Making friends and building contacts is probably the most important skill required to do well as a CEO – says Neeraj Sanghi, CEO of an IDFC’s company

Neeraj Sanghi, CEO, Highway Concessions (IDFC company)

Insights into CEO’s Roles and Responsibilities

  1. It is ok to go job hopping till you find the job meant for you.
  2. While it is not necessary that everyone reaches a high post as CEO but one should not be disheartened with that.
  3. It is very important to maintain a network of people and have contacts wherever you can as you never know when the networking might help you.
  4. It is not easy dealing with the government and it is actually quite frustrating.

Profile Details

Name – Neeraj Sanghi

Profession – CEO, Highway Concessions (IDFC company)

Age – 55

Gender – Male

City – Mumbai

Industry – Infrastructure

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/neeraj-sanghi-18795a7/

 

Where have you been born and raised?

I have been born and brought up in the capital city that is New Delhi. I have three other siblings – younger brother and 2 younger sisters. Growing up, life was not easy. The whole family used to stay in one single room because we were not very financially well off. This was a major life lesson which has kept me humble to date and molded me as a person that I am today.

What is your family background? Who all had the most influence on you and how?

My father was a school teacher in a government school and mother was a homemaker. My father undoubtedly had a lot of influence on me. He was the one who took an immense amount of pain to get us educated in the best possible institutes even when we had a financial crisis. He taught and showed us how to never give up despite life being tough to you. And as I said, my growing up years was not easy. The circumstances and the situations have given me the confidence that I can deal with whatever life has to offer.

Please give us a summary of your career.

I completed my B.E. in Electrical Engineering from (DCE) Delhi College of Engineering in 1984. From 1986–1988, I completed my MBA from FMS (Faculty of Management Studies) at University of Delhi.

In 2004, I joined Staffordshire University to do an MA in sustainable development. In 2014, I felt like doing a Ph.D. in environmental economics, so I joined IIT Bombay.

I was a Senior Engineer at BHEL from 1984–1989 and I took a sabbatical in 1986 to pursue MBA. From March 1989- December 1989, I was a consultant at Price Waterhouse Cooper.

In 1990, I was the Executive Assistant to President at Jubilant Life Sciences. In December 1990, I joined Pasupati Acrylon Limited and stayed there till 1993. From 1994- 1998, I was the Joint General Manager at Essar Group. 1998 -2001, I was the General Manager at TOTAL India.

I was the CEO of South Asia LPG Company Private Limited from 2001–2007. From 2007, I worked at Hazira Port Private Limited until 2010. I was made the Senior Vice President at Essar Communications India Limited from 2010- 2013. Then I was the CCO at Essar group till 2015. I was the founder director of SPIN consulting (2015–2016). Since then I am the CEO of Highway Concessions One Private Limited.

Which institutes are best for the education/training of this profession?

For an undergraduate engineering degree, one should not only look at IITs and NITs. Other institutes like BITS, VIT, Manipal are also something one can consider. For management, IIMs will always remain my top recommendation.

What are the costs associated with the education/training of this profession?

Undergraduate programs typically have tuition fees of around Rs. 2–3 lakhs a year, and another Rs. 2 lakhs for hostel/mess and other miscellaneous expenses. And the program is for four years. So about 18–20 lakh rupees for the entire 4-year duration. However, lots of scholarships are available to people who cannot afford this much. During graduate and research programs, one typically gets financial assistance which is enough to take care of all costs.

What are the typical entry-level jobs in this profession?

One should have an undergraduate and management degrees. When someone joins a company, they usually start by interning. The more someone works, the higher position they will get. Though, it is not necessary that everyone becomes a CEO or land in some high-position.

What is the range of remuneration one can expect when starting out in your line of career & industry?

5 years of experience – 20–25 lakhs INR per annum

10 years of experience – 30–35 lakhs INR per annum

15 years of experience – 45–50 lakhs INR per annum

20+ years of experience – 60+ lakhs INR per annum

You may also like to check out How To Become A CEO.

Please describe your work.

I work 9–10 hours on an average per day and about 5 days a week. It is very rare that I have to work overtime. In comparison with other people, who are in the same position as me, I have a relaxed work life.

On a normal day, I make deals with other companies and have a lot of paperwork to do. I have to attend a lot of meetings sometimes outside Mumbai. The other thing is to look and guide subordinates and see if what they are doing will produce the required output.

What are some of the positives, which would encourage someone to consider this career/job?

I get to make decisions for the company and for the people who work for me. This way I get to add value to people’s life. As a CEO, I mentor and develop people who come and intern with us. This way, I am helping them make a career and leads to an overall leadership and commercial development of not just other people but also for myself.

What are some of the challenges that you would want someone to be aware of when considering this career/job?

One of the major drawbacks is dealing with the government as you have to go through so many formalities and security checks because they would want to verify everything.

The other challenge is that there is not much time for vacations. Even though I tend to go abroad at times, it is not too often because I am tied up in India. Meetings and deals have to be conducted in India, so I don’t get much time left to take a vacation abroad or for that matter anywhere.

What are the relevant trends/skills/technologies that are currently commanding the premium in your job profile?

One should be aware of the traffic management system technology and the toll management system technology which helps us determine and improve the traffic situations on the highway. These technologies are commanding premium when it comes to a company like mine.

What kind of person would be happy in your career?

A person who has an analytical bent of mind and is fascinated with roads. The person should also have empathy because eventually, he has to deal with a lot of human beings.

What would be your advice to students or professionals who are just starting their journey on a path similar to yours?

I would tell young people to work hard. One important thing is to stay connected with people and build a network. At the end of the day, these networks are what will help you in life.

Contributing Writer – Surabhi Sanghi

You may also like to check out 7 Reasons You Need a Mentor for Entrepreneurial Success.