With 28 years of experience in power transmission, distribution and generation, Dhananjay Ketkar is currently Chief Operating Officer at Egis India. An engineer and a post graduate in cost and management accounting, Ketkar started his career with NTPC in the power generation domain. He moved to Power Grid and subsequently to Alstom T&D where he stayed 13 years. Of these, he spent seven in France, Dubai and Singapore prior to joining Egis in December 2015.
What are the changes you have implemented at the group since you have taken over?
Egis is an international group with strong engineering expertise in airports, ports, specialised engineering, roads & highways, building and architecture, etc. The company is operating in India for over two decades, and majority of our turnover in India, is contributed by urban transport, roads & highways and the water sector. Building engineering, airports and specialised engineering are the sectors which are growing very fast.
In the last two years, we have started building skills and talent, to develop other sectors such as ports, airports, building engineering, specialised engineering, etc., in the country, so that the portfolio becomes balanced, and to capture a major share of the growing Indian infrastructure consulting market. Our efforts are showing results - we have won several projects in ports, building engineering and specialised engineering. We are happy to face the new challenges presented by these new opportunities, be closer to customers and serve them in the best possible way. I have launched several programmes to facilitate skill & knowledge development in these new domains. Several group processes and tools are also being deployed in India, to make Egis India at par with all other Egis International Centres, in terms of engineering deliveries and project management.
What have been the challenges and how did you overcome these?
The development of skills and knowledge in various sectors, along with project deliveries in these new sectors, is a big challenge. Very close coordination with our global experts is needed to really develop the engineering knowledge base, skill improvement of existing experts and at the same time development of new recruits, to have sustainable team dynamics.
It´s juggling too many things at the same time, but it´s highly satisfying when things show results.
Which are the important projects under your supervision?
As the COO, I am responsible for delivery of all projects, in each sector and domain, of Egis in India. I am personally involved in the delivery of the prestigious project we recently won for preliminary design and project management consulting of the (proposed) Chhatrapati Shivaji Statue in the Arabian Sea, off Nariman Point. This will be one of the tallest structures in the world with a statue size of 192 metres, which is almost three times that of the Statue of Liberty. This project is very challenging, with the dynamics associated with marine works.
Once this project is delivered, it would be the most important tourism centre in India.
What are the secrets of completing projects on time?
We have dedicated and motivated teams, which work in close coordination from concept planning to implementation of a project. Our process for engineering and project management, and contract management developed over several years by the Egis Group and dedicated manpower are the key reasons for our success.
What is the best part about your role?
We are operating in several sectors - that requires a broad knowledge base. A very quick learning curve is a must for understanding complex engineering and contractual issues. So every day is a new learning and each day offers an opportunity to develop a new perspective. This keeps me very active and motivated.
What are the pitfalls of the role?
This is a very challenging role, and is a big responsibility. People are looking up to you and expect fast and right decisions from you. So you need to be on your toes all the time. You have to put in time with the teams to stay updated on every detail and in fact, keep a tab on customer expectations, and ensure that a decision is the best decision, under that situation. Sometimes, it gets too hectic and stressful.
What has been the turning point in your life?
I spent almost 15 years with the public sector (NTPC and Power Grid) in India, from concept to realisation of projects in a high technology area. I got an opportunity to work with ALSTOM T&D SA France, based at Paris, for delivery of a very large international project in Africa. This was the turning point of my career. After that I got an opportunity to work in Dubai, Singapore and India with ALSTOM T&D, in sales, tendering, and leading the company´s network management business NTPC for over seven years. The second turning point in my career was a job with Egis, which has given me an opportunity to explore new sectors and contribute largely with my wide international experience on global project management and business development.
What is the single most important training that you impart to your team?
It is very important that teams work in an environment of mutual trust, transparency and openness, to develop themselves and deliver the best for the organisation. I insist that my teams be open, transparent, and innovative in their approach and quick in decision making.
How do you unwind?
I am grateful to life for all that it has given me.
And I feel it is my duty to give back to society. I believe that children are the foundation of our society, and if we really have to build the nation, we need to have excellent all-round education for our children. I spend lot of time during weekends to coach, mentor and teach underprivileged school children, on moral values, future career opportunities and developing their linguistic, analytical and mathematical skills. I dream that if I am able to shape the career of 30-40 children in the next 4-5 years, I will at least be able to contribute something to society, that has given me so much. In this process I also learn a lot.
If not the infrastructure domain, then where would have you been?
Travelling is something that I really enjoy and love. I now realise that I should have done the skill development for children on a much larger scale, which would have benefited society at large. If I look back, I think, I should have developed an organisation, which would have supported underprivileged children and provided them with highly ethical and practical education.