Ranbir Singh Butola is probably the most recognisable Indian face at the bidding rounds for oil & gas blocks abroad. As managing director of ONGC Videsh Ltd (OVL), the job requires him to focus entirely on overseas acquisitions — something that not only means travelling extensively, but also manoeuvring the diplomatic maze.
Butola is now headed for a different kind of challenge as chairman & managing director of IndianOil, the country's largest refiner. Though he is expected to take over in February 2011, when current incumbent B M Bansal retires, Butola probably won't get much time to settle down in his new assignment. He will have to immediately oversee the company's follow-on public issue, even as IndianOil’s revenue loss on account of having to sell fuel below market price stares him in the face.
Though Butola’s experience as head of the project appraisal, budgeting, and treasury sections of parent company ONGC came in handy when expanding the OVL portfolio to 40 projects in 15 countries, the 56-year-old alumnus of Delhi University’s Faculty of Management of Studies is fairly new to the oil sector. He joined ONGC only in 2001, prior to which he worked at a nationalised bank.
Highly regarded among his colleagues for clarity of thought, Butola is best described by a close associate as a “hybrid CEO” — pursuing the very private corporate business of overseas acquisitions while working within the parameters set by the government.