It’s not often that people walk away from a management trainee opportunity in a company as prestigious as Tata Steel in Jamshedpur, but Dr Pawan Singh, who was all too aware that the company was one of the best in India, felt that the steel industry was not his ideal choice. He had joined the company after doing his MBA and liked the way the course plunged trainees into every aspect of the industry and how it combined classroom theory with hands-on experience. But after less than a year, he left to join Bharat Petroleum in Delhi. His three years with the company proved to be a formative experience. Many of his friends in Delhi used to talk about how they were going to sit for the civil services exam. He had no particular wish to join the services, but thought he would prepare for the Indian Railways exam anyway, more out of curiosity than desire. On passing, in 1986, he decided to join. With an MBA and a PhD in infrastructure finance, Singh worked in the highest loading divisions of Indian Railways, in South Eastern Railway and Western Railway.
Later on, he went on deputation to Powergrid from the railways ministry. He was general manager (finance) at Powergrid till 2005 and worked as director, finance, Delhi Power Holding Company, Delhi Transco and Indraprastha Power Generation Company Limited.
Singh loves the world of finance. It is his passion. In October, Singh was appointed managing director (MD) and CEO of PTC India Financial Services (PFS), the non-banking financing arm of PTC India. For the previous seven years, he had been director, finance and chief financial officer. He brings to the job 34 years of experience in finance. One of his current challenges is to deal with the issue of stressed assets. “We need to resolve these stressed assets. I have about Rs 17 billion worth of stressed assets on my books. In the last 20 days, we have been able to knock off Rs 5 billion. This quarter, or maybe next quarter, we will be able to knock off another Rs 5 billion. We are going at top speed,” he says.
Singh has ambitions for PFS. Big ambitions. “I want to take this company to big heights. Today, I have a Rs 140 billion asset base. In the next two and a half years, I want to make it a Rs 300 billion company. By the time my tenure ends in five years, I want it to be a double-of-that company.” As to life after PFS, he says he hasn’t given it any thought. “Sometimes it is best to take life as it comes. But at the core of everything is my spiritual practice. That is where I draw all my strength from,” he says.