Airtel technology head Jagbir Singh joins list of top-level exits, Abhay Savargaonkar to step in as CTO

Written by Jayati Ghose | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 18 2014, 22:54pm hrs
Joining a list of senior-level exits at Bharti Airtel in the last one year since Gopal Vittal took over as CEO, the company's chief technology officer (CTO) Jagbir Singh has resigned from his post, sources confirmed.

Abhay Savargaonkar, currently the chief of network operations, will take over as new CTO following Singh's exit, the sources added.

While Airtel neither confirmed nor denied the development, people in the know said Singh is likely to move to another telecom operator.

Last month, Airtel saw five senior executives, including its legal and regulatory head Jyoti Pawar, leaving the company. Apart from him, Sukesh Jain, chief marketing officer at Airtel's enterprise business; Rohit Gothi, head of Airtel Delhi; Vikas Singh, head of Tamil Nadu and Kerala hub, and Mohit Parasher, head of Airtel's retail outlets, put in their papers.

Analysts read these developments as a natural reaction to a new top management, with CEO Vittal completing one year in the organisation.

Airtel under Vittal is trying to push data revenues to offset the tapering growth in voice revenue measures which have yielded results in the past two quarters as the company reported its first quarterly rise in profits in four years in the October-December period.

The exits are also being attributed to organisational restructuring which include costcutting as well as reduction in capex spend.

Under a new top level management rejig, which came into force from the start of this month, Vittal will head the company's operations in India and South Asia.

Manoj Kohli has been elevated to the position of MD of Bharti Enterprises to lead the oversight of all non-telecom businesses of the group, including retail, insurance, food, realty and others.

As part of the restructuring, Akhil Gupta will be chairman of Bharti Infratel and vice chairman of Bharti Enterprises, while serving on other Bharti boards.

Jagbir Singh, an Airtel veteran with a stint of more than 10 years in the company, held the post of director, network services, and oversaw the networks and introduction of newer technology across Airtel's Indian and South Asian operations. He was also a member of the Airtel Management Board, the company's highest decision-making unit.

His successor Abhay has also been at Airtel for over 10 years and has held senior leadership roles covering the breadth of almost all network verticals, including leading 3G planning and deployment, quality and network planning and was the CTO of the mobile business when it was a standalone business.