It’s been an eventful 30 years for Ashwani Khillan, chief operating officer, ATC India, in the telecom industry as he has witnessed the sector evolve into one of the biggest and most vibrant in the country. The telecom industry has made rapid progress, keeping pace with the global trend. “The industry is setting global benchmarks and its technology uptake is keeping pace with international trends. This is why the Indian telecom industry is a great source of pride not just for the people associated with it but also for the millions who benefit from it on a daily basis,” he says. After graduating in electronics and communications engineering from the Regional Engineering College (now NIT), Kurukshetra, in 1989, he embarked on a postgraduate certification in business management from XLRI Jamshedpur in 2008. An erstwhile IAS aspirant, Khillan found himself on a different track altogether once he joined the telecom sector.
In the first seven years after graduating, Khillan was involved in telecom manufacturing and worked for companies like Punjab Communications Limited, HFCL and Fujitsu India Telecom Limited. In the following 16-odd years, he was associated with several mobile service operators, starting with Fascel (now Vodafone Gujarat), to Reliance Communications and Idea Cellular. Prior to his current assignment, he was chief technology officer for MTS India. He has also worked with global OEMs such as Ericsson and Huawei.
His core strengths include his ability to work hard and be passionate about his job. He strives to be a good team player and team leader as he is a firm believer in the view that it is only through excellent teamwork that you can overcome challenges. “Ours is a tough industry and this is why I go to work with a very positive attitude and always look for solutions. In our industry, we need to be speedy and yet take calculated decisions,” he says.
He likes to lead by example. Transparency is the key guiding principle in his management style and through transparency he is able to build a high degree of trust with his teams. Apart from cricket, Khillan likes to spend his spare time with his wife Rachna, his daughter Pariniti, a 12th-grader, and his son Mayank, who is in the tenth grade. They love going out together for movies, shopping and dining.
What are the expectations from the government and urban local bodies (ULBs)?
Today, sewage is the last thing on any ULB’s list of priorities and is often neglected as ULBs do not have a taxation system which will give them funds to implement such programmes. The government should follow integrated urban water management which should have both drinking water and sewage treatment components, with an effort to reuse the treated wastewater for sustainable water management. These projects should automatically include sewerage networks and reuse facilities. ULBs should set up such projects and take the onus of communicating the benefits and hardships faced during project implementation to citizens.
What are the future plans of the company?
Vishvaraj is currently undertaking 24×7 water supply projects in five towns in Karnataka. These are by way of management contracts where funding is being provided by the state government and we have been given the responsibility to replace pipelines, construct reservoirs and other infrastructure facilities and undertake O&M for five-seven years. The company has also recently secured a 24×7 water supply project in the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation. Besides, we shall be bidding for a couple of projects in Kolkata and Delhi.