Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: HAL braces for top management changes

Saturday, March 5, 2011

HAL braces for top management changes


By Anantha Krishnan M. | Aerospace Daily & Defense Report |
Aviation Week | March 4 | Bangalore | India |
Indian aerospace powerhouse Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) is bracing for top management changes, as many senior officials prepare for retirement. With multiple programs set to push the company’s order book beyond the $22.22 billion mark this year, insiders are wary of what these changes could mean to the company’s fortunes. Their fear is that no firm succession plan might hurt the company.
This will be the first time in its 70-year journey that HAL will see so many top-level personnel changes in a span of six months.The turnaround comes at a time when the state-owned HAL faces unprecedented challenges from private companies — both Indian and foreign — in many domains where they had enjoyed a monopoly. These firms also are luring skilled engineers away from HAL with lucrative offers.
The most pivotal post that will fall vacant is that of the company’s chairman. Ashok Nayak will step down from the position in October, throwing the race for his successor wide open. Sources say that the Indian air force might finally push a candidate for the post.
But first in line is human resources director R. Srinivasan, whose term ends in May. Srinivasan has spent barely five months in this position following a minor reshuffle done by the Indian defense ministry in October 2010. He was HAL’s first helicopter-complex head until that time.
Next to go will be N.C. Agarwal, HAL’s director of design and development, in June. Once a top post, the position was diluted after the formation of the helicopter complex in 2009.Nonetheless, the Aircraft Design and Research Center (ARDC) — a star division of HAL — still comes under Agarwal’s command. ARDC is a crucial unit working on the design and development of fixed-wing aircraft, including the Tejas fighter and Sitara trainer. The fifth-generation fighter aircraft being co-developed with Russia also falls under Agarwal’s purview.
D. Balasunder, managing director for HAL’s Bengaluru complex, will retire in September. HAL divisions including aircraft, overhaul, foundry and forge, engines, aerospace, airport services and limited series productions of Tejas and Sitara fall under this key post. Balasunder has suffered health problems in the past few months.
Meanwhile, the post of director of corporate planning and marketing has not had a full-time occupant in some time. P. Soundara Rajan is now dual-hatted in this position, while also serving as helicopter-complex chief. Insiders now credit Rajan for turning around the fortunes of HAL's star product Dhruv, with its Mk-III versions finally rolling out to customers.
In a related development, sources confirm that there's big time trouble brewing in the Finance Department with the top man heading it, coming under scanner of India's Ministry of Defense (MoD). And if sources are to be believed, the final word is already out from MoD, making it a jinxed post.
Interesting times ahead in HAL. The big question: Can HAL take all these changes at one go? Well, that's the developing story to watch ahead!
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