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We are going to see GIM foraying into new fields and reinventing itself.

Dr. Anand Teltumbde

Faculty, GIM 

When his term as the MD and CEO of Petronet India Ltd. drew to a close, Dr. Anand Teltumbde knew that was going to be it. He politely refused companies across the globe that wanted him next, and with characteristic focus, chalked out a schedule dividing time between his two major passions - painting and writing. Had it not been for a call from one of his Professors at IIM Ahmedabad - who had recently taken over the reins of IIT-Kharagpur’s business school VGSOM - the Indian academic would have been a luminary short. One may alternately argue that the world would have been richer by a prominent painter; but that shall be conveniently ignored for the moment. What would be relevant is that during his glittering 35-year corporate career, Dr. Teltumbde had been accumulating degrees for joy - a D. Litt and a PhD included - and, for 25 of those years, had been teaching for kicks.

“The degrees are incidental,” he quips, almost impatiently. “These weren't acquired with any career goal in mind; least of all with a professorial intent. My academic pursuits were out of the conviction that an interface with academics will enrich my practice. I did my PhD out of an interest in the then very much talked about field of cybernetics. I got very curious about its prowess and wanted to study it in depth. As far as teaching goes, after I graduated from IIMA, I would often be called by my professors to take a session or two in MDP and later in PGP. I suppose the word got around, and I soon found myself as a Visiting Professor to management institutes in Mumbai - where I was stationed - and as an Adjunct Professor in Mumbai University in Economics and Sociology.”

The D Litt., of course, is an honorary degree conferred on Dr. Teltumbde by Karnataka State University for his contributions as a public intellectual in various fields. What’s really cool is that he has an entire Wikipedia page dedicated to his exploits as Executive Director, Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. and Managing Director and CEO, Petronet India Ltd, as well as his stints in the Oil sector of Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and China. It also speaks of his regular contributions to popular magazines like Outlook India, Tehelka, Mainstream, Seminar, Frontier, etc. Infact, he writes a regular monthly column - ‘Margin Speak’ - for the prestigious journal Economic & Political Weekly.

Particularly interesting is the story of how he turned around Nigeria’s biggest oil company after it was privatized. The company was in the red for six years when he took over - many of its assets in doldrums, most of its skilled workforce having left, its market image rock-bottom, its debtors forming a long queue. Ten months down the line, Dr. Teltumbde, supported by a team of Indian professionals drawn from various oil companies, reported to a stunned board, a “return into the green” at his first AGM; even declaring a token dividend!

“Instinctively I treated Nigeria as a minuscule India and mentally divided everything of it by 13, to marshal my Indian experience to the situation. It worked.”

But just like Achilles - despite his indisputably robust constitution - had a pierce-able heel; Dr. Teltumbde has something of the sort in his role as a member of the first study group for deregulation of the Oil Industry. The group, raised way back in 1994-95 by the central government, was the first to recommend suggestions on implementation of PSCs in the upstream sector that gave boost to the indigenous hydrocarbon production. It also mooted the creation of Petronet, envisaging one wing dealing with LNG and other with petroleum infrastructure. Dr. Teltumbde’s exceptional performance as a member of this prominent body won him personal accolades - and the Managing Director’s position, when Petronet was created. But, as a team player and a man of business, he remains far from satisfied about the entire deregulation business.

“It is not the only case; most government plans suffer in India in implementation,” he elaborates. “In the deregulation of the oil industry, there were many more structural hurdles by virtue of the sector being the biggest contributor to the national exchequer. The industry contributes almost Rs 2600 billion as profit, excise & custom duties, corporate tax, sales tax and dividend; equivalent to 15% of the GDP. The phased approach that the government adopted was prudent, but where the government faltered was in not abiding by the spirit of deregulation. Mostly, our deregulation remained ‘regulated deregulation.’ This has clearly shown up during the fall of international crude prices in recent years.”

However, now that that bulk diesel prices stand fully decontrolled, and oil shares are riding a boom, Dr. Teltumbde - with the instincts of a seasoned business leader - is quick to grasp the advantage for GIM.

“The ‘Make in India and the Potential for Job Creation’ report pegs the oil and gas sector as a creator of another 0.89 Million jobs, of which 19.85% are envisaged as those with a higher education. My experience tells me that about 10% will have to be management professionals, which means there is enough scope for GIM to target this booming sector. Given the dynamics, the next drivers of the Oil Industry will come with strong credentials in Supply Chain management and Analytics. That’s one thing common to almost every sector within India right now. So my main task in GIM is to establish a Business Analytics Center which would dynamically understand business needs and meet its growing demand of analytics professionals.”

Dr. Teltumbde is now at his animated best; talking of the high bandwidth of analytics-based consulting projects in Oil & Gas and how he intends creating a brand-name for GIM through its graduates. As he speaks of his students, the years roll back and you can almost see him back to his student days as the activist he once used to be. Starting out with student movements back in college, young Anand graduated to standing up for the workers from unorganised sectors, slum dwellers, and other socially marginalized people. Activism has almost been a parallel career with Dr. Teltumbde. With a thrust on civil rights, Dr. Teltumbde has been a member of Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR), and has participated in more than 100 fact-finding missions in the incidents of civil rights violations and communal crimes; even being the Editor of a Marathi working class monthly – Thinagi (The Spark) - and being on the editorial boards of Samaj Prabodhan Patrika, Vidrohi and other progressive magazines. In fact, way back in 1995, while still Executive Director at BPCL and a member of the Study Group for Deregulation, he had published a Marathi book where he critiqued the neoliberal globalisation in India from a viewpoint of the downtrodden. Ever since, his pen has produced numerous papers, pamphlets and articles on the subject, winning him prestigious awards and recognitions like the Vikas Ratna, Ambedkar Centenary Award (UK), Ram Manohar Lohia Centenary Award, Maharashtra Foundation (USA) Award for Social Work (2008) and Maharashtra Foundation (USA) Award (2010) for his book- Samrajyavadvirodh ani Jati Vinash.

“I like to see my students get to the root of a problem,” says Dr. Teltumbde. “Identification of the problem is the single most important learning for management people. Tools and techniques can be learnt, but where and for what are they to be used comes from problem definition. It should form a part of your acumen. Being alive to your environment sharpens your critical thinking; no matter whether it is socio-political environment or purely business environment.”

It was as much Dr. Teltumbde’s unique profile that first caught the attention of GIM, as did the terms and length of his experience. The voluminous writings to his credit are counted in B-School ranking, and should surely push GIMs rank and Brand value a couple of notches upward, as it did for VGSOM.

“That’s incidental,” waves Dr. Teltumbde dismissively. “I’m at GIM because I find it still young…. bubbling to reinvent itself. It has a coherent vision that I share. Management schools today stare at a far greater challenge. Delivering managers to business is no longer enough. The agenda is to shape a generation of managers… to imbibe in them a consciousness that their actions have a rippling effect on a society-in-flux in the rapidly changing world. The new paradigm of data-driven decision making that has deep roots in empiricism has multidimensional challenges. My major focus in GIM shall be to prepare our students to face them. The future managers will necessarily have to imbibe the dialectical approach of simultaneously dwelling into micro and macro aspects of every problem they encounter. It is going to be a huge challenge indeed, both for students as well as for faculty.”