Infrastructure Management: A Solid Base For Successful Career

Dr. Chandan Chowdhury, Associate Dean, Executive Director of Punj Lloyd Institute of Infrastructure Management, Indian School of Business on why industry aspirants must study the subject to make the most of the opportunity the sector presents

Q: What are your insights about the Infrastructure and Construction insight industry in India? What is the scope of the industry in India and across the globe?

Ans: India’s infrastructure is nowhere close to where it should be, if we were to achieve a double digit economic growth in a sustainable manner. In recent years there is a huge emphasis on development of infrastructure and this emphasis has also given large push to construction industry in India. For example, investments of nearly INR 39 lakh crores are expected to be invested in the urban infrastructure itself in the next 20 years.It is estimated that by 2030, we will be surpassing the population of China. This generates a huge demand for the improvement of the infrastructure sector. Whether its roads and transport systems, energy, or utilities like water supply…etc.  a lot of work needs to be done to cater to the population growth and ensuing demand. In addition to this we expect significant investment in city infrastructure in next 10 to 15 years.

The construction industry is one of the major employers in the country. It’s on brink of revival after a downturn. With governments push towards affordable housing, REITs, InVITs, the sector is expected to grow at a rapid pace which has not been seen before.  If you see, there are number of large players who have entered into construction sector and have become much bigger players in the last decade or so. We expect employment opportunities in several areas like (1) development, (b) management, (c)upgradation and (d) revival of infrastructure.

Q:  What are the skill sets required to make a career in the industry?

Ans:  Infrastructure is a multidisciplinary field.  Professionals entering in the industry need to be equipped with the necessary skills and competencies relating to multiple disciplines. On the one hand, they do require some fundamental general management skills. On the other they also required exposure to core infrastructure related knowledge. The core ability could be related to strategic planning, project finance, economics and regulation, legal aspects, social and environmental issues, public policy, contract management, project management, etc. A bachelor in civil engineering, economics, spatial planning, architecture, or geography helps a lot in getting an entry-level position in the sector. However, to be productive such professionals should go through specialized intensive infrastructure program. For instance, at ISB (Indian School of Business), students with diverse backgrounds (engineering, arts, commerce etc.) with interest in the infrastructure sector, opt for specialized electives like infrastructure and the private sector with an objective to understand how the private sector can be involved in providing infrastructure through partnerships. We also run an Advanced Management Programme in Infrastructure Management for working professionals. Such programs not only increases employability but enhances ability to be productive in the infrastructure sector. 

Q:  Tell us about employment opportunities – where can they get jobs/ what are the job profiles, pay packages/ career progression. What remuneration can a fresher in the industry expect? Your advice to them?

Ans: There are many sub-sectors within infrastructure and construction industry. For example in the Infrastructure sector, one can undertake job in aviation, ports and shipping, power and energy, roads and transport and urban infrastructure sector, public policy, think tanks and management consulting.Graduates are employed by both public and private sectors. In public sector organizations like NHAI, NTPC, RITES, ONGC, SAIL, CIL, or various urban development authorities are some of the major recruiters.  In the private sector, one can choose to work for consulting firms like PwC, Deloitte, KPMG or to work for EPC contractors active in the industry. Remuneration in the field varies with the experience. Immediately after bachelors in engineering, one can expect somewhere between INR 5 lakh to 8 lakhs per annum. These figures could vary based on candidate’s educational background and the recruiting organization. 

Q: Why is there a necessity to have a programme on Infrastructure Management?

Ans: In the coming years, the industry needs good leaders who can understand the multidisciplinary challenges of the sector and drive the nation into the future. To fulfil that pipeline, mid-career professionals in the industry need to be equipped with the necessary skills and competencies relating to multiple disciplines for integrated understanding of aspects related to infrastructure development, management, as well as recovery of stranded assets. This requires a structured programme of learning which must go beyond theory and impact corporate practices and further competitiveness in an increasingly competitive infrastructure market. The advance Management Program for Infrastructure Management (AMPI) is designed to cater to this kind of need.

Q: Ongoing Construction/ Infrastructure is an inevitable part of our country’s progress. What about sustainable infrastructure? Is that a part of the programme too?

Ans: is extremely important for infrastructure provision. Take for example the case of sustainable mobility solutions and look at the emphasis on electric vehicles worldwide. Being an oil importing nation, electric vehicles are of immediate consequence to us. A sustainable urban transport system is connected to last mile, accessible and meets basic mobility needs of all users; is responsive to diverse demands, integrates different transport modes, and balances need for economic viability together with social equity, health and environmental quality. So, yes, sustainability is an integral part of the programme.

Q: What entrepreneurship opportunities does this course create? How does ISB support these? 

Ans: We primarily attract mid to senior managers, who are functional heads, or high level general managers. Our participants possess minimum 10-12 years of solid industry experience. In addition, the program also attracts already established entrepreneurs from the infrastructure sector. All of this creates a unique positive impact on entrepreneurial motivations of our students. We do see that a number of our students are experimenting with new ideas and discussing these in the class. At least three students in the previous batch have started different businesses in equipment finance, on-line construction market place, and in niche area-contracting space. This all is very exciting indeed!

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