Solutions for a Better World

Shefali Saxena, Louis Berger’s COO for Asia
Shefali Saxena, Louis Berger’s COO for Asia, in conversation with Maria R, discusses the challenges faced by women in the male-dominated construction industry, the company’s India operations, current order book, expansion plans and growth strategy.

How has been your journey of over 20 years in business and financial management, and what fascinated you in the construction industry, which has traditionally been male-dominated segment?

From the beginning of my career, I have had hands-on and challenging experiences in different facets of business and financial management. Operating in various functions, different companies and different cities, has made my work exhilarating and has given me the opportunity to learn and grow professionally. I have seen business evolve over time. I started my career at a time when there were not as many women in the corporate world. However, today, it is heartening to see more women in the corporate world as well as in leadership roles. That said, I believe we still have miles to go.

It is rewarding to see how our work contributes to the country’s infrastructure development and how it impacts people’s everyday lives. It gives me a sense of fulfillment as our company finds Solutions for a better world.

What are the challenges woman face in the engineering and construction industry, and what should be done to encourage more women into this sector?

The participation of women in the construction industry has been minimal, both in the onsite unskilled workforce and in managerial and leadership positions. Some of the major hardships faced by onsite women workforce are gender discrimination and inequality. Women in managerial positions are normally reluctant to work at locations far from their family.

Diversity is key to a company’s success. Companies with a greater diverse workforce perform better. Women bring a different perspective to projects and have a positive impact on them. Companies appreciate women’s contribution, but are not doing enough to bridge the gender gap.

In order to encourage more women to join the engineering and construction industry, companies need to actively recruit women and create programs that allow them to have a voice within the company. As for women in the leadership roles, they should mentor other women to inspire and encourage them to be confident in their capabilities.

If companies are serious about diversity and hiring talented women, then they need to take real, actionable steps. Louis Berger has taken that step through programs like Louis Berger Inclusion and Women at Louis Berger. The inclusion program empowers all employees to succeed and contribute to business success by building an open, inclusive and equitable culture. Our company is proactively taking steps to bring in more women in both technical and management roles.

How has your experience been working with Louis Berger?

I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with a company like Louis Berger that encourages strong gender equality, diversity and women empowerment. Louis Berger ramped up its efforts in 2013 when it established Women at Louis Berger, an employee-led initiative that provides guidance and support for women at Louis Berger. This grassroots committee brings together women and men to improve employee engagement to support women’s empowerment and greater diversity. The committee organizes various summits every year providing a great opportunity for women to network across the globe.
"In order to encourage more women to join the engineering and construction industry, companies need to actively recruit women and create programs that allow them to have a voice within the company."

What is your company’s current agenda?

The current infrastructure scenario in India is encouraging and upbeat. The central government has put a lot of emphasis on the infrastructure sector. We are also strengthening our commitment to the country’s development goals and actively seeking new opportunities to contribute to India’s strategic growth. Our company has all the necessary credentials and qualifications needed to bid on, win and execute various projects.

Additionally, Louis Berger intends to exceed client expectations through our execution of projects to the highest quality and professional standards. We plan to continue to increase our portfolio in the metro rail, highway, aviation and Smart Cities sectors.

What has been the tipping point for Louis Berger in India?

Louis Berger Bridge
“Our team worked tirelessly to generate new business and to execute & deliver the projects, infusing innovative ideas and technologies. We worked hard to finds Solutions for a Better World. As a result, we have had a phenomenal increase in the order book across various sectors of the industry.”
Louis Berger is participating in the country’s infrastructure growth story and is investing in its people. Over the years, we have increased our team of experts and built our design capabilities. We are also spearheading major system overhauls and policy implementations. Our team has worked tirelessly to generate the new business and then to execute and deliver the projects, infusing new ideas and technologies. As a result, we have had a phenomenal increase in the order book across various sectors of the industry. We are also fortunate to have the support of our clients across the country.

Besides our focus on business growth, the external business environment has also helped. The Central government is pushing for more infrastructure projects across sectors. We’re happy to take part in the infrastructure industry growth and participate in nation building.

Which important industrial sectors are being served by the company and its areas of expertise? Please tell us about a challenging project executed by Louis Berger in India.

Louis Berger, established in the United States in 1953, is a top-ranked global engineering and professional services corporation operating in six continents. In India, the company has been working with clients to solve their most complex infrastructure and development challenges for more than 20 years. With approximately 650 employees in the country, Louis Berger has a broad range of expertise across a wide range of sectors, including bridges and tunnels, highways and roads, rail and transit, aviation and Smart Cities.

The company has been supporting infrastructure development of several of the largest transit system expansion and Smart Cities in India. One of the most challenging projects was the Chenani-Nashri Tunnel – India’s longest road tunnel. Louis Berger, in a joint venture with LRP Consultants, was selected by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) in 2004, to prepare a feasibility study, a detailed project report (DPR) and engineering designs for four-laning the Udhampur to Banihal section of NH 1A, now part of NH 44. The 9-km Chenani-Nashri tunnel replaced the 41-km mountain road.

What about your current order book and the important projects in hand?

Over the last year, our company has won several key projects in India. We are working on projects across a wide range of sectors, including bridges and tunnels, highways and roads, metros, aviation and Smart Cities across the country. Some of the key infrastructure projects that we are working on, or have recently won, are Versova-Bandra Sea Link, Mumbai Metro Line 4, Bhopal-Indore Metro and Mumbai-Pune Expressway Augmentation.

Where do you see more stability in the order book: civil engineering, project management or construction services?

Louis Berger’s core services include feasibility studies, concept designs, detail designs, tender documents for construction, project management, construction management and operations and maintenance management. We are seeing an increase in the order book across all aspects, especially design and project management and construction management services.

NBM&CW March 2018

AJAX: Resilient & Resourceful

Debasis Bhattacharya, Head – Marketing, Sales & Product Support at AJAX Engineering, discusses what is making AJAX even more resilient and adaptive, as it finds ways to remain competitively strong despite the current slowdown Read More ...

Vermeer India: In the Forefront of Trenchless Technology

T. Ramesh, Country Head, Vermeer India, speaks on the widening scope of trenchless technology and solutions offered by Veermer for India’s infra development sector. Trenchless solution is used in constructing infrastructure Read More ...

INNOMAC: On a Roll

In 2019, Bangalore-based INNOMAC Engineering Industries launched a range of construction equipment such as Bar Cutting Machines, Bar Bending Machines, Suspended platforms, Hydraulic Home lifts and Building Maintenance Systems Read More ...

Louis Berger Tunnelling Through Challenges

Kshitish Nadgauda, Senior VP & MD – Asia, Louis Berger, shares information on the challenges encountered during tunnelling in the mountainous terrains of J&K and in the busy streets of Mumbai. Louis Berger has completed Read More ...

Wacker Neuson: Zero emission is the future

The Wacker Neuson Group continues to make targeted investments in research and development to expand its portfolio and position as a leader in technology in its core markets. The Group is actively working on new technologies Read More ...

Volvo Trucks: Adapting to Evolving Markets

Volvo Trucks International is enhancing its hauling capabilities, creating digitized interface in its products, and meeting the new emission regulations. Roger Alm, Executive Vice President, Volvo Group & President, Volvo Trucks Read More ...

Epiroc: Strong in India

Jerry Andersson, Managing Director, Epiroc Mining India, shares the reasons behind the company’s sustained growth in India over 60 years. Epiroc has completed 60 years in India, during which time, our machines have helped Read More ...

Ashitech to launch higher capacity asphalt batch mix plants

In a bid to target big contractors working on long stretches of the National and State highway and road projects, Gujarat-based asphalt batch mix plant manufacturer Ashitech will be launching 180-200 tph asphalt batch mix plants Read More ...

KYB Conmat - Developing tech-rich competitive products

Japanese Concrete Equipment manufacturing conglomerate, KYB Conmat has launched a new range of compact batching plants of 30-45-60 cum/hr capacities; wheel loaders of 1.2 cum and 1.6 cum; a new range of tower batch Read More ...

Tata Hitachi to scale up business with more products

Based on an evaluation of customer requirements, Tata Hitachi is introducing new, more sturdy machines; It has re-entered the backhoe loader market with its Shinraj model and plants to increase its product portfolio going forward Read More ...

PMP offers complete package of solutions to OEMs

PMP industries will continue to provide higher levels of equipments performance optimization through its integrated solutions for India and global markets. The company is offering a range of solutions for varied verticals of construction Read More ...

CASE India enters new product segment; launches its well tested 20-ton Made in India Excavator

The CNH Group is doubling its investments in India and consolidating its market presence by offering a value proposition to its customers. Neil Woodfin, VP AMEA and CE Global Alliances, CNHI International SA, and Raunak Varma Read More ...

Customer Satisfaction is at the heart of Mahindra

Vinod Sahay, CEO, Mahindra Truck and Bus Division and Mahindra Construction Equipment Division, shares the company’s plans for FY2020 keeping in view the current macro-economic factors. What growth prospects do you foresee in Read More ...

Manitou: Total Solutions Provider

From widening and upgrading its products to comprehensive aftermarket sales and support, Manitou South Asia is geared up to achieve sustained growth over the new year, says Hafeez Khan, Managing Director, Manitou South Asia. Read More ...

Liebherr places superior product offerings and services over pricing

Despite pricing being under pressure, Liebherr India will abstain from compromising on quality and safety of the product just to match the price offered by competitors. The company’s products will continue to be offered on the same Read More ...

Next Gen Compressors and Light Towers from Atlas Copco

Tony Van Herbruggen, General Manager, and S. Kumar, Business Line Manager, Atlas Copco Power Technique, Portable Air Division, share information on the company’s new technologically advanced products Read More ...
NBM&CW

New Building Material & Construction World

New Building Material & Construction World
MGS Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture

Modern Green Structures & Architecture
L&ST

Lifting & Specialized Transport

Lifting & Specialized Transport
II&TW

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week

Indian Infrastructure & Tenders Week