Meet the Regional Board: GMR Hyderabad
- 15 Oct 2020
In a new segment called ‘Meet the Board’, we are featuring and introducing you to the members of the ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Board. We will get to know them better by learning about their leadership style, their thoughts on the next generation of leaders and, unavoidably, the impact of the pandemic. Second in our series is Mr. SGK Kishore, Executive Director of GMR Hyderabad International Airport Limited, India and Second Vice President of the ACI Asia-Pacific Regional Board. After nearly two decades of service in India’s government, Mr Kishore took up a leadership role in 2007 with private sector infrastructure company GMR at the then under-construction Hyderabad Airport.
How did you start your career in aviation?
After nearly two decades of service in India’s government as an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, I moved to the private sector with GMR in 2007 to take up a leadership role at the then under-construction Hyderabad Airport project. This was my first tryst with the aviation sector and since then, I have had the privilege to continue to be associated with the industry.
Which leadership skills have served you most?
I believe that the most important skill a leader needs to have is people management since people are the true core of any organization. As a leader, the entire journey of identifying, nurturing and scaling up the human capital of my organization has been the most satisfying aspect of leadership for me.
What have you had to do differently in terms of leading your team during the pandemic?
The pandemic most certainly wasn’t business as usual and as a leader, I decided to adopt a ‘people-first’ approach to dealing with the situation. Given the uncertainties, anxieties and very real health risks that each and every member of our team was subjected to during this time. Keeping our people safe and well looked after was the first priority in every business and operational decision that we took at the time, even as we geared up to welcome our passengers and stakeholders back after a prolonged lockdown.
Another change was to quickly adapt the entire approach to managing the workforce and engaging with the teams with a large number of them suddenly becoming remote workers.
What is your advice to young people in the aviation business?
Do not let the current disruption in our industry frustrate you or disappoint you – this is a temporary setback, and our industry will return stronger than ever in the days to come. We are an important and indispensable enabler of the increasingly globalized, connected and mobile world, and the future is going to be brighter. Please keep working on improving your knowledge and skills to take on the new opportunities and challenges and you will succeed.
Apart from COVID-19, what are the most pressing issues facing your airport?
Sustaining the passenger experience and service quality in the face of rising traffic and ever increasing passenger expectations is an ongoing issue that always keeps us on our toes. As the recovery gains momentum and traffic returns, so will these challenges.
What are you most proud of at your airport?
My amazing team, that has stood up to every challenge and delivered, time after time.
Before the pandemic hit, for about five consecutive years Hyderabad Airport was one of the fastest-growing airports in its category, with the total traffic more than doubling in that period. This posed many challenges to the team since there was no way to suddenly expand the airport to meet the surging demand and instead, they came up with a variety of innovative solutions to help manage the traffic without impacting the service quality that our airport had become renowned for.
The situation turned on its head with the pandemic, but the team again rose to the occasion to manage the unprecedented disruption in the smoothest possible manner.
I think the pandemic is going to accelerate the trend towards increased technology adoption, especially more self-service features in all aspects of the passenger journey lifecycle.
Has there been a silver lining arising from this pandemic crisis and if so, what?
I think the pandemic is going to accelerate the trend towards increased technology adoption, especially more self-service features in all aspects of the passenger journey lifecycle. This would help usher in a new age of technology-infused passenger experience, boost efficiencies, reduce costs and perhaps even fundamentally change the physical aspects of airport design across key touchpoints such as check-in, bag drop, security etc in the years to come.
How do you maintain personal mental and physical wellness?
I maintain a strict daily regimen of physical exercise that helps me keep healthy and physically fit. Equally important is the need to maintain mental wellness and towards that, I diligently balance my daily routine to spend time with my family, personal friends and my hobbies, all of which allow me the mental space to relax and unwind.
If you had a magic wand, what would you want to change (besides the obvious resurgence of traffic at your airport)?
If there is a magic wand, I would like to see our Airport as the most preferred airport by all the Users/Service Partners and Stakeholders on a sustainable basis and as the most eco friendly and sustainable airport always being in the forefront of Technology and Business Excellence.