Ola appoints PepsiCo executive Vishal Kaul as COO

Vishal Kaul will head Ola’s operations and expand its reach to the nooks and corners of the country and widen the base of the firm’s customers and driver-partner fraternity


Ola has been strengthening its leadership team as it strives to expand its lead over Uber Technologies Inc. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Ola has been strengthening its leadership team as it strives to expand its lead over Uber Technologies Inc. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

Bengaluru: Ride-hailing service Ola on Monday named Vishal Kaul, a PepsiCo veteran, as its chief operating officer (COO) and elevated current COO Pranay Jivrajika as founding partner.

Kaul, who joined PepsiCo in 1999, has been vice-president (marketing), vice-president (business operations) and most recently, general manager (Thailand, Myanmar and Laos).

An alumnus of Punjab Engineering College and Symbiosis Centre for Management and HRD, Kaul will “head Ola’s operations, strengthen Ola’s market leadership, expand its reach to the nooks and corners of the country and widen the base of Ola’s customers and driver-partner fraternity,” ANI Technologies, which runs Ola, said in a press release.

“I am thrilled about Vishal joining Ola to lead our operations. Vishal’s energy is palpable and I have really enjoyed my interactions with him since we began interacting a few months ago. He is a passionate and experienced business leader with a demonstrated ability to drive business towards growth and profitability. His intuitive understanding of consumer businesses, ecosystem management experience and market understanding is invaluable,” founder and chief executive Bhavish Aggarwal said.

Jivrajika, also the company’s first employee, will work closely with Aggarwal to lead strategic initiatives. An alumnus of Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Jivrajika had earlier served as associate vice-president and later vice-president of operations before taking over as COO in February 2015.

“Pranay has been a partner with Ankit (Bhati, co-founder and chief technology officer) and me in every single brick that has been laid since inception, from one booking a day to over a million bookings a day now. Over the past six to eight months, Pranay has been working with me closely on many key strategic initiatives and I congratulate him on his new role as a founding partner. This organisational change will enable him to focus on these initiatives much more sharply,” said Aggarwal.

Ola has been strengthening its leadership team as it strives to expand its lead over Uber Technologies Inc. Earlier this month, it hired former SAB Miller India executive Shalabh Seth as the chief executive of its leasing subsidiary Ola Fleet Technologies Pvt. Ltd to help grow the supply of cars.

The company has, however, struggled with senior-level exits. Some of the senior executives who have quit include Sundeep Sahni, a former executive at e-commerce firm Lazada Indonesia who was hired as vice-president of new initiatives, and Abhimanyu Rawal, head of Ola’s luxury car business. Both Sahni and Rawal quit in December last year.

Earlier in 2015, Harsha Kumar, associate vice-president of products, and Rushil Goel, head of the payments business had quit.

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