Some believe that the leadership focus has somewhat shifted to Africa
News | by Gyana Ranjan Swain/Voice&Data
NEW DELHI, INDIA: Certainly, there seems something wrong at Bharti Airtel. Or, it could be possible that there are multiple things going against the company at this point in time.
But most importantly, a crisis of leadership is being felt at the top of the country's largest and world's fourth-largest integrated telecom player. The firm that was held as an example for its leadership qualities a couple of years ago is suddenly felt to be in the middle of a leadership crisis.
The dynamism of Sunil Mittal is being missed. The dynamism, man-management qualities and technical skills of Manoj Kohli are being missed in a big way. Market experts believe that the leadership focus has somewhat shifted to Africa, leaving its Indian operations vulnerable to losing market share.
Bharti has not been able to come to terms with restructuring even after one-and-a-half years. The confidence and the visibility of the top management are at the lowest.
It is evident from the recent exodus at the firm. Within a span of two months, five top executives, including the CEO for its India and South Asia operations, Sanjay Kapoor, have left Bharti. Last November, Amrita Gangotra, director-Information Technology, left the company to join a rival firm in its UK operations.
Quickly followed in December the exit of Shankar Halder, the telecom major's chief of Network Operations and an industry veteran. And, in January, two more executives - Vineet Taneja, CEO, South India and Sri Lanka, and Rajeev Rajagopal, CEO for Broadband and Data Business - have put in their papers. Not to forget the big ticket exit of Kapoor this month.
The movement at the top and that too, in a very short span of time, raises question about the leadership at the largest integrated telecom firm in the country.
There are rumors that the appointment of Gopal Vittal as CEO for its India operations might lead to a few more heads to roll at the senior level. With this shake-up at the top, industry watchers also say that a restructuring of senior executives as well as business units cannot be ruled out.
The first sign is the appointment of Vittal for Airtel's India operations alone, and not as in Kapoor's case South Asia as well. With this, there are two clear markets for Bharti Airtel now - domestic and international. India business will be looked after by Vittal, while South Asia chief would report to his international head.
However, the past restructuring at Bharti does not seem to bring the desired results for the Sunil Mittal-led company. Following a sharp drop in revenues, Bharti in August 2011 had announced restructuring of its Indian and South Asian operations to streamline its businesses and reduce costs. However, industry trackers feel the restructuring was not in line with the company's goal. Also, this restructuring has evoked mixed responses among the employees.