State-owned refiner Indian Oil Corp. Ltd (IOC), which operates 11 of India’s 23 refineries, is among the largest employers in the country with over 33,000 employees and serves consumers across the country with an elaborate ecosystem of dealers, distributors and transporters, making people at the core of its assets.

That makes ensuring their safety at refineries, upgrade of skill, motivation and rewarding a core function for the country’s largest refiner. The complexity of operations, including supply of fuel at remote areas and during natural calamities, operation of a complex network of road and pipeline transportation infrastructure, massive capacity expansion projects and diversification into new businesses in allied sectors which have a public policy dimension such as revamping sick fertilizer companies make management of workforce a key task for the oil giant.

Deployment of workforce at optimum efficiency becomes a key guiding principle in the refinery business which thrives on very low margins and massive volumes.

Chairman Sanjiv Singh, who took over the leadership of the company on 1 June 2017, highlighted the importance of having a positive work environment in his first message to shareholders, saying it was key to make IOC future-ready at a time energy sector’s future is facing disruptive trends.

“With a workforce encompassing varied age groups and expertise, IOC represents a perfect blend of youth and experience. This creates an environment highly conducive to innovative ideas, technologies, high-quality products and services, and safe and efficient operations while enhancing stakeholder value on a sustained basis," said Singh.

The company has laid out an eight-fold leadership competency framework, specifying the kind of competencies that the organisation values and which it seeks in its leaders and budding leaders. To groom leaders, IOC introduced the project “Saksham" in 2015 with the help of leading business schools in the country. The programme is constantly being revised to expand its scope. According to a company official, who asked not to be named, IOC believes in developing leaders from within. The idea is to offer a rewarding career to those joining the company, not merely employment.

IOC is taking the lead in India’s shift to a more environment friendly mix of fuels while ensuring energy security through affordable conventional fuels. In a recent interview, Singh said that IOC was making a strategic shift to a less carbon-intensive future by getting into clean energy and related infrastructure, while keeping refinery expansion plans flexible for course correction.

Most of the townships located at its refinery locations are self-sufficient with all amenities including medical facilities, schools and recreation centres as per information given by the company in its annual report for 2016-17. IOC seeks to ensure that takes meticulous care in taking affirmative action in empowering those with disabilities.

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