IndianOil wants to abolish Dir. R&D position

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

Approximately 500 employees at IndianOil's R&D facility in Faridabad outside Delhi will soon be without a full-time director on the company's Board to represent their interests.

Last month (November 2022), IndianOil forwarded a letter to the oil ministry asking permission to abolish the IndianOil director R&D position presently held by SSV Ramakumar. Many at the company feel this is unnecessary, but others argue that IndianOil has too many directors - presently, seven sit on its Board.

Among state-owned oil companies, IndianOil is unique in having a full-time R&D director. No such role exists at Bharat Petroleum, Hindustan Petroleum, ONGC or Oil India.

Ramakumar joined the IndianOil board on February 1 (2017) for a five-year term, later extended to July (2023) when he retires. If the oil ministry and the PMO approve IndianOil's request, Ramakumar will stay until July (2023).

"IndianOil can't demote a sitting director selected by the PESB and approved by the PMO," says a source. "But if the oil ministry and PMO approve the (abolition) proposal, he won't be replaced."

An IndianOil source questions the Board's decision to reduce its number of full-time directors from seven to six. "We have more than 31,000 employees, so seven directors are not too many," he says.

"Considering the ratio of employees per director at ONGC and IndianOil, the number of employees per director is more or less the same. On March 31 (2022), IndianOil employed 31,254 people, according to its annual report, an average of 4464 employees for each of its seven full-time directors; in the same year, ONGC employed 27,165 people or an average of 4527 employees for each of its six full-time directors.

"ONGC has created a new position (director strategy and planning) on its Board, but we (IndianOil) are reducing the number," he adds. "R&D is an important division in any company; we have developed many ground-breaking technologies."

Other directors on IndianOil's Board are SK Vaduguri, appointed director marketing on October 28 (2021); DS Nanaware, appointed director pipelines on December 28 (2021); RK Mohapatra, appointed director HR on February 19 (2018); Sujoy Choudhury appointed director planning and BD on February 23 (2022), and Sukla Mistry appointed director refineries on February 7 (2022). IndianOil's director finance position is still vacant after Sandeep Gupta became GAIL chairman on October 3 (2022).