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Now, Air India scouting for CSO, posts ad on website

Air India has advertised for the post of a chief strategy officer (CSO), responsible for monitoring the progress of the turnaround strategy.

, ET Bureau|
Jan 15, 2011, 01.45 AM IST
NEW DELHI: Air India has advertised for the post of a chief strategy officer (CSO), responsible for monitoring the progress of the turnaround strategy, after it ran into controversy over the appointments of chief operating officer Gustav Baldauf and chief training officer Stephan Sukumar.

“We want to fill the post by mid-February. This appointment will complete the core team of five professionals who will assist the CMD in executing the turnaround plan,” said a senior Air India official, requesting anonymity. The advertisement for the last of its Rs 1-crore jobs was put on the airline’s website on January 14. Air India spokesperson confirmed the development.

The group of ministers on civill aviation had recommended the appointment of a team of five professionals to turnaround the loss-laden airline. Four of these appointments have been made between April and November 2010. These include COO Gustav Baldauf, chief training officer Stephan Sukumar and chief information officer Kamaljeet Rattan for Air India, in addition to a COO, Pawan Arora, for the airline’s low-cost arm Air India Express. Shortly after Arora and Sukumar were appointed in October, controversy broke out amid reports that both did not fulfil the minimum requirements for the posts. Independent directors on Air India’s board, expressed their dissatisfaction with the appointments and even asked the management to sack Arora in the airline’s November 18, 2010 board meeting. Meanwhile, it was recommended to review the appointment of CTO Stephan Sukumar. The official said that both Arora and Sukumar are most likely to continue in their roles.

“It has been a few months since they were appointed and they have been working for the company. The independent directors did not give a written mandate to sack any of them. Though their appointment could be taken up for discussion at AI’s upcoming board meet on January 19, but it doesn’t look like they will be asked to discontinue their services.”

The prospective for the CSO will have to be MBAs from a premier institute and should have experience in implementation of corporate level transformation plans and high level of experience in handling implementation of complicated IT projects, the advertisement says. Among other functions, the CSO will be required to analyse financial, operational and commercial performance of the Special Business Units (SBUs), which will be treated as independent profit centres. Air India’s MRO and engineering activity and groundhandling services will be hived-off into separate companies (SBUs) soon.

The shortlisted applicants will be interviewed later by a team of an outside expert, AI CMD Arvind Jadhav, the airline’s head of personnel department and possibly an official from the civil aviation ministry, the AI official said.

“We have received equity support, have posted profits in November and expect the trend to continue, integration of the employees is taking place and Special Business Units (SBUs) will be set up soon. The government support seems to be with us in this and so the management has moved to hire this professional,” the official said.

With accumulated losses of Rs 5,500 crore, the airline embarked on a four-year turnaround plan last year, which seems to be bearing results with the national carrier reporting improvements by making operational profit of Rs 21.66 crore in November 2010, for the first time in about four years.

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