Ajit Shankar, director, Ardom Telecom, is focused on optimising the energy costs of telecom towers through renewable energy and storage solutions. A 1992 batch Indian Engineering Services officer, he has worked across different sectors, from the government to the private sector, and from multinational corporations to his own start-up.
Shankar began his career began with Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), which proved to be a great learning experience. He was part of the team that restored the communications infrastructure in Kutch district, Gujarat after the 2001 earthquake. Similarly, after the 2004 tsunami he was sent to the Andaman Islands to restore the damaged communication lines. Later, Shankar joined Tower Vision India as project/commercial director. He then moved to XCEL Telecom, which was later acquired by ATC India. Post the acquisition, he served as chief of operations/CBDO of ATC India. His last assignment before Ardom was as senior vice-president and head, marketing
strategy at Viom Networks.
Ardom is currently involved in installing solar panels at its clients’ towers. Under Shankar’s leadership, the company plans to embark on a pilot project in Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh, wherein it will use the same solar panels being installed at the towers to provide energy to nearby villages through a microgrid. “We will install solar panels in areas where grid power is available for less than 12 hours. So, in case the power goes in the evening when families want to watch TV and children need to do their homework, homes have electricity. Even if we can provide power for just four to five hours, it will improve the quality of their life,” he says.
Earlier, the company didn’t have the resources to do something as substantial as this for the local community. Instead, it used to participate in community festivals and sponsor cultural events. Now that it is well-established, it is doing its bit to provide sustainable energy for the villagers. It has also been providing them with LED bulbs. “People are prepared to pay Rs 1,400 a month for power on a prepaid basis. For us, it’s relatively easy. The caretaker, who would in any case be maintaining the telecom tower’s solar panels, can look after the extra ones as well,” he says.
Shankar studied at the Metarhat Public School in Bihar and is a gold medallist from IIM Calcutta. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D related to telecom engineering.