Man with a steely resolve
It could be said that the qualities of great leaders should resemble the features of steel: Strength, versatility and durability are valuable attributes for both. At the recent Essar Steel Infrastructure Excellence Awards, one man stood apart: Ajit Gulabchand, Infrastructure Leader of the Year. We meet the man on whom so much depends.
Infrastructure development is arguably the key device for enabling both the economy and the community to progress and evolve. A country’s productive capacity essentially depends on well-directed infrastructure growth.
Essar Steel has established the Essar Steel Infrastructure Excellence Awards to acknowledge the role that people play in allowing this to happen. The company has already been involved in the development of a number of networking forums in the past and has established an infrastructure conclave.
These latest awards, inaugurated in March 2009, could become the benchmark for quality workmanship and outstanding achievements in the infrastructure domain.
The first ‘Essar Steel Infrastructure Excellence Awards’ ceremony was heralded by many in the sector as a great success. The pinnacle of the event was the awarding of the Infrastructure Leader of the Year’Award to Ajit Gulabchand, chairman and managing director at Hindustan Construction Company.
In this issue we discover what makes this man a recognised leader, and why he acts as a guiding light for not just his company, but for the entire infrastructure industry in the country.
Although we know him as the chairman and managing director of Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), one of India’s largest and oldest construction companies, Ajit Gulabchand started his professional journey as the chief executive of Indian Hume Pipe Co Ltd. He moved on to Ravalgaon Sugar Farm Ltd as MD and led it towards fast-track growth.
Now, as CMD at HCC, he has been recognised for not only his own achievements to date, but for what he inspires in others too, with Essar Steel’s inaugural Infrastucture Leader of the Year award.
Mr Gulabchand took charge at HCC in 1983 where he undertook various strategic management initiatives. HCC is known to respect traditional values and yet comes across as a vibrant modern company that keeps pace with advanced technology and global management practices.
Incidentally, that’s something that Essar Steel can easily relate to. Leading a team of more than 3,000 employees, Mr Gulabchand has grown HCC’s business portfolio to include all the major segments of the construction industry by undertaking challenging mega projects.
Under his leadership, HCC has worked on a majority of India’s key infrastructure projects including over 23% hydel, over 50% nuclear generation, 2,227 km of roads and expressways and over 160 km of complex tunnelling besides several others like bridges, dams and barrages.
Mr Gulabchand has also ensured that his company stays ahead in terms of implementing management best practices by acquiring international ISO certifications for management systems in Quality, Occupational Health & Safety and Environment.
Even though the industry has been slow in adopting corporate governance and IT, Mr Gulabchand was instrumental in establishing robust corporate governance norms and the fastest implementation of SAP-ERP for HCC.