It takes enormous discipline, competence and inspiring personality to run administration for one of India’s largest infrastructure companies.
And Major Ramakrishnan, Sr. Vice President Administration at Reliance Infrastructure is bestowed with all three.
The INSIDE FM JOBS (IFJ) team from “Kaarya Facilities” gets the opportunity to spend time with the extremely fit looking Major and marvel at his journey so far.
What is Reliance Infrastructure all about? And what is your role here?
We are present in all key infrastructure segments such as Roads, Energy (Generation to Distribution), Cement, Metro Rail, Airports, and EPC (Engineering, Procurement, Construction) and are an INR 15,000 cr+ company with national presence.
My job is to get all administration functions on a common platform across all group businesses and ensure that deliverables get from good to better. Like in any leadership role, the emphasis is on systems and processes that deliver seamless operations.
In tangible terms, I am responsible along with my team to manage the business infrastructure (office infra, sourcing/procurement in conjunction with Commercial, as well as managing vendors) of over 1.3 million sq. feet of real estate space spread over Mumbai, Delhi, Cochin, Hyderabad, Bangaluru and Goa.
Being a key company of the Anil Ambani Reliance Group, I am also part of the team responsible for holding various AGMs, SGMs of other group companies.
I also play a role in various CSR initiatives of the company such as the Reliance Marathon for Senior Citizens.
Tell us about your professional journey so far?
Now I will have to spill my real age. I am approaching 60 and have close to 40 years of professional experience. I had the honor of serving the Indian Army for 21 years where I was deputed on various challenging assignments. I have been a System Analyst with DRDO (Defense Research and Development Organization) as well as served as Instructor with the Indian Army (Weapons, Guns and Computers)
My First assignment in the corporate world was with Reliance Industries from 1997 to 2000 during the time that Jamnagar Refinery was being enhanced.
This was followed by stints at Nerolac Paints (National Head Administration), Bharti Airtel, Vedanta Resources and finally Reliance Infrastructure.
Any interesting experiences you would like to share?
I would like to talk about a breakthrough initiative that I was part of during my stint with Reliance Industries. These were the times when we were awfully short of Chemical Engineers, who were willing to relocate to Jamnagar.
Those days the execution staff was internally categorized into Supervisory and Non-supervisory staff. A decision was made to handpick a few non-supervisory staff and through an internal skilling and training program convert them to chemical engineers on par with the IITs and NITs. We ran a program for 3 days every week for over 2 years overseen by the Dean of IIT Mumbai to give them the skill sets that the business needed. A shortage of skilled resource wasn’t a deterrent and the business moved swiftly to invest in an internal training program that delivered results. This wasn’t a traditional administration job but since we needed to be aligned with what the business wanted, we thought of a solution and executed it to perfection.
Can you tell us about how your department is structured?
I report to the HR Head and the CEO, so it is a dual reporting structure. My team consists of corporate resources to look after functions like Communication, SAP, Ticketing/Travel, Accommodation, Facilities in addition to Zonal Administration Heads for the Distribution Centers spread across Mumbai and Delhi. I have a liaison / Team member at Reliance Metro, the company’s EPC vertical as well as one at the company’s Management Training Facility in Mumbai.
With multiple businesses and a large team, we meet once a month for reviews and updates.
Major Ramakrishnan with his Team
What typical challenges you face in your job?
I think the nature of our jobs is such that every day presents a fresh challenge. However, more the challenge; more is the motivation to get up every day and face them head on.
I have faced unique challenges at every step. If I share my experience at Vendanta, the biggest challenge was the sheer diversity of my job role. At one end, I was entrusted with project and construction management for their Mumbai office. There were specific instructions by Mr. Anil Agrawal himself who wanted a world-class office infrastructure for their expat employees to operate out of. At the same time, I was tasked with overseeing their aviation operations. Vedanta had their own fleet of aircraft that was required to ferry the management and top employees across the globe. I did not have any background in aviation but quickly learned the full gamut of operations to deliver what was expected.
Similarly, as I joined Reliance Infrastructure; there were challenges in dealing with the legacy workforces (Reliance Energy) that was well represented by their unions.
I think the key in facing every challenge is to display fairness in all your dealings, superior interpersonal skills, high level of competence and ability to go that extra mile in terms of your efforts.
Considering your enormous experience, what advice would you like to give to young talent joining this industry?
My biggest advice would be to believe in what you do, and that you genuinely are making a contribution to the business and to people around you.
The professional world is an unforgiving place, so one needs to have very high competence in their chosen field, have high interpersonal skills, great temperament and finally have razor sharp focus on delivery.
You also need to have the systems and processes to ensure that no subjectivity can puncture the end result.
The dynamic nature of our jobs ensures that most importantly we learn about living life to the fullest. You cannot control circumstances but you can work on being prepared to face challenges.
Can you talk about your personal philosophies that has helped you reach where you have?We may not be visible to the outside world but everything we do helps create the first impression about our companies. So right from the telephone operator who answers calls to the reception to the security to the housekeeping staff, they are who create an image about the company.
I make it a point to communicate with them and in all possible ways try to motivate them. Considering the economic hardships they face, we try to be the support that they need; whether in emergencies, financial help for their families or encourage them for higher education; it has been my personal endeavor to create a human touch. And that probably explains why we have the least attrition at such levels.
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