P M S Prasad has largely been a one-company-man, except for a brief stint at Schlumberger, the global technology and solutions provider for the oil and gas sector. And he has been part of Mukesh Ambani's A-team for the last 25 years.
That's quite an achievement considering the fact that he has neither any Ambani family links like Nikhil or Hetal Meswani, nor is he a classmate of his chairman, like Manoj Modi or Anand Jain.
The 55-year-old engineer, now president and CEO (petroleum), Reliance Industries, joined the company in 1984, when it was building a captive power plant at Patalganga, 70 kilometres north of Mumbai.
He was also responsible for bringing RIL's Hazira petrochemical complex on stream in the 1980s. The project was completed in record time and Prasad hasn't looked back since then.
He has held various positions in the fibre, petrochemical and petroleum business of RIL, and is responsible for putting RIL on the global energy map.
His crowning glory came on Thursday last week when RIL announced that it has begun natural gas production from its deep-sea Krishna Godavari basin fields, a feat that will help India save around $9 billion in petroleum imports a year.
People familiar with RIL's working say, apart from his obvious competence, one major reason for Prasad's success at RIL and his steady rise to the top has been his preference to remain in the background, avoiding the limelight and doing his job quietly.
He and his boss have formed a mutual admiration society. While Prasad says he admires Ambani for his ability to take risks, the chairman has praised Prasad's exceptional project-execution abilities.
There are many reasons for this effusive praise. While getting oil/gas from deep water fields like the KG basin one normally takes anywhere between eight and 10 years, RIL will complete this in just 5-6 years.
As a result, from being a nobody as far as oil production was concerned in 2002, RIL is now set to be among the top 20 integrated energy companies in the world.
Peak production of oil and gas from the Dhirubhai 6 field in the KG basin is expected to be 550,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day and, at this level, RIL will account for about 40 per cent of the country's energy production in the next 18 to 24 months, putting it on track to earn a quarter of its profits from oil and gas production, from 5 per cent now.
To be able to achieve so much in so little time obviously means that Prasad is a workaholic -- perhaps he is addicted to micro-managing affairs. That's inevitable when he has constantly been racing against time.
Now that one of his major tasks has been accomplished, maybe it's time for him to create a second-rung of visionary managers who can take the pressure off him.