Thursday, August 28, 2008

E.Sreedharan - the undisputed guru of Project Management

Dr. E.Sreedharan – MD –Delhi Metro
-    Railway Minister's Award (1963)
-    Padma Shri by the Government of India (2001)
-    Man of the Year by The Times of India (2002)
-    Shri Om Prakash Bhasin Award for professional excellence in engineering (2002)
-    CII (Confederation of Indian Industry) Juror's Award for leadership in infrastructure development (2002-03)
-    One of Asia's Heroes by TIME (2003)
-    AIMA (All India Management Association) award for Public Service Excellence (2003)
-    Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris causa) from IIT Delhi.
-    Bharat Shiromani award from the Shiromani Institute, Chandigarh (2005)
-    Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour) by the government of France (2005)
-    CNN-IBN Indian Of the Year 2007: Public Service (2008)
-    Padma Vibhushan by the Government of India (2008)
-    Champion of Project Management in India - The Project Management Institute, Inc (PMI) (2008)

It was more than a year back, a beautiful cottage in the back drop of Chamundi hills in Mysore was witnessing serious discussions on various Project Management topics. ‘PRS Calm’ , a common conferencing resort for my previous company was the venue for ‘Advanced Project Management Training’ by a PMI REP from Delhi – PMAC. We were lucky to have Mr.Chaudhary , Director of PMAC, itself as the trainer. He used to introduce funny stories and snippets from his past experiences in the so called ‘Boring’ PMBOK elaboration!
Among one of such elevated moments he made a pause, came out from the podium and stood very near to the front row, holding the table.
“If I touch anyone’s feet in respect of PM expertise, that would be none other than Mr. E.Sreedharan!” – was Mr.Chaudhary emotional?

Hey! Hold on , I know this man. I have heard a lot about him from the media. Only that much? Come on, you know him better. He is from your native village. Your family knows his family very well. He gave scholarship to you when you stood top in the school. He wrote a letter to you congratulating your achievement… and you replied to that…. He surprised you by promptly replying to your letter, a letter written by ‘Malayalam medium – Sarkaari School going’ student. He circled the spelling mistakes in my letter by red pen and wrote comments above. He took time to write a beautiful inspiring reply to me. It was then I have placed him in my mind as my hero, my mentor, my icon! (But, sorry sir, I still make spelling mistakes , but thanks to MS Word spell checker! - I am managing somehow !)

I have kept those letters among my best treasures. When I look at them even now, I feel proud. He asked me to keep in touch and let him know about the progress of my education and career. No pardon for me – I didn’t keep that promise and I am sorry for that!

This happened 12 years ago and I really don’t know whether he remember me or this incident! After so many years I had a chat with Mr.Adigal who is a friend of my dad and a close associate of Mr.Sreedharan. I told him about this and he asked me to come over and meet him so that he can arrange a meeting with Mr.Sreedharan. How ever I couldn’t visit Delhi after that.
Now my next Delhi visit will have surely this item on top of my agenda and I hope I can meet him then!

This space is not enough to discuss about his achievements in the field of Project Management. But I would say that he has realised certain dreams which any project manager in this world might have dreamt of ! – and yes, he did that many times !

Completing multi billion public sector projects in the most challenging environments (Which every one wrote off as impossible!) several months ahead of schedule with in budget and with out compromising quality or performance. Any one who travel through the western coastal area of India will see the magnificent project – Konkan Railway , constructed successfully by tackling all challenges brought in by nature. Any project manager would have backed off, dishearten seeing the obstacles placed by nature all the way. Is anybody in India capable doing what he did in Delhi? How many Delhi-ites knew what was happening under the foot path or city roads of busy Delhi?   One of the most magnificent projects of India was progressing silently under the neatly covered areas beside busy roads.

A google search on his name resulted about 150,000 pages! Just look at some of the interesting links:
(The contents may get altered by the respective web administrators or bloggers. PM Karma is not responsible for contents of external websites)

You are the inspiration for young PM professionals and gift to the Indians who would like to see some hope in the allegedly corrupted and severely mismanaged Public sector projects!
Hats off to the real hero of project management!


  1. Its very disheartning sometimes dat in India there r many such great heroes but very less people know about dem n their be frank even m one of them.The great Mr.E Sreedharan is actually one of our family members but i was not aware about most of his great aacheivements..but m really thankful 2 u for sharing such a beautiful piece of information n a real story from ur life n dis will help others 2 understand dat Mr.Sreedharan is not just the man with great calibures but a man of heart n dat makes him stand differnt in crowd... We all respect n love him a lot.It ws a great script dear well done.

  2. Thanks Sandhya,
    He is a person very much interested in educating youngsters and so humble in his manners. People who boast meager achievements , do publicity stunts and eat public wealth might feel ashamed reading his profile.
    We can feel proud of being from his native place and associated with his family !

  3. Hi Sreejith -

    Being from the U.S. I was not familiar with the name Dr. E.Sreedharan - What an amazing fellow! His major accomplishments and real world project management experience do make him a true PM Guru!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on such an interesting person that all PMs can learn from. I'll be sure to point to your post to continue spreading the E.Sreedharan love!


  4. Sreejith, Thanks for the post. I am very keen to know about this living legend who will put all teens to shame with his work. You should thank your stars for being in touch with the legend. I envy you buddy.
    Post more about this legend.

  5. Hi,
    your anecdote is really impressive. Do you know if somebody has written a biography of E. Sreedharan? More particularly if there is somebody from the field of project management that might distill his "magic touch"- so others may learn from it? We need maybe 200 E.Sreedharans (and those who concieved the the national road network), and India could actually get rid of the poverty and illitracy that hold us back.
    Good work!

  6. At 77 ! Really he is the best inspiration for professional people like me(77).This is the example why not old professional people of India can be an asset for the country!Who says INDIA is poor where there are professionals like Dr.Sridharan?

  7. sir aap india k real star hai aur ye hamare saubhagya hai ki hamre desh me aap jaise log bhi hai jo ki bharat ki tasveer akele dum per badalte hai. Maine pahle baar aap ke baare me india todey k through jana aur aap ki study history jaani jo ki insperation ki jinda misaal hai .
    Aaj es age me bhi aap ki lagan aur kaam ke jasbe ko main SAADER PRANAM karta hu.
    you are my ideal person.
    Aap ke liye"BHARAT RATNA" bhi kam hai

  8. I am CA.Jambunathan from Chennai.I happened to hear his Welcome address in IIM Kozhikode on 25.06.13. ( It was purely luck as I was a fortunate parent as my son got admission in IIM-K) Infact, had he not revealed the intricacies of Constructing Delhi Metro, other than who heard on 25 th might not know the all good qualities one must possess ,least to say follow in life. Such was his greatness!!.Now to highlight one such good thing in constructing Delhi Metro was , Delhi metro used their own traffic wardens, used to clean tyres of lorries carrying muds/slush before they enter road in order not to disturb road with dirts.He informed lot more.

    Would like to have his e-mail id to communicate in person as he might have forgotten my father Late J.Balasubramanian who had worked under him long back.My father informed about his great qualities even at my tender age of 15 to 20s

  9. Hi Sreejith. Wanted to get in touch with you. What's your email? You may mail me on rajendraa (@) gmail


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