Ashok Juneja switched from the telecom industry to finance in 2010, joining Bessemer Ventures as an operating partner. Prior to this, he had been working in the telecom industry since 1991 and was associated with some of the biggest telecom companies in the country in their formative years, including Bharti Airtel and Hutchison Max Telecom (now Vodafone). His desire to explore new territories encouraged him to take early retirement from the board of Bharti Infratel and seek a consulting role in a private equity firm.
At Bessemer Ventures, he helped Applied Solar Technologies (AST), a Delhi-based solar energy service provider, in formulating strategy and was soon asked to join the solar start-up as a co-founder. He leveraged his vast experience and deep understanding of the telecom sector to develop energy solutions for the telecom tower industry. He also developed AST’s banking vertical from scratch, enabling the company to offer solar energy as a service to bank branches and for ATMs in rural areas.
“My role as a senior strategic adviser in AST involves advising the company on all aspects of information technology, business strategy, new business development in India and Africa, and development of new technologies. The key management processes required to handle operations of a large service company are also part of my advisory work,” he explains.
According to Juneja, “Solar energy has high growth potential. However, successful deployments are those where energy is delivered as a service to the consumer. The traditional capex-based models, where the end-consumer buys equipment, is generally far less successful than a build-own-operate model involving third-party companies. India must aggressively work towards developing the distributed solar energy sector and related energy storage technologies, as these will be less dependent on power purchase agreements with discoms, which have liquidity issues.” Juneja, who has handled various roles throughout his long career, is enjoying his current stint in the solar industry. He is of the view that the government can accelerate solar energy development by providing a favourable policy environment to the private sector.
Juneja has an engineering degree from the IIT, Kanpur, and a management degree from the IIM, Calcutta. He sees the ability to work closely with people and derive the best out of them to deliver on tough assignments as his biggest strength.