Outsider needed to re-boot GAIL marketing

Vol 26, PW 1 (15 Dec 22) People & Policy

If GAIL wants to revitalise its marketing division, the best way might be to bring in an outsider with new ideas and a fresh approach as director marketing.

Many at GAIL believe this is the only way and point to the company chairman role, where the oil ministry parachuted in former IndianOil director finance SK Gupta. By December 8 (2022), the PESB received applications for the post of GAIL director marketing, vacant since January 18 (2022), when ES Ranganathan was arrested on corruption charges.

MV Iyer, GAIL's director BD, is the interim director marketing until a full-time replacement for Ranganathan takes charge. "GAIL needs an outsider to come in and shake up the marketing division, the same way (CMD) Gupta was brought in," says a well-placed source.

"All the eligible candidates from GAIL are from a gas pipeline operations and maintenance background; they have hardly any marketing experience." Gupta, who took charge on October 3 (2022), might play a role in bringing in someone with more relevant marketing experience from outside the company, as he will sit on the PESB interview panel and can influence its decision.

GAIL focused on creating a marketing team only during Proshanto Bannerjee's time as CMD from August 2001 to August 2006. Bannerjee, a former ED at IndianOil, was the first 'outsider' to become GAIL chairman.

"When Bannerjee's term ended, the focus on marketing diminished," we hear. "Many recruits with engineering and management degrees who joined the marketing division became frustrated and quit."

But despite all the talk of an 'outsider', at least four executive directors and one chief general manager from GAIL are eligible for the upcoming PESB interviews. They include executive directors Sanjay Kumar, MD of GAIL joint venture Indraprastha Gas; Sumit Kishore, head of downstream gas marketing; Rajeev Singhal from business development; and Anupam Mukhopadhyay, head of operations and marketing at GAIL Gas.

Also likely to be in the race is Kumar Shankar, chief general manager of regulatory affairs since April 2018. "More EDs and CGMs would have applied, but they have little marketing experience and are unlikely to be interviewed," says a source.