Promising and exciting future

Promising and exciting future

Abhijit Roy, Director, Totem Infrastructure Ltd tells Niranjan Mudholkar how a culture of openness, positive attitude, energy and empowerment has helped his organisation retain talent and acquire success

Totem Infrastructure Ltd’s journey started in 2002, when Salalith Tottempudi, a technocrat-turned first-generation entrepreneur capitalised on his personal experience in the real estate sector to launch Totem Projects Pvt Ltd. The objective was to take advantage of the huge potential offered by the infrastructure sector. Rechristened Totem Infrastructure Ltd in 2007, the Company has since expanded across the country.

What is your assessment of the infrastructure scenario?
Despite the fluctuations observed across all sectors globally, a prominent sector which has not been affected adversely is the infrastructure sector. The global financial crisis has forced governments across the globe to focus on infrastructure projects as a means to combat the economic slowdown, and India is no exception for the same. The opportunities available in this sector are numerous as well as lucrative.
Despite having a positive orientation, it would not be fair on my part to say that the industry is not affected at all. The interest rates on project financing have scaled quite high which in turn affects the financial viability of most projects, especially in the highways sector.
There is no doubt that there is an attempt by the Government to underpin the infrastructure sector. Also multilateral support over the last few months has been very significant. The support extended by World Bank earlier this month for over Rs20,000 crore would go a long way in facilitating infrastructure investments in the coming years.
Taking into consideration the long term strategy adopted by the Government to enhance core infrastructure and increasing significance attached to PPPs, the present as well as the future of this sector seems to be very promising and exciting.

How has your company evolved vis-à-vis the infrastructural growth in the last ten years? How geared up is your company to take advantage of the opportunities?
Totem is a young and aggressive organisation which has been in this industry for the last seven years. Our foray into this sector has been at a very strategic time where more emphasis has been given for private sector participation and quality deliverables.
Our short term as well as long term planning strategy has facilitated us in achieving greater heights of excellence in a short period. The market scenario has also been very conducive for our growth. Taking into account the robust growth achieved by the organisation, we have been awarded the Emerging Infrastructure Company of the Year by Essar Steel & CNBC.
Our optimum mix of human capital, equipment and order book reflect the strength of our organisation and we are very much geared for undertaking projects in all verticals of infrastructure.

What have been the highlights of your company’s journey so far?
Being a young organisation we have been consistently pushing towards growth, profitability, and for having an increasingly large impact in the industry. Strong relationships with clients, quality execution, and a phenomenal team have helped us grow rapidly over the last several years.
We take pride in the below mentioned factors which differentiate us from other players in the industry:
• Consistent performance over the years
• Order Book has grown from a modest figure of Rs 1000 million in 2005-06 to Rs16,000 million in 2007-08.
• Client base comprising of large players from the Private as well as Public sectors. To name a few, NTPC (a Navaratna), Ircon International Ltd (only construction PSU to have Mini-Ratna status) and Sadbhav Engineering Ltd.
• Highly qualified & motivated workforce. Current manpower consists of 41% Civil Engineers, 26% Graduate Engineers, 19% Graduates, and 11% Post Graduates including MBAs.
• Leadership – bright, passionate coupled with entrepreneurial spirit.
• Decentralised work environment where employee empowerment is ensured at all levels
• Conscious efforts being taken to arrive at Standard Operating Procedures. Currently E&Y is working on the same.
• Strong financial arrangement. Enjoying limits from six banking institutions who have formed a consortium and are supporting Totem.
• Emphasis on training & development across all levels. One of the few companies that takes in freshers as GETs.
• Strong emphasis on quality execution. 100% execution of all current projects.
• JVs with leading players like Punj Lloyd with whom we have bid at the ORR in Hyderabad which is a Japan Government aided project
• Worked on ADB funded as well as centrally funded projects like NVDA.

What are the key challenges faced by your company? How are you addressing them?
One of the prominent challenges faced by our industry is talent acquisition, retention and deficiency of skilled manpower and we are no different.
Our attrition rate is average when compared to the industry levels; however it has been our constant endeavour to ensure that we overcome these challenges. Being a people organisation, we have always placed a strong emphasis on employee empowerment and accountability at
each level.
Our recruitment strategy of inducting graduate engineers and providing them with specialised training from reputed institutes like NAC, JNTU etc. have facilitated us in maintaining a strong pool of talent.
All our site offices are well connected and equipped with the latest software in construction technology. Our culture is one of openness, positive attitude, energy and empowerment. This has helped us a great deal in nurturing and retaining our talent which is the focal point of our organisation.

Name some of your major completed projects
• Internal railway line for BSECL
• Four Laning on NH3 from Pimplegaon-Dhule in Maharashtra

Name some of your key on-going projects
• Six Laning on NH8, Surat-Dahisar section, 40 km
• Six Laning on NH8, Shikopur Village-Daruhera town, 30 km
• Civil and Infrastructure related works for NTPC plant @ Mauda, Maharashtra
• Irrigation project @ Omkareshwar Project Canal Scheme Phase III.

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