With 22,124 people deployed across its 187 generation units, state-run NTPC Ltd is India’s largest power generation utility. Saptarshi Roy is the director in charge of human resources at the utility that helps meet 16% of India’s electricity demand. A 37-year veteran at the Maharatna, Roy is responsible for maintaining the credo of “People before PLF". PLF or plant load factor is a measure of average capacity utilization of a power plant. In an interview, Roy talks about what makes his personnel tick along with the opportunities and challenges that the utility with a man to megawatt ratio of 0.47 offers. Edited excerpts:
Why is NTPC a unique place to work at?
At the end of the day, any business is driven by people. You might have the best of the strategies, you might have the best of the systems, and all kind of things but ultimately it is the people behind all of it. Now, if you look at the kind of talent which we have, not right now at this moment but they have been curated over a period of time. So right from induction, we are very possessive and very finicky about the kind of talent that we hire. So, we need to have the best of the talent. After acquiring that talent, almost for one year we expose them and groom them. That training gets ingrained in us.
We not only take good care of our employees but also prepare them for the role that they need to do. So, that training is not a one-time activity. Learning happens continuously on the job and makes a significant portion of the career development. We also do planned interventions at various points of time. So, with every ladder an employee climbs in organizational hierarchy, she goes through planned intervention, the duration of which varies.
Given the nature of your business, why is it particularly important for NTPC to be a good workplace?
The nature of our business is not a one-time kind of activity. We are a long-term player. My investment today has to work for 30 years. And some of our plants even after completing 30 years are running at full steam. So, we are a long-term player and for long-term businesses, we can’t afford to have talent which has a short-term outlook. Therefore, it is essential for us not only to attract talent but also it is equally important to retain them within the organization.
How do you attract the brightest talent?
The largest chunk of people we recruit come from an engineering background. Essentially we recruit them through a common platform called GATE (Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering), originally created for engineering graduates who want to pursue their MTech.
We promise not only a job but also a career. We also started pitching ourselves as millennials are very smart and they also keep track of great companies to work for. Also, our compensation is much higher than the market benchmark at the entry level. The kind of learning opportunity that we offer, no other public sector unit can match us there. So, millennials look at such things.
What are the challenges you face?
Given that coal is found at remote places, one of the greatest challenges that we are facing is to get people to serve at such locations. The new millennial generation is attracted by the advantages that a particular location offers. Their profile is a bit different as compared to what we got in the past. So, there is a disconnect. It is a major challenge that how do we create that kind of a connect with them.