A Catalyst for Change – Dr Rajib K. Mishra: Transforming the Indian Power Sector via PTC India Ltd

Dr Rajib K. Mishra
Dr Rajib K. Mishra

India’s power sector has undergone a revolutionary metamorphosis in recent decades, shedding its former skin and emerging as a vibrant, multifaceted entity. Gone are the days of unreliable supply and limited options. Today, the sector hums with activity, with renewable energy sources gaining traction, power trading streamlining efficiency, and infrastructure development expanding reach.

While numerous factors have contributed to this upsurge, the visionary leadership of Dr Rajib K. MishraChairman and Managing Director of PTC India Ltd, stands out as a cornerstone of this transformation. His journey in the energy domain spans decades, marked by an unwavering commitment to innovation, sustainability, and progress.

Under Dr Mishra’s stewardship, PTC India Ltd has grown into a pioneering force within the sector. PTC played a pivotal role in establishing India’s first licensed power trading platform, paving the way for a market-based system that brought transparency and efficiency to the power landscape. Furthermore, their unwavering support for renewable energy integration has been instrumental in India’s ambitious clean energy goals. From facilitating access to power markets for renewable generators to spearheading the Green Corridor project, PTC India Ltd has become a crucial conduit for clean energy adoption.

Dr Mishra’s strategic acumen and deep understanding of energy markets has positioned PTC India Ltd as a key player in the evolving Indian power sector. His forward-thinking approach is evident in their embrace of cutting-edge technologies and advanced data analytics to optimize market operations and manage risks. Moreover, his commitment to sustainable practices shines through their initiatives in embracing explicit ESG targets and optimizing resource utilization.

A Power Persona of the Decade

As a visionary leader in the industry, Dr Mishra takes us back to the beginning of his journey. Having accumulated over 38 years of experience working for NTPC, POWERGRID, and PTC in the power sector, he joined PTC India in 2011 as an executive director. He played a key role in developing the Retail & Open Access business, a market creation initiative. Dr Mishra also led the establishment of an ultra-modern Control Room for operations and led the team to launch the third power exchange in India, namely the Hindustan Power Exchange. On November 6, 2021, Dr Mishra was appointed the Chairman and Managing Director (Addl. Charge), and in March 2023, he was appointed the company’s full-time Chairman and Managing Director. Among other initiatives, Dr Mishra has led PTC to different business models, the most recent being that of a market maker taking positions in the power market. He is also spearheading the company’s transition for data analytics and has set up an Innovation and Analytics Lab with dedicated infrastructure and resources.

  • The Norwegian Government awarded Dr Rajib K. Mishra the NORAD Fellowship to study the “Impact of NORDPOOL on Transmission Planning” and
  • Won the prestigious “Power Trading & Power Markets Persona of the Decade” award at the 2018 Energy Awards and
  • An award for contributing to the largest trading volume at the 2018 IEX 10 Years of Excellence Awards.

He has also served as an Advisory Member of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission and is a member of the National Committee of the CII and FICCI. Dr Mishra is also a published author. He holds a PG Diploma from NTNU in Norway and an Electrical Engineering degree from NIT, Durgapur. A Norad Fellow, Dr Mishra obtained his doctorate from Aligarh Muslim University in 2006, and the University of Texas has granted him the status of a Visiting Scholar.

Reflecting, Dr Mishra says that as an electrical engineer, his first choice was to be associated with a leading organisation in India’s electricity sector, NTPC. “I firmly believed that this sector would continue to evolve and present me with challenges and growth opportunities,” says Dr Mishra, whose long and successful career has validated that premise.

Driving an Ever-Evolutionary Framework

Emerged as India’s leading transformational company in the energy sector, PTC is guided by a core framework of values that define its interactions with all external and internal stakeholders and guide its operating philosophy in an evolving business environment.

*Transparency: Transparency as a core value implies that PTC India Ltd strives to operate openly and honestly in its dealings. It involves transparency in its financial reporting, decision-making processes, and communication with stakeholders, including employees, customers, and partners. The company can build trust and credibility among its stakeholders by embracing transparency.

*The Customer is Always Right: PTC India Ltd strongly emphasises customer satisfaction and aims to prioritize their needs and preferences. By adopting this value, the company may strive to understand and fulfil customer expectations, provide excellent service, and be responsive to customer feedback and concerns.

*Encouraging Individual Initiative: This core value highlights PTC India Ltd’s support for employees taking ownership and being proactive in their roles. Encouraging individual initiative means empowering employees to generate new ideas, take calculated risks, and contribute to the company’s growth and innovation. This value fosters a culture of creativity, entrepreneurship, and personal development within the organization.

*Continuous Learning: PTC India Ltd values continuous learning to foster a culture of improvement and adaptability. This emphasizes the importance of employees acquiring new knowledge, skills, and competencies to stay relevant in a rapidly changing business environment. The company can encourage professional growth, enhance performance, and remain competitive by promoting a learning mindset.

*Teamwork: Teamwork emphasizes collaboration and cooperation among employees. PTC India Ltd recognizes the significance of leveraging diverse talents and expertise within the organization to achieve common goals. By valuing teamwork, the company can foster effective communication, build strong relationships, and promote a supportive work environment where individuals work together towards shared objectives.

A Market Maker’s Growth Strategy

The industrial landscape is continually evolving. Sharing his firm’s USPs and factors based on which they are positioned as one of the best transformational companies, Dr Mishra says that they have been in business for well over two decades now. “Our growth strategy hinges on our domain expertise and market responsiveness.” As a market maker and an aggregator, they pride themselves in being a storehouse of market information that translates into opportunities to cure spatial and temporal mismatches of electricity. “For us, the geographic limitations are not defined by the sovereign territory of India, but we also trade with neighbouring countries like Bhutan, Nepal and Bangladesh,” informs Dr Mishra. They are also responsive to market needs and create bespoke solutions like renewable energy aggregation, facilitating electricity swaps (banking), and even trading on behalf of the clients on the power exchanges. Their advisory/consulting business focuses on scale and increasingly complex assignments that leverage their competencies. Their approach is to build organically when they can, borrow or collaborate with globally competitive partners if they have gaps in their competencies, and adopt an inorganic strategy of outright buy if the first two strategies take an inordinate amount of implementation.

PTC is a unique stakeholder in the Indian power sector. Dr Mishra says, “We occupy a niche not based on huge assets or a large capital base but one based primarily on integrity, iterative learning, innovation, and customer orientation.” For more than two decades, PTC, with its domain expertise, market intelligence and proactive customer focus, has implemented innovative energy trading solutions, staying true to its vision of developing a vibrant power market and striving to correct market distortions.

Thus, PTC is a unique player in the electricity landscape and the only player that straddles every segment of the market and crafts bespoke solutions for suppliers and procurers. “Market Responsiveness and Innovation are our key differentiators,” insists Dr Mishra, whose visionary leadership style is often recognized as a driving force behind PTC’s achievements.

Transformational Leadership

In discussing his approach to leadership and team building within our organization, Dr Mishra says it is shaped by a wealth of experience. Over the years, he has honed his ability to manage teams effectively, ensuring they consistently deliver successful outcomes. His strategy centres on identifying the right individuals for specific tasks and then fostering an environment where they feel empowered and mentored without the constraints of micromanagement. Dr Mishra sets ambitious goals and delegates the execution to his team, allowing them the freedom to navigate the path to success without his interference in every detail. “Recognizing their efforts promptly is a key part of my approach,” he says.

Additionally, he always makes himself available for any exceptional issues or strategic decisions that need his attention. Dr Mishra adds, “In building strong teams, I believe in the power of cross-functional groups with diverse skills. I’ve found that tackling organizational challenges requires a comprehensive and integrated approach.”

In reflecting on how his company, PTC, integrates digitalization and technological advancements into its core functioning, Dr Mishra says, “It’s clear that technology is at the heart of our business, especially as a leader in the evolving Indian electricity market. We deal with markets that demand detailed, 15-minute interval data, and our role involves navigating market and price risks in forward markets and advising a diverse range of clients—both electricity generators and consumers—on optimizing their power sales and procurement strategies.”

This complex environment requires Dr Mishra and his team to manage extensive historical data and predict future trends, which they achieve through sophisticated tools like machine learning, regression analysis, and advanced data analytics, encompassing descriptive, diagnostic, predictive, and prescriptive analytics. At PTC, they’ve fully automated key processes in their control room, including bid management and power flow scheduling. Moreover, they’ve established a Data Innovation and Analytics Lab with dedicated infrastructure, tools, and resources to address these requirements comprehensively.

Their commitment to technology doesn’t stop there, says Dr Mishra. “Even our everyday workflows, such as invoice and document management, rely on advanced technology platforms and ERP solutions.” They’re continuously investing in these areas, ensuring that PTC remains at the forefront of technology-enabled markets of the future.

A Subtle Catalyst

PTC India Ltd has achieved remarkable success. Sharing initiatives that showcase their commitment to excellence and innovation, Dr Mishra says that PTC has been a pioneer with many ‘firsts’ to its name, which is the true test of a ‘market maker.’ Be it the first short-term trades from renewable generation projects, the first introduction to open access trades to many institutional customers like the Railways, AAI, etc., achievement of the first financial closure on the strength of a multi-buyer long-term PPA-PSA framework, co-promoting the first power exchange in the country, demonstration of first tolling projects, the first demonstration of O&M for a distribution utility, first cross-border transactions, first knowledge partnerships for capacity building with USAIDS, DFID, “We have many such ‘firsts’ to our credit.”

Continuing with the theme of market-building initiatives, one of the more recent examples is the launch of India’s third power exchangeHindustan Power Exchange (HPX), by PTC as a core promoter. Dr Mishra reveals, “As you may be aware, we were a promoter of the first power exchangeIndian Energy Exchange as well.”

The workforce is the cornerstone of every successful organization. In response to the pivotal role of their workforce in the organization, Dr Mishra firmly believes that each employee, regardless of their position in the hierarchy, is a vital contributor to their success. “At our company, we are deeply committed to fostering a culture where growth, skill development, and empowerment are not just words but actions we live by daily.”

He says they empower their employees by recognizing and valuing their unique competencies, ensuring their talents are utilized and nurtured irrespective of their organisational level. “This philosophy extends to how we structure our teams.” They create peer-to-peer, cross-functional groups that bring together diverse skills and perspectives. This approach enhances collaboration and innovation and ensures that every team member feels their contribution is essential and valued.

Dr Mishra furthers that public recognition of efforts is a key component of their culture. “We believe in celebrating our employees’ achievements, big and small.” This not only boosts morale but also motivates others to strive for excellence. Their recognition programs are designed to acknowledge outstanding work in a way that resonates with their team members and inspires the entire organization.

Training and development are at the core of our employee empowerment strategy. We invest in bespoke training programs tailored to the identified needs of our employees,” shares Dr Mishra. These programs are not static; they evolve to keep pace with market developments, including emerging technologies like AI. By providing their team with the latest knowledge and tools, PTC leadership ensures that their workforce is well-equipped to meet the challenges of the modern business landscape.

Our approach to nurturing a workforce is holistic and dynamic. We understand that our people are our greatest asset, and we are committed to creating an environment where every individual can thrive, grow, and contribute to our collective success.”

Delivering Bespoke Solution in the Indian Electricity Market

No successful journey is complete without challenges and adversities. Dr Mishra says that as a leader in India’s electricity market, focusing on electricity trading, they have been instrumental in shaping a dynamic power market, aligning with their vision and mission. Their achievements include several industry firsts –

  • Initiating electricity trades,
  • Pioneering cross-border transactions,
  • Engaging in long-term trades,
  • Establishing tolling arrangements and
  • Playing a key role in founding India’s first power exchange.

We’ve also been at the forefront of facilitating renewable energy trading.”

Their journey has involved navigating through a complex regulatory landscape where federal and state regulations govern electricity. Despite these challenges, they’ve successfully created and implemented new business models within this framework.

Dr Mishra informs, “A testament to our success is our financial track record in a sector known for its cash flow difficulties. We have accomplished the remarkable feat of selling over 100 billion dollars worth of electricity and more than 800 billion units of electricity without encountering a single default.” This achievement highlights their financial robustness and underscores their commitment to innovation and excellence in the electricity sector and the resilience and robustness of their business models and the team of professionals at PTC.

Winning Over the Crisis

Also, in the face of the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, which reshaped industries worldwide, PTC India Ltd demonstrated remarkable resilience and adaptability. Dr Mishra shares, “This once-in-a-century pandemic put every aspect of our business model to the test, particularly in maintaining sustained operations in a rapidly changing environment.”

During the pandemic, the electricity sector experienced a significant downturn due to a widespread industrial slowdown, leading to a reduced demand for electricity and a shift towards ultra-short-term markets. PTC’s response to these challenges was a testament to the flexibility and robustness of its business model. Dr Mishra says, “We successfully pivoted our strategies to align with the evolving market dynamics.” Remarkably, this period saw them achieving their highest traded volumes and profits, underlining their ability to thrive even in the most challenging circumstances.

To prepare for and navigate through a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) world, we lean heavily on several key strengths,” says Dr Mishra. “These include our agile business models, significant investments in data and technology, a commitment to continual innovation, a diversified portfolio, and effective risk management strategies, particularly regarding tail risks.” Their asset-light approach played a pivotal role in allowing them to respond both proactively and reactively to the emergent situations posed by the pandemic. This approach was reflected in the company’s performance during these trying times, demonstrating its preparedness for future uncertainties.

Seasoned Perspective

Businesses are a way for the Indian industry to pace its economic potential and capacity. According to Dr Mishra, startups play a crucial role in boosting India’s economic potential by driving innovation, creating jobs, and fostering competition. To the budding aspirants wishing to enter the dynamic fields of businesses, Dr Mishra says, “I commend your aspiration to be part of this exciting journey! Here’s my advice for budding Indian entrepreneurs like yourself:”

*Focus on a problem worth solving:

  • Identify a genuine gap in the market that hasn’t been addressed effectively. Don’t just chase trends; find a problem you’re passionate about solving, where your solution has a clear value proposition.
  • Consider the specific needs and context of the Indian market. What solutions are lacking, and how can your startup make a positive impact?

*Validate your idea before diving in:

  • Conduct thorough market research to understand your target audience, competition, and industry landscape.
  • Talk to potential customers, gather feedback, and iterate on your idea based on their needs.
  • Consider building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) to test your concept and gather real-world data before scaling up.

*Build a strong team:

  • Surround yourself with talented, passionate individuals who complement your skills and share your vision.
  • Look for diverse perspectives and experiences to create a well-rounded team capable of tackling challenges from different angles.
  • Remember, a good team is just as important as a good idea in building a successful startup.

*Embrace agility and resilience:

  • The startup journey is often full of twists and turns. Be prepared to adapt your strategy, learn from mistakes, and pivot as needed.
  • Be resilient in the face of challenges, and don’t give up easily. The most successful entrepreneurs are those who persevere through difficulties.

*Leverage the Indian startup ecosystem:

  • India offers a vibrant startup ecosystem with various resources and support systems available.
  • Connect with incubators, accelerators, investor networks, and other entrepreneurial communities for mentorship, funding, and networking opportunities.
  • Utilize government initiatives and programs designed to support promising startups.

Remember, the entrepreneurial journey is full of learning and growth. Stay passionate, stay focused, and keep learning from your experiences to build a successful startup contributing to India’s economic and social progress.’

Crafting Innovative Business Models for an Evolving Power Market

Looking ahead, sharing his vision, Dr Mishra says that the company has demarcated its growth plans into two broad categories: Legacy businesses consisting of electricity trading and consulting/advisory services on the one hand and future initiatives based on technology and solutions for the energy value chain including newer segments of energy storage, green hydrogen, electric vehicles, carbon markets on the other hand.

He adds that in the legacy business of electricity trading, they focus more on bilateral contracts and cross-border trades that offer optimum margins for a defined period. “We are also creating newer offerings for the renewable energy (RE) purchase and sale market and taking market and credit risks using our domain knowledge.” They are further planning to actively trade in green attributes and contribute to the development of the carbon market. They have increased the scale of their advisory/consulting business by adding on the consulting business of the ILFS-IEDC arm. “More importantly, we are executing complex advisory assignments like flexibility of generation, advisory for battery energy storage systems, distribution management, etc.” As a part of the future initiatives, they are looking to offer global technology solutions in the Indian energy value chain. Dr Mishra informs, “We have partnered with multiple knowledge-based and technology forms to offer technology-enabled solutions ranging from price and demand forecasting, predictive operations and maintenance, demand response, distribution management, etc. We can assure you that with each of them, we have concrete targets for where we want to be in three, five, and ten years regarding revenue and profitability. We are also identifying and implementing capacity-building initiatives as we go along on this journey.”

  • 70.6 billion unitsand the highest ever standalone profits of ₹369.74 Crores in FY23.
  • Our growth strategy hinges on our domain expertise and market responsiveness.”
  • PTC, being a storehouse of market information, creates opportunities to cure spatial and temporal electricity mismatches.

Vision Based on Sustainability and Governance

PTC India Ltd has adopted an ESG Vision 2030 and set clear targets under the three segments. “While we have always undertaken corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, we are now approaching the whole framework holistically, looking at environment, social and governance frameworks,” says Dr Mishra. One of the key initiatives they are working towards is to correct the gender bias at their workplace by hiring an increasing number of female employees to have an equal proportion of female employees. Additionally, they are focusing on longer-term infrastructure projects in patient care for hospitals and research projects to further consumer interests in the electricity markets under their CSR initiatives.

With all these revolutionary initiatives planned and a tremendous contribution to the Indian energy sector, today, Dr. Rajib K. Mishra emerges as not just a leader but a catalyst for change. His dedication to transforming the power sector through his work at PTC India Ltd has left an indelible mark on the nation’s energy landscape, paving the way for a brighter, more sustainable future.

PTC India Ltd’s Recent Accolades

  • PTC India Ltd has been honoured as the ‘Best Employer 2023-2024’ at the 18th Employer Branding Awards!
  • PTC India Ltd was adjudicated as ‘India’s Best Power Trading Enterprise’ at the 16th ENERTIA Awards 2023, recognizing excellence in sustainable energy, power, and renewables. (The prestigious accolade was presented by Falcon Media & Enertia Foundation at the IMC Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Mumbai, during the PRAKASHMAY ceremony).