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Ola appoints former Mphasis executive as COO and head of fleet business

Ola appoints former Mphasis executive as COO and head of fleet business
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Ride-hailing app Ola has appointed former Mphasis executive Puneet Bhirani as the chief executive of its cab leasing arm Ola Fleet Technologies (OFT) and the chief operating officer of the company.

Bhirani, in his dual role, will head all aspects of the OFT business besides leading business excellence for the group and the supply and sourcing operations for India, a person close to the development told TechCircle.

Bhirani has over 20 years of experience in business leadership roles across profit and loss management, operations, sales and human resources.

He will be replacing former Ola Fleet CEO Shalabh Seth and interim COO Pallav Singh, both of whom have moved on from the company. Seth resigned from the firm in December 2017 and Singh quit last month.

Sandeep Divakaran who has since been heading OFT is moving to an upcoming new initiative at the company, the aforementioned person said.

The development was first reported by business daily The Financial Express. A spokesperson from Ola confirmed Bhirani’s appointment.

Bhirani joins Ola after a 16-year stint with IT services firm Mphasis where he was the CEO of its subsidiary Digital Risk since 2016. At Mphasis, he led different teams including resource management and global business operations. He had also been the chief of people and administration officer at Mphasis. He has worked with Planetasia and ABB (ASEA Brown Boveri) in the past.

The announcement comes on the heels of Ola raising Rs 112 crore ($15.6 million) from a clutch of new foreign investors as part of its ongoing Series J funding round.

According to its latest filings with the Registrar of Companies, Ola raised this amount from Raymond S Cahnman, chairman of trading firm the TransMarket Group; New York-based philanthropists Tina and Steven Price; J3T Ventures; and investment firm Lyon Assets.

As per TechCircle estimates, the current tranche values the cab aggregator at an estimated $5.6 billion (Rs 40,375 crore at current exchange rates).

Ola has witnessed a string of high-level exits in recent times. In November last year, online media publication ET Prime had reported that the firm’s chief people officer Susheel Balakrishnan had quit after working for a period of six months.

In September last year, Saikiran Krishnamurthy, senior vice-president of growth, and Joy Bandekar, corporate president of new initiatives, left the firm.

Other senior executives who quit the company in recent times include Rajiv Bansal, chief financial officer; Raghuvesh Sarup, marketing chief; and Deep Singh, senior director of operations.

For the financial year through 31 March 2018, Ola reported a 57% increase in operating revenue and halved its losses even as gross expenses remained almost stagnant.

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