During his 35-year career, Raghavendra Rao Turlapati has worked in diverse areas including oil well drilling, oil refining processes, environmental engineering, waste and water management, and energy. His knowledge spans process development, marketing and sales, operations, R&D and financial management. In the past, Rao has held senior management positions in the global operations of companies such as the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, Belgium-based Diamant Boart, US-based Smith International Inc. and US-based Halliburton Corporation.
Currently CEO of Sustainable Technologies and Environmental Projects Private Limited, Rao work is mainly related to technology development and innovation in areas like municipal solid waste (MSW) processing, conversion of waste plastics to petroleum fuels, wastewater treatment, bio-remediation of polluted soils and bio-methanation in biogas plants and MSW dumps. He is also an active member of the Bureau of Indian Standards’ working group on solid waste management.
Rao is disappointed that the responsibility of technology selection for waste to energy (WtE) is in the hands of entities like municipal bodies, which do not have much knowledge about such technologies, he feels. According to him, no new technological innovations have taken place, as the entire selection process is based on the experience of some foreign companies, despite their local operating conditions being very different from those in India.
His experience in India has shown that many agencies are hesitant to adopt new technologies unless they are backed by a global brand. Rao feels that there is a need to develop customised solutions through pilot projects and R&D efforts. He believes that technology and vendor selection based on tendering and pre-qualifying systems should be avoided if effective solutions are to be found. He suggests that a separate government body that includes experts should be set up to undertake such projects.
Rao most satisfying assignment was developing the polycrack technology for WtE conversion. As a specialist in petroleum engineering and environmental engineering, he recounts another memorable assignment as one where he developed technologies for environmental protection in the petroleum industry.
Rao ’s management style involves focusing on teamwork and giving employees freedom in work, so they can reach their full potential. On the personal front, he says he is a nature lover, enjoys travelling and is an avid reader. He hopes to write books on topics like innovation, technology adoption and environment.