Issue 13

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Gurpreet Malhi

Chief Executive Officer, ALBA

Gurpreet Malhi is the Chief Executive Officer of ALBA. He reports directly to the Board and is responsible for the day to day running of ALBA and its subsidiaries/associates. Gurpreet is a Master Mariner and has completed his MBA from the prestigious HEC, Paris. He has over 20 years of experience in Shipping and Maritime activities. He has been with ALBA almost since inception.

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1. What was the mandate given to you by the Board when you took over in your role?

My brief was three fold; i)to consolidate the existing business, ii) to implement the awarded projects and iii) to bid and develop new projects and business, such that the company would be a leader amongst the bulk terminal operators in the country.

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2. How much of that has been achieved? What were the challenges faced?

When your top counterparty is the Government, the word ‘achievement’ takes on a whole new meaning.

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3. What are the key challenges your organization is facing currently?

In my experience and opinion, the level of Government control (interference, if I may say) in Ports surpasses all other sectors in the country.

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4. What are the key challenges for the sector?

To add to the above; a well defined regulatory framework across national, state and local governments is the need of the hour.

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5. What is your talent strategy? How do you draw the balance between home grown vs. lateral hiring at the leadership level?

It has been a very challenging and interesting experience for us. In 2010, when we just started out, expansion was rapid and we had to hire laterally. The port sector was at a nascent stage and it was a real challenge to find suitable talent, especially at the leadership level, from within the sector.

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6. How does your organization identify and develop future leaders?

Despite the size of our projects and capital outlay, we are a relatively flat and lean organisation. We understand the challenging environment we operate in and believe in being hands on.

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7. In a world full of volatility, Uncertainty, complexity & Ambiguity (VUCA) and also being closely involved with government, what is your strategy to manage various stakeholders to get the desired outcome?

It is indeed a complex environment that we operate in today. Stakeholders have varying interests, which at times are conflicting. We need to adopt a multi-pronged strategy to progress.

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8. How do you define & practice leadership?

For me, leadership is multi-faceted and 2 dimensional in the least. The first dimension focuses on the self and the second dimension focuses on those around me.

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9. How Indian leaders can become Global Leaders?

India is complex. I therefore believe that Indian leaders are amongst the best there are. But, this alone would not guarantee success as global leaders.

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10. What message would you like to share with young professionals at the start of their career?

Work hard, identify what’s important and focus on it, don’t be afraid of the uncharted, believe in yourself, keep calm and above all work-life balance is more important than you think it is.

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