Ola puts electric plan in top gear, rejigs management to bolster project

Freshly-crowned unicorn Ola Electric Mobility has been on an overdrive to bolster its team to take its electric vehicle and solutions initiative forward. 

The company, according to sources, is diverting a part of its manpower from teams which mainly manage Foodpanda and Ola Play.

Some of the mid to senior level managers, executives, vice-presidents and engineers have been shifted to the Ola Electric team over the last few weeks. 

The drive has gained further momentum after it managed to again get back into SoftBank Group’s good books and got a massive $250 million cheque from the Masayoshi Son-led global conglomerate. Some of the people who have been recently moved to Ola Electric include Ankit Jain, who was vice-president and head of Ola Play. He has now been appointed co-founder of Ola Electric Mobility. The company, according to sources, is now completely focusing its manpower and resources on electric and the rest is, for the time being, taking a back seat. Ola did not respond to a detailed questionnaire sent on the issue.

“Over the last few weeks, some senior management teams have been asked to move to the Electric department. We have been told that the reshuffle would continue for some more time,” said a senior manager in the company who has now been shifted to Ola Electric. 

Sources said the company is on a tight deadline to roll out its electric initiatives. Internally, the company has given a three-year timeline to roll out the first set mass produced electric vehicles as well as related infrastructure in association with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).  According to sources in the know and going by the hiring plan for its Palo Alto-based ‘Advanced Technology Center’ in the US, the company intends to design and build electric mobility solutions as well as related accessories. The plan is to collaborate with the OEMs and new-age EV makers.

The cab aggregator is planning to give a headstart to its EV ambitions by hiring heads for its engineering and designing verticals, data scientists, and around 150 engineers for the US facility. 

The brief given by chief executive officer (CEO) Bhavish Aggarwal and co-founder Ankit Bhati is to mainly design and develop ‘practical’ EV solutions for the firm, which can be rolled out in the next two to three years. This is, however, not the first time that the company has gone for an internal reshuffle. In fact, it is possibly the third HR shuffle in the space of a year. The ride-hailing unicorn had transferred a huge group of people from Ola to Foodpanda when Aggarwal’s focus switched to the food tech company it acquired in 2017. 

However, after Ola changed its plans for Foodpanda, people were shifted back from the food delivery app to Ola. And during both shifts, there was significant attrition within the company. 

From the head of human resources department to top bosses in the legal division, the list of exits is long. The names include chief operating officer (COO) Vishal Kaul, who left after a year and a half with the firm, chief people officer Susheel Balakrishnan, who stepped down within three months of joining, and marketing director for Australia and New Zealand Natasha Daly. 

As many as nine senior leadership team members quit Ola in the last one year. Even Aggarwal’s chief of staff Akshay Alladi exited the firm in a little over a year. The company has also seen a series of exits of vice-presidents and product leaders, all in the last six months. In January, one of Aggarwal’s core group members Pallav Singh resigned as COO and quit from an active role in the company.

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel