The Times of India

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NEW DELHI: Oil industry traditionally has been a male bastion. Nishi Vasudeva is set to break that proverbial glass ceiling by becoming the first woman to head an oil company when she takes over the reins of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd.

Vasudeva is the marketing director of the company and will succeed Subir Roychoudhury, who retires on February 28. The Public Enterprises Selection Board chose Vasudeva from among seven candidates on Wednesday.

She will have global peers in Karen Agustiawan of Indonesian state firm Pertamina, Maria das Gracas Silva Foste of Brazil's Petrobras, Sumayya Athmani of Kenya's National Oil Corporation, Lyn Elsenhans of US firm Sunoco and Sara Ortwein of ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company of US.

A graduate of IIM-Calcutta, Vasudeva began her career with state engineering consultancy firm Engineers India Ltd. She has some 36 years of experience in the industry and will remain at the helm for three years before superannuating.

In 2007, she became the first woman to get on the board of an Indian oil company. Colleagues and subordinates describe Vasudeva as an open, accessible person who leads from the front.

Before becoming the marketing director, Vasudeva looked after the company's cooking gas sales and headed Bhagyanagar Gas Ltd, the joint venture with gas utility GAIL for providing CNG service in Andhra Pradesh. She has also done stints in other streams, ranging from corporate strategy and planning to information system.

Oil minister M Veerappa Moily has to vet her name after which it will be sent for statutory clearances from Chief Vigilance Commission and Central Bureau of Investigation. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet will then clear her appointment. The entire process is expected to take several months.

HPCL is the third largest refiner and fuel retailer in the country after IndianOil and Bharat Petroleum. Under Vasudeva's stewardship, HPCL has climbed to the second spot in the highly competitive lubricants retail market. The company is also in an expansion mode. It is building a new refinery in Rajasthan's Barmer district and ramping up its Vizag refinery capacity.