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Infrastructuretoday published interview of Direct,SCMHRD-Pratima Sheorey

"Talent pool needed to manage projects"

HR shortage is a major reason for a crunch in infrastructure execution. Pratima Sheorey, Officiating Director, SCMHRD, in an interview, explains how management training is helping build skilled employee for future of India.

Infrastructuretoday: Infrastructure Management seems to be gaining traction as an academic programme as the need for project managers grows. What is the focus in this programme—is it introduction to the various domains within infrastructure, project management, an assortment of HR, Marketing and Finance focused on infrastructure industries, or other?

Director: Infrastructure Management helps to develop an insight on the process of nation building. It helps our students to understand the C2C principle in Infrastructure Management: Concept to Commission. Our efforts are directed towards creating an internationally acknowledged quality of education in the field of Infrastructure Planning and Development.

Along with the basic general management subjects, our students develop expertise in advanced contractual terms, regulatory principles, project finance, project management skills, and various other issues related to infrastructure development. There is special emphasis on the various sectors of infrastructure as laid down by various authorities. In addition, students have an option to specialize in either Project Execution Management or Project Finance Management. Project Execution Management includes insights into logistics, material handling, equipment, procurement and commissioning, site management, quality and safety management. On the other hand, Project Finance Management imparts knowledge about advance project feasibility, social cost benefit analysis, project cost engineering and financial structuring of a project.

Infrastructuretoday:  How is the demand from the infrastructure industries for specialized infrastructure MBAs? Which are the domains within infrastructure that have been absorbing graduates the most? How has the hiring trend performed over the years?

Director: The 12th Five Year Plan states that $1trillion investments is required in infrastructure in the coming five years, out of which 50 per cent is

required from private investors. Such large investments require an appropriate talent pool to manage projects (infrastructure or any other sector). Recent events have brought forth the need to ensure projects do not get delayed. With PPP becoming the need of the hour, now the business model has become more complex with many more players being involved for such asset creation. To meet these requirements, we need engineering professionals with appropriate management skills in the infrastructure space. PMI (India) estimated that India will need around 400,000 project management professionals per year for at least next 10 years. At SCMHRD, we have understood this need and are working to fill the void.

Road projects accounts for almost 53 per cent for the total projects carried on PPP in India. But now due to government initiatives in various sectors like APDRP, JNNURM, etc, and relaxation of FDI inflow, there is even huge demand for fresh graduates in various sectors like ports, power, irrigation, telecommunication, airports and urban infrastructure.

Since it’s just a two-year old course, to talk about trend and numbers at this stage will not be a fair thing to do. There is a long way to go
and industry acceptance will keep on increasing with time. As far as our first batch is concerned, they are placed well in core infrastructure domains not only in India, but also internationally.

Infrastructuretoday:  What is the career path of a typical MBA in infrastructure management?
Director: Initially, the students would work across sectors and enhance their knowledge with time. The roles would be like of project analyst, project site in-charge, etc. Later, based on their area of interest, they can work on a niche area and rise subsequently in an organisation. After attaining the requisite skills and knowledge, they can aspire to work as a consultant, or a senior management professional, or seek an international career, or be an entrepreneur.

Infrastructuretoday:  In many ways, fresh minds could also help correct the systems that are wrong in the learning curve in PPP. To what extent do you believe there should be an industry-academic association? That is, how much of a role does academic, not merely industry-driven, training play in a programme such as yours?
Director: As we see it, “academic talent” for such a programme is not easily available. The course was designed to ensure maximum “practical and industry-oriented” knowledge backed by solid theoretical base. So we deliberately provide faculty from Industry to engage students. For instance, our Mentors Dr Ajit Patwardhan and Prof Vivek Date have experience in both: academic as well as business. Our courses are not confined to a classroom.

We plan site visits where our students can see and experience the reality and relate it to the various concepts learnt. This is supplemented by guest lectures by senior industry professionals. Last but not the least; students are encouraged to attend conferences.This ensures proper mix of industry and academics.

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