Now, it’s people problems at Datacom, the Videocon group’s ambitious telecom venture. As if a dispute with its original founder and the absence of a foreign partner were not enough, the company is now beset with exits in the senior management, leaving it mired in troubles as it clutches a licence to provide telecom services nationwide.
Heads have rolled as the project is stalled while the group allegedly put pressure on key executives in a controversial manner that left them with little choice, people hit by the shake-up said, asking not to be identified.
The exit list reads like a who’s who of top management --- chief executive officer Ravi Sharma, chief information officer
Partho Banerjee, chief marketing officer Gurinder Sandhu, chief supply-chain officer D.P. Singh, legal head Srinivas Murthy, and senior vice-president (human resources and quality), Sunil M Massey.
One departmental head resigned when he was told verbally that he would be transferred to the Guwahati office of group company, the consumer goods firm Videocon Industries, and report to a junior officer.
“After working for a number of years in professionally managed companies, it was difficult to adjust to the culture of Datacom,” said another departmental head who quit within three months.
“The company had recruited in excess of its original requirements for the launch of operation,” said R.N. Dhoot, chairman and managing director, Datacom in an email. “Therefore, the exit of some of the seniors did not have much impact on the working of the company.”
A mid-level woman officer has been transferred to Videocon Industries’ Guwahati branch and asked to report to an officer there who would “appraise you of your new role, responsibility, remuneration and other terms and conditions”.
In a letter she wrote to the board of Datacom, she said, “I have been humiliated badly by the actions of management.” She said she was unfairly accused of passing on information to former colleagues, leading to an altercation which finally led to her transfer. She named four other managers as being similarly targeted and who resigned.
In a response to Hindustan Times’ query, Dhoot said, “The company offers attractive package for such mobilisation and the officers gave their consent for such deputation.”
When asked how the company will function without the top management, Dhoot said, “The process of recruiting the officers in the vacancies caused by their resignations have already started. However, there is no dearth of qualified and experienced senior persons available in the Videocon Group Companies and who have been assigned to perform their duties in telecom venture.”
It is not just an employees problem the company is facing. Datacom is yet to place equipment orders and is facing difficulties in finding a foreign partner amid a financial crunch in the markets, say industry sources. Dhoot did not comment on this issue.
According to statements made earlier this year by Dhoot family members, Datacom was supposed to launch services on August 15 this year; the date was later deferred to December. Now it stands further postponed to April 2009.