Sandip Das: The Start-up Man

If rumors turn out to be true and Sandip Das joins Reliance Infotel to head its 4G service business, then the business magnet that Mukesh Ambani is, certainly has taken the right initiative.

The re-entry of the senior Ambani to the telecom business and that too into the most awaited service in telecom, has remained the most talked about event in the Indian telecom industry for last couple of years. Though multiple operators have permission to offer the 4G services in the country and certain operator has already launched in few circles, but it appears the BWA service offering has become synonymous with Reliance Infotel’s 4G launch, and it appears the entire country is waiting for this with lots of excitement.

When there are talks in the industry about the 4G launch, they tend to go nostalgic and compare it with Mukesh Ambani’s mobile services launch way back in 2001. Expectations are riding high each passing day but the senior Ambani is taking each step with utmost care and is cherry picking the resources, be it manpower or technology partners, with utmost scrutiny and care.

The latest one of Sandip Das is a classic case. Mukesh Ambani is gambling with $10 bn in the venture and he wants the best man to play the game for him. And the biodata of Das perfectly suits him. Sandip Das is a start-up man. In India, Das is known for making the erstwhile Hutchison Essar (presently Vodafone) what it is now. He was the first employee of Hutch and when he left the company was worth $10 bn, atleast that is value, Vodafone Plc paid to acquire the majority stake in the JV. When he left Hutch in end of 2006, he had already served that company for 13 years with last two years as the second in command to its MD Ashim Ghosh. And in that 13 years Sandip Das had played a big role, perhaps the biggest, to make Hutch Rs 10,565 crore company from scratch.

His next stint was at Aircel as its director, though he was posted in Malaysia as the CEO of Maxis Bhd. He served Aircel from Jan 2007 till date- a stint of more than 6 years and during this period he helped the company reach new heights- from 2.4 mn subscriber base at 2007 to 60.87 mn in 2013, and from a revenue of Rs 1,547 crore in FY 2007-08 to Rs 5,834 crore in FY 2011-12.

If looked closely, he piloted two companies when they were at a start-up stage, to reach big. And this could certainly be a big clue for Mukesh Ambani to pick him from Maxis. Besides, Das has experience in launching LTE services in Malaysia. With his past experience, his business acumen spanning more than three decade, the inclusion of Das in RIL Infotel board would certainly add more teeth to Mukesh Ambani’s big BWA plan.

Reliance Infotel challenge is a big one for Sandeep Das in his 33 year long career. If successful he will be transformed from a start-up man to a data-man as future is data and who can better do it than Reliance Industries.



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