United colours of Airtel: board members reflect global push | india | Hindustan Times
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United colours of Airtel: board members reflect global push

Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel is acquiring a multinational character in its senior management as nearly half of the Airtel Management Board has been recruited through global hunts and its members are from outside India, though some of them are of Indian origin. Manoj Gairola reports. Diversity at the top

india Updated: Jul 28, 2010 22:07 IST
Manoj Gairola

Having expanded its footprint to Africa and parts of Asia and Europe, Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel is acquiring a multinational character in its senior management as well. Nearly half of the Airtel Management Board (AMB) has been recruited through global hunts and its members are from outside India, though some of them are of Indian origin.

AMB is responsible for operating Bharti Airtel’s services in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Five of Bharti Airtel's 11 AMB members are from outside India. Alexander Andrew Kelton, president (enterprise services), was hired from Telstra Corp (Australia). Joachim Horm, executive director (technology and network) came from T Mobile, Germany. Shamini Ramalingam, director (internal assurance) was in Telstra, Melbourne. Srikanth Balachandra, executive director (finance) came from Unilever, London. And Krish Shankar, director (human resources) was at Unilever, Singapore.

“For talent hunts we cease to confine ourselves to India or Asia,” said Bharti Airtel CEO Sanjay Kapoor told Hindustan Times. “As we are progressing, we are becoming a talent hub. We want right people for the right job. Geographies do not matter.”

Bharti, India’s largest telecom firm and eighth in terms of market value, turned truly multinational when it entered 15 African nations with the acquisition of Zain Telecom earlier this year.

Within India, the company is looking for people from other sectors. For instance, Sriram Jagannathann, business head (m-commerce) and Jayant Sood, chief services officer (telemedia) have come from the banking industry. Saleem Mobani, business head (m-entertainment) was with the media and entertainment industry.

This employee diversification is necessary, as Bharti Airtel is transforming itself from a telecom operator to a "lifestyle enabler" as a company, Kapoor said. This means Airtel will play an important role in whatever is important for customer — health services, education, banking... The idea is to bring down costs and empower the customer.