Ever since the transition of Air India from the Government of India to the Tata Group, there were no managerial changes made to the airline over the 2.5 months the airline was run as a Tata enterprise. The hope was that a CEO would join in and initiate the changes. However, with the change of plans on that aspect, nothing moved, until now. Tata Chairman N Chandrasekaran took on the Chairman post.
The Tata Group has now announced leadership changes at the airline. Some of the trusted hands at the Tata Group are coming on board:
- Nipun Aggarwal: Chief Commercial Officer & Accountable Manager
- Tata Sons Senior Vice-President Nipun Aggarwal was already appointed to head the Air India management committee as per various news reports. He is now coming on board full-time as the CCO of the airline. However, I hope there is some method to the madness, as Nipun has been an investment banker all his life, including his 5 years at the Tata Sons, and he is now going to hold responsibilities to maximise revenue for the airline, including routes, loyalty, revenue management and so on.
- Suresh Dutt Tripathi: Chief Human Resources Officer
- Tata Steel HR veteran Suresh Dutt Tripathi has been appointed as the CHRO of Air India. He comes with expansive knowledge of the HR domain, including his current time at Tata Steel, and earlier on in the PSU space with Steel Authority of India Limited. He has been at it since 1983 and could just bring the effective mix of private and public sector knowledge that Air India needs at the moment.
- Dr Satya Ramaswamy: Chief Digital and Technology Officer
- Satya Ramaswamy is a longtime leader at the Tata Group software firm TCS, and ran various units for the company, including the Digital Enterprise initiative of TCS. His LinkedIn profile reads that he is now heading strategic initiatives at Tata Digital, the company which launched the Tata Neu super-app. He is based in the Bay Area, so it would be interesting to see if he relocates to Delhi, or will he run the Digital initiatives based in SFO itself.
- Rajesh Dogra: Head of Customer Experience & Ground Handling
- Rajesh Dogra comes in from TCS, where he was running the Passport Seva project on behalf of Tatas from 2008 onwards. In his new role, he would be responsible for designing the new Air India experience (if there will be one), right down to the pillows you should be getting in Business Class.
- Capt. RS Sandhu: re-appointed as Chief of Operations
- Capt. RS Sandhu was appointed as the Chief of Operations in July 2020 and has now been re-appointed to the post. His appointment at that time was for three years, or up to Air India’s privatisation, which is now completed.
- Vinod Hejmadi: re-appointed as Chief Financial Officer
- Vinod Hejmadi has been a lifer at Air India, working there for over 33 years in the finance function. He played an important role in the privatisation of the airline, making sure the financials were up to date and reflected the current position of the airline. All that changes is the designation, from Director of Finance to Chief Financial Officer.
The reshuffle has also meant that a couple of people have been moved from their positions. These are:
- Amrita Sharan is appointed as Advisor to CEO for HR
- Meenakshi Mallik is appointed as Advisor to CEO for Commercial, Technology and Other areas
Remember, Air India employees cannot be let go by the Tata Sons till at least one year after the takeover. Here is the official notification from Air India about the appointments.
While the question of who will be the CEO of the airline still to be answered, these are some positive moves at Air India. There is the obvious chicken and egg question though. Shouldn’t they have appointed the CEO first who would have then had been able to appoint a group he/she/they believed in? Time will tell.
Air India will see some Tata Sons deputies take key positions at the management level of the airline, which include the all-important CCO and CTO positions. Here is hoping they are able to make a positive difference to the perception and experience of Air India customers, as well as the bottomline of the airline
What do you think of the new appointments at Air India?
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We forsee tremendous changes and improvements shall be there in Air India in time to come.Tata is the name of Trust and people have much higher expectations.
Air India has an experienced crew who have stood the test of time despite bad merger decisions. Feel safe & homely with the senior crew compared to the junior lot who have an attitude. Definately a choice for fliers. Always my choice of airline.