For someone who has seen it all and done it all, J.P. Chalasani, group CEO, Suzlon remains very enthusiastic about work and the power sector. He joined Suzlon in 2016, bringing to the organisation all the depth and range of his experience, project management skills and people management expertise. What keeps him excited is that the power sector is never without challenges. “Even after more than three decades, I still see lots of challenges and opportunities and that’s what keeps me going. When I joined the industry as an NTPC trainee, the power secretary told us that the industry faced three challenges: low PLFs, high T&D losses and discom ill-health. In different ways, we are still talking about them today,” he says.
The fact that he left the conventional power industry where he had worked all his life to take up renewable energy at Suzlon demonstrates that he is undaunted by challenges. The fit between Chalasani and Suzlon has worked. He talks with pride of how the company operates 17,000 MW across 18 countries.
At 60, Chalasani has enjoyed a good innings. When you ask him how he accounts for his success, he mentions, with generous praise, two men who influenced and moulded both his personality and his career: NTPC’s D.V. Kapur and R.V. Shahi. Chalasani was 38 when he took the plunge and left NTPC. Luckily, his wife, Rajani, supported him and, surprisingly, so did his parents, who felt that a calculated risk would bring rewards. He has never looked back. “Shahi, along with Kapur, is still my mentor today. Whenever I face a difficulty, I turn to one of them,” he says. The secret to good project management, he believes, is common sense: to understand why things are not happening, to create a culture of stocktaking so that everyone is aware of where things stand, and motivating people by creating an atmosphere that is not tense, but not too light either.
For relaxation, Chalasani turns to his family. He describes himself as an introverted person, who prefers to be at home than socialise. Rajani, their daughter Manasa and son Aditya form a tight unit.
When he looks back at his career, Chalasani sees accident, not destiny; chance, not design. He feels that things just happened to him without his planning anything. He stumbled into project management at NTPC where he spent 16 years, just because he thought it might be “good”. That led to perhaps the 10 best years of his life, building the Ramagundam plant, getting married and raising his children.