Alok Sharma favourite for IOC director R&D

Vol 26, PW 19 (07 Sep 23) People & Policy

IndianOil executive director Alok Sharma is best placed to replace SSV Ramakumar as IndianOil's new R&D director, according to company sources.

On August 31 (2023), the PESB released a list of eight shortlisted candidates and scheduled interviews on September 12 (2023) to replace Ramakumar, who retired on July 31 (2023). Seven of the eight candidates are from IndianOil; one is from BPCL.

"EDs are given preference for the director position," says a source. "They have more experience handling the business and the team."

But only two IndianOil candidates are EDs: Umish Srivastava in R&D and Alok Sharma, on deputation as ED of the Centre for High Technology (CHT), a dedicated oil ministry technology department. Set up in 1987, the CHT acquires, develops, and adopts technologies in refinery processes and petroleum products; it also focuses on technology modernisation.

"His diverse career profile and core chemical engineering background give Sharma an advantage over competitors," we hear. "He has exposure to refinery process technologies, alternative energy and policy-related matters."

Sharma has spent much time in the R&D division and is more experienced than Srivastava, who was promoted to ED only this year. "Srivastava has mostly worked in solar energy, tribology (study of friction and lubrication), and packaging," we learn.

"He has limited experience in core R&D activities; Sharma is fully aware of the R&D set-up and was also the technical lead for IndianOil's new R&D campus." Others on the list are Ajay Kumar Hariharan, CGM at CHT (also on deputation from IndianOil); Alex Pulikottil, CGM petrochemicals and catalysts in the R&D department; Sarvesh Kumar, CGM in the R&D department; and GMs Satyen Kumar Das and M Sitananthan.

"Ajay Kumar also has a tribology background," we hear. "Pulikottil and Sarvesh Kumar lack experience and exposure handling diverse R&D portfolios."