Chairman of the Shell Group of Companies in India, Vikram Singh Mehta, has decided to step down after a 24-year stint with the global energy conglomerate.
Mehta will be in chair till October 31, 2012 and will be succeeded by Yasmine Hilton, the London-based, Mumbai-born lady executive who has been with the Shell Group since 1979.
Hilton would be the first woman to head an energy company in India.
“A PhD in genetics and having worked in a number of leadership roles across the Shell Group, Yasmine will be relocating to India in September this year,” said a statement from Shell on Wednesday.
Recalling his time with Shell, Mehta told Hindustan Times that he was the first employee of Shell in India.
Asked why he decided to quit the group, Mehta said, “I had the choice to continue doing the same things I have been doing for years or look at something different but meaningful.”
“I just made up my mind to take a break and do something in India.” However, Mehta made it clear that he will not work for any private Indian industry. “I have no big plans as of now but would definitely continue to work.”
Asked to describe his successor, Mehta said, “She will be an asset to Shell.”
A senior Shell executive told HT that it was Mehta’s own decision to move on.
“He himself decided to step down and may have some plans of pursue an independent career,” the official said, adding that Shell does not have a retirement plan policy and Mehta could have continued even after the age of 60 as well. Mehta turns 60 in October.
Educated in the prestigious Doon school, Vikram Mehta is a graduate from St Stephens College in Delhi, who later did his post graduation from the Oxford College.
Starting his career as an IAS officer in 1978, Mehta decided to resign in 1980 and joined Philips Petroleum in London as their senior economist. In 1984, he returned to India and joined the state-owned Oil India Limited (OIL) as an advisor.
Later in 1988, he resigned from Oil India and joined Shell International in London, beginning his 24 year long journey in the group. In 1991, he moved to Egypt as the managing director for Shell Markets and Chemicals, Egypt, and returned to India in 1994 as the chairman of the Shell Group in India.
While at the helm of Shell India, Vikram has significantly enabled growth across diverse Shell businesses in India and has set a strong platform for future expansion.
Despite instability in India’s fuel retail business, Shell is the only major international energy company with a licence to retail fuels (petrol and diesel). In addition, Shell also retails and markets aviation fuel as also specialty products like lubricants and bitumen.
It was under Vikram Mehta’s able leadership that Shell decided to set up a huge LNG regasification capacity at Hazira in India. This facility is one of the country’s two LNG regasification terminals and is in joint venture with Total of France. Shell also has a world class technology center in Bangalore.