Mr. Shaukat Ali Mir, a Mechanical Engineer by profession, is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Voltas Limited. Voltas is part of the renowned Tata Group, one of the largest business houses in India, which presently counts Jaguar-Land Rover, Corus Steel and Tetley Tea among its prized possessions. SAM, who has been with Voltas in the UAE for the past 23 years, has been instrumental in spearheading the company’s expansion in the GCC.
Q. Can you tell us about your journey, post-qualification?
A. I joined Voltas in 1982 as Project Engineer and within a year moved out to Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) where construction industry was at its peak. After a stint executing housing projects in Tabuk and Yanbu, I took up the business development responsibility for KSA until 1989 when I was asked to move to the Emirates and head Universal Voltas, a JV Company in the field of electro-mechanical projects and services.
In 1993 Voltas secured a major project in Abu Dhabi i.e. Central Emergency Hospital (Sheikh Khalifa Medical Centre), which I managed as the Chief Project Manager through till 1996. Thereafter, I took over the responsibility of business development in UAE and also secured and managed the Queen Mary-2 project, the then largest cruise vessel, in France through till 2001. After having secured numerous projects in 2001 and 2002, I took over the responsibility of Regional Manager of UAE. In 2004, I became the Regional Director of UAE and Bahrain, which was enhanced to whole of MENA in 2005. In 2008, I was promoted to Senior Vice President and Deputy Chief Operating Officer in International Operations and in January 2010 promoted as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Electro-mechanical Division, overseeing the Middle East and Far East as well as several JVs that are in operation across the GCC.
Q. A lot is spoken about the values propagated by the parent Tata Group. Will you elaborate?
A.Tata Group is one of the most respected organizations in India and overseas. The Group is committed to improving the quality of life of the communities it serves. This is done by striving for leadership and global competitiveness in the business sectors the Group operates in.
The practice of returning to society what the Group earns evokes trust among consumers, employees, shareholders and the community. The Group is committed to protecting this heritage of leadership with trust through the manner in which it conducts its business.
The core values of the Group are Integrity, Excellence, Understanding, Unity and Responsibility.
Q. How would you summarize Voltas’ vision and mission for the GCC in general and the UAE in particular?
A.Voltas has been seeking to retain its pre-eminent position as one of the top three electro-mechanical services provider in building, infrastructure and utilities across the GCC.
Voltas is one of the most sought after MEP companies across the GCC in general and UAE in particular. It has executed some of the finest and most prestigious iconic developments across the region including Burj Khalifa (tallest tower in the world), Emirates Palace (7-Star hospitality development), Mall of the Emirates (one of the largest in the world), District Cooling Plant at DIFC, Dubai and Bahrain City Centre and the on-going Sidra Medical Research Centre in Doha. These and many more are the most complex and iconic developments in the region.
Voltas has won the Middle East MEP Company of the year award successively in the last two years – 2010 and 2011.
Q. In your viewpoint, what are the factors which helped Voltas to weather the recent economic downturn?
A.Some of the key factors that are helping Voltas to weather the current difficult situation in the market are:
- Goodwill and high degree of customer relationship developed over the years resulting in repeat orders.
- Highly committed and devoted management and workforce that are the pillars of the success in the Middle East.
- Continuous support and direction given by the Board and the Corporate in enhancing its processes, customer satisfaction and the quality of its services.
Q.Without going into specifics, could you tell us something about your medium and long term vision for Voltas in the region?
A. The medium term vision for Voltas is to retain its leadership position in the current geographies it operates in, i.e. UAE, Qatar and Bahrain, and strengthen the newly created JVs in KSA and Oman.
In the long term, Voltas is looking at enhancing its offerings in the current geographies and selectively expand its operations to North African countries, CSI countries and Iraq.
Q.What do you believe are the biggest challenges that Voltas will have to face in the region over the coming few years?
A. Some of the bigger challenges Voltas will expect to face in the region over the coming few years are:
- Continuously improve operational efficiencies so as to be able to compete in the marketplace against the ever increasing number of competitors from all over the world.
- Meeting the customers’ increasing expectations on offered services involving assistance in design development, meet scope changes made by them within the original timeframe and continue to maintain the partnering relationship that Voltas is known for.
- Continuously work on enhancing management pipeline as also improve upon quality of design and project management services that the customers expect from Voltas.
- Improve upon and make the risk assessment process more robust in identifying, analyzing and mitigating the changing risks associated with the construction and infrastructure industry.