Rohit Munjal, one of the longest-serving executives at cab aggregator Ola and its Chief Human Resources Officer has left the company, the latest in a series of top-level exits, even as it prepares to list on the public markets.
Balachandar N, who was Ola's acting CPO (Chief People Officer) for the last four months, will take over, Ola founder Bhavish Aggarwal said in an internal mail to employees. Moneycontrol has seen the email. While Balachandar, an industry veteran was brought in to lead HR at Ola Electric, he will now lead the people function for the entire group.
We’re amongst the largest mobility platforms in the world and continue to attract top global talent as we build a fast-paced and impact-focused org across our businesses including Mobility, EVs, Vehicle Commerce, Quick Commerce, and Financial Services. Bala and the HR team will be key to accelerating this so we can realise the opportunities that lie", Aggarwal said, adding that the group's headcount has gone up from 4,500 to 8,000 in the last five months across all businesses.
On Munjal's exit, he wrote, "As many of you know, Rohit Munjal, who has been part of Ola’s journey for several years went on a sabbatical earlier this year and has now decided to pursue other interests he feels passionate about. Rohit has been a friend and a key pillar in our growth over the last 7 years."
Munjal's exit comes weeks after Moneycontrol reported that Ola's General Counsel Sandeep Chowdhury has quit.
Before him, Chief Financial Officer Swayam Saurabh and Chief Operating Officer Gaurav Porwal also left the company.
These exits come just ahead of Ola's plans to list on the public markets and are being viewed as a red flag by corporate governance experts.
Munjal joined ANI Technologies, the parent company of Ola in March 2015, prior to which he was with GE Healthcare. At the same time, Balachandar N, joined Ola Electric in May 2021, after a nine-year stint as Group Director-HR of the Cafe Coffee Day group.
While employee churn is typically high in fast-growing startups amidst a huge demand for tech talent, it is more pronounced at Ola, due to its tough and demanding work culture. Its founder Bhavish Aggarwal is the founder of two unicorns- the ride-hailing business Ola and Ola Electric, which has ambitious plans to disrupt the electric two-wheeler market.
Ola's core ride-hailing unit is also planning to list on stock exchanges soon, for which it raised $500 million from Warburg Pincus and Temasek, giving early backers Tiger and Matrix a part exit from their stake in the company.
While the company has hired bankers for its IPO, it hasn't disclosed when it plans to go public. The Economic Times recently reported that Ola is finalising a pre-IPO round in the range of $250-$500 million, which will value it at $7 billion.
While COVID-induced lockdowns battered this business in the last year, it has been making a recovery of late as India has opened up significantly in the last few months.
"Over the last 12 months, we have made our ride-hailing business more robust, resilient, and efficient. With a strong recovery post lockdown and shift in consumer preferences away from public transportation, we are well-positioned to capitalize on the various urban mobility needs of our customers," Bhavish Aggarwal, who is the group CEO for Ola, said in a statement in July.
In September, he tweeted stating that the gross merchandise volume (GMV) for Ola crossed pre-COVID levels, adding that the recovery from the second wave of COVID-19 has been three times as faster compared with the first wave.
Even as exits continue at Ola, it also hired leaders across financial services electric mobility and vehicle sales business. Ola Financial Services hired PV Harinarayan as vice president-lending, V Ramesh has joined as the vice-president and head of operations at the company's two-wheeler manufacturing plant Ola Futurefactory.Priteesh Mahajan has joined as the head of Two-wheeler Product Planning and Program Management at Ola Electric, where he will be responsible for overseeing the engineering program management for the company’s two-wheeler programme which includes both the current line-up, as well as future products.