Abhishek DEVIDUTTA Samal: An Exceptional Leader

Abhishek Devidutta Samal | COO | Kalinga Commercial Corporation
Abhishek Devidutta Samal | COO | Kalinga Commercial Corporation

How frequently do we come across selfless leaders who provide a creative component to society with the potential for widespread opportunity growth? It’s incredible to observe how great leaders turn their ideas into reality. A wise leader has a strong desire to listen and interact, and it is their modesty and honesty that distinguishes them. Abhishek DEVIDUTTA Samal is leading by example with his sincerity.

Vice President of Projects and COOChrome Business at Kalinga Commercial Corporation Limited, Abhishek started his career at Tata Steel, Kalinga Nagar, in 2017 as an intern. After training in electronics and telecommunications, he bagged the ‘Best Intern of The Year’ Award at Tata Steel Ltd.

He joined Kalinga Commercial Corporation Limited in June 2017 as a key management person directly under the Chairman cum Managing Director with responsibility in both technical and non-technical areas to bring improvements in the company’s performance.

Abhishek believed that there can be a successful career, while he accepted that, “Every day is important in his life. Every day is a new day, and it gives different experiences. To be very honest, there has not been any biggest accomplishment,” says Abhishek.

And the only goal that Abhishek follows is to take his dreams and the company forward with promising growth.

Managing Assets

Kalinga Commercial Corporation Limited is a leading turn-key service provider to the mining sector. Kalinga entered mining during 2003-2004 in small mines adopting semi-mechanized operation, gaining proficiency in the development and operation of state-of-the-art fully mechanized open cast mines, presently operating eight large and important Iron Ore, Coal, and Chromite mines of Odisha belonging to OMC, SAIL, MCL and TSML.

Today, the company can excavate 27-30 million cubic meters and produce 18-20 million tons of finished saleable products.

The company engages 7000 employees, out of which 4100 are direct employees of KCCL, mostly working at different mining sites. Among this major workforce are engaged in operation and maintenance of various mining equipment (HEMM), facilities for crushing and conveying, and transport of finished goods and waste.

Despite constraints during the pandemic period of the last two years, achieving steady growth continued in the previous five years, Kalinga with confidence, plans to achieve a turnover of 1500.Cr rupees during the financial year 2021-22.

Taking Onus as a Vice President

Abhishek was awarded with the responsibility of Vice President (Projects) and COO in September 2020. It was a challenging job awarded by TSML to develop and make operational three chromite mines that were non-working and abandoned for over nine months in the Sukinda area.

One of these was 200 m deep where de-watering though continued and opening access roads to develop operating faces for immediate mining was exceedingly difficult. In the other mine, de-watering itself was the problem to open the mine. With combined efforts, Abhishek and his team started the production and achieved their target.

Another chromite mine of OMC being earlier worked was also taken as a composite area for operation under his leadership. 

A Transformative Leadership

There was also a need for improvement in technological and operational areas for an innovative approach, cost reduction, timely availability of spares of HEMM, etc. Improvement in the HR area, particularly training and skill development, commitment, and team effort, were felt necessary for higher productivity and growth prospects.

To improve HR Management, Abhishek implemented the following strategies:

  • Before starting operation, National Anthem was played in an assembly in the operating mine sites attended by both executives and non-executives.
  • Workers also participated in various welfare and CSR activities of the company conducted in the mines for the benefit of the local communities.
  • Blood Donation Camp in coordination with a red cross
  • Eye Check-up and Health Camp
  • Distribution of Blankets
  • Rations (grocery) and medicines to local inhabitants during the pandemic
  • Plantation of saplings and sports activities

To bring all the categories of employees of the company together, cricket matches were organized among different mine sites. This helped employees to mix and understand each other to develop a feeling like a family. Picnics, functions, and get-togethers under employee engagement activities are also a part of this process. The company arranged tournaments as a part of employee engagement activities by participating in inter-site tournament 2018-19 and awarded Runners up medal and prize.

This helped Abhishek know about other mining sites and various company activities. A basic organizational structure was developed with the introduction of co-curricular activities to improve coordination between employees on different sites.

With the above steps being initiated and structural changes in the organization under progress, considering contribution and performances, in this chromite project, the greatest challenge was to handle the labour unions of the previous and local issues demanding recruitment.

This was a complex problem involving socio, political, and local issues that required a sincere approach, proper communication, and management. Abhishek and his team settled these issues and ensured the operations of the mines were continuing smoothly.

Development activities could be achieved as planned with the co-operation of colleagues and staff. But this challenge for the reopening of chromite mines was a challenging task that could be taken care of with much efforts with an amicable settlement of disputes.

Surpassing the Challenges

During the pandemic, the company has done many changes in the technical as well as in its nontechnical fields. Kalinga adopted a biometric fingerprint and RFID card-based time attendance system, compulsory for both executive and non-executive employees.

On the mining sites, the workers regularly screened the temperature and oxygen level of the employees after coming and before leaving the workplace—installation of sanitiser machines and ensured sanitization of workplaces, machines, and vehicles on a regular basis.

Besides this, the company built its own isolation wards and quarantine centres in each site, and in cases of emergency, the company enabled the provision of oxygen cylinders, oxygen concentrators, and ambulance facilities.

An Expert’s Advice

Abhishek would like to advice to the budding aspirants, “Always work with self-confidence and a drive to succeed; achieve exemplary results and gracefully accept the challenges.”

Advancements Driven by Technology

With regards to technological developments and operational efficiency, the following activities have been taken:

The company introduced Green Energy, Solar Systems for the lighting of haul roads and camps besides heating arrangement for supply of warm water to the camp. The company generates one megawatt of energy synchronized with the grid system.

The company uses mostly imported equipment for better availability and assured productivity. Availability of spare parts was a major constraint even though there was a contract for maintenance services.

Low-cost procurement was brought successfully to manage this, indigenization, and alternative sources. This enabled improvements in resource management, efficiency in availability and utilization of equipment, quick identification of problems, and immediate action.

Exhibiting Excellence

OMC awarded Kalinga Commercial Corporation Limited for 100% achievement on production. With quality, commitment, honesty, and integrity, the company has become the ‘Fastest Growing Industry’ and achieved ‘The Fastest Growing Indian Excellence Award’ by International Achievers Summit.

The Future Roadmap

Digital transformation is currently changing the shape of business in various sectors. The mining industry cannot remain isolated. The geological database is now used for mine planning and progressive assessment of mining activities undertaken. It also helps in the assessment of stockpiles, dumps, production, etc.

The company is seriously working on improving MIS, ERP systems, data entry, data management, etc., for better efficiency in the management of maintenance, operation, and material management with faster response time.

The company’s vision is to be a global player in the mining industry by 2030, and Abhishek wants to grow with the company, and someday, he wants to be recognized as one of the best influential leaders of the country.