‘We Are In The Business Of Building The Future Of India’

Shailesh Pathak, the Chief Executive Officer of L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Ltd., is optimistic about India’s growth story

Q. Please tell us something about yourself. What have been the key highlights in your career? Any awards/achievements that you would want to share with us?

I have over 3 decades of experience shared evenly between the private sector and Government of India’s IAS (Indian Administrative Service). I started my career in 1986 with a 4-year investment banking stint at the ICICI and HSBC before joining the IAS. I rejoined the private sector in 2006, in IDFC. I returned to the ICICI group as Senior Director (Investments), ICICI Venture, investing private equity in infrastructure and joined Larsen & Toubro in 2017. 

I have a 360-degree experience in infrastructure finance and execution, having worked in private equity investing and fundraising, both national and global, project finance, project structuring, preparation and appraisal, and investment banking. My government roles included Secretary, Public Works Department; MD of the State Infrastructure Development Corporation and MD of the State Industrial Development Corporation. I have also raised large funds from multilateral and bilateral organizations like Asian Development Bank, World Bank, European Commission and the United Nations group. 

I was elected as President, Chevening Alumni (India) 2018-2020, and was a past President, Eisenhower Fellowships India. I completed my MBA from IIM Calcutta and B Com (Hons) from SRCC Delhi with an LLB and a Diploma in Business Finance. I have also attended a leadership program at Said Business School, the University of Oxford in 2011.

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Q. How digital savvy is your organization? What about you personally?

As an organization, we actively promote digitalization, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and Artificial Intelligence – Machine Learning. 

As part of the RPA, we have rapidly increased electronic toll collections (FASTag) in all our toll plazas. This quickens the journey through the toll plaza with no wait time and reduces cash transactions. Our FASTag collections have jumped from 17% in August 2017 to 32% in August 2018. We expect to achieve 90% by August 2020.

One of a kind Advanced GPS Connected software has been developed for the first time in India for our Transmission Line maintenance. It is a techno commercial platform where all the technical and commercial data are stored for future reference. It helps us in storing data regarding calendar work schedule, tripping reports, daily activities report, store material entry/issue, shutdown related work, availability report, tree cutting and revenue collection report and history.

We have leveraged on the digital technology for our end-to-end people matter needs like leave and attendance module, performance management system, learning and development, recruitment and HR Operations.

Q. How do you see Analytics and new technology – IoT, Block chain, Cognitive computing- shaping up the EPC sector in the context of future of work? Do we have enough talent pool in our country for us to become market leaders globally?

We have always been very good at adopting new technologies. Larsen & Toubro Group is a leader in digitalization, and as a Group Company, we’re playing our part.

Blockchain for our industry is in early days yet. Blockchain based smart contracts are being talked about.

As a project developer, we give out EPC Contracts to construction partners predominantly to our parent organization Larsen & Toubro. We have seen utilization of new technologies in the EPC Sector as well as in Asset Development companies extensively. As an example, production and productivity of Plant & Machinery (PM) is benchmarked across various sites using the data collected automatically on IoT devices.

Presently, we’re transiting from earlier in-house developed EIP to SAP for our end-to-end business operation solutions.

Q. Do you see India’s rise in EODB (Ease of doing business) index attracting higher FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) in the near-term?

According to the latest Doing Business Report (DBR) released by the World Bank, India has jumped to rank 77 from 100th in 2017, among 190 countries. Not just FDI, but DDI (Domestic Direct Investment) is encouraged by such improvements in various parameters. That said, contract enforcement remains an area of serious concern, and we look forward to positive developments on this parameter.

L&T IDPL has received investments from Canada’s largest pension fund, CPPIB. The InvIT promoted by us has marquee investors like Allianz of Germany, and OMERS of Canada.

Q. While hiring senior leaders in your organization, which competencies, other than domain expertise, do you assess?

Some of the qualities that we look out for are: 

  • An open mind, a positive attitude and good communication skills
  • A good value system & trustworthiness
  • Strategic and digital mind-set, strategic talent management, social intelligence and collaboration, organizational stewardship 

Q. How do you describe your corporate higher purpose and how do you help your employees share your vision for the company’s role in society?

Beyond profitability and turnover, and ensuring stakeholder satisfaction, the self-actualization of our team is a definite purpose. As an organizational mission, we are in the business of building the future of India by developing world-class infrastructure.

Q. What personal development goals have you set to keep yourself professionally relevant?

Health and fitness is the most important goal. I completed a high-altitude Himalayan trek in 2017. I also like to interact and learn from younger and smarter people. I’m an avid reader of management and behavioral science books which helps me in encouraging young minds around me to be positive and professionally relevant.

Exploring new technologies, experimenting with those technologies for use in the organization is always interesting.

Q. What keeps you awake at night?

  • Growth of business, new project opportunities
  • Ensuring world-class operations and maintenance of our infra assets
  • Professional and personal growth of our key team members
  • Evaluating risks to our business and mitigation strategies

About Shailesh Pathak

Shailesh Pathak is the Chief Executive Officer of L&T Infrastructure Development Projects Ltd. He has over 3 decades of experience shared evenly between the private sector and Government of India’s IAS (Indian Administrative Service). He started his career in 1986 with a 4 year investment banking stint at ICICI and HSBC before joining the IAS. He joined Larsen & Toubro in 2017. As part of the G20 nations’ business group, B20, he is a member of the Infrastructure Task Force B20 Argentina 2018, and was earlier part of B20 Germany 2017 and B20 China 2016. He is part of the BRICS Business Council’s Infrastructure Working Group. He is on national committees of India’s leading business chambers on Infrastructure, Capital Markets, Urban Development, and Integrity & Transparency. He has also authored many publications, and is a regular speaker at national and international events. Shailesh was elected as President, Chevening Alumni (India) 2018-2020, and was a past President, Eisenhower Fellowships India. He was hosted by European Commission under the European Union Visitors’ Program. He completed his MBA from IIM Calcutta and his B Com (Hons) from SRCC Delhi. He also has an LLB and a Diploma in Business Finance. He attended a leadership program at Said Business School, University of Oxford in 2011.

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