability to manage and influence the oil ministry and other stakeholders."

As a woman, Jaspal has an added advantage, but others discount this. "ONGC is too important an organisation for tokenism," we hear.

"The PMO wants someone who will execute its objectives."