K Ramamurthy was a PR person par excellence. A pleasant human being he had wide contacts with policymakers that he used effectively for the advancement of the institutions he worked for.
KR initially worked for India Cements. After the management passed to N Srinivasan, thanks to a peace brokered to resolve the dispute between K S Narayanan and N Srinivasan by president R Venkataraman, KR was given charge of the Chemplast production facilities at Mettur. He managed the operations in Mettur producing heavy chemicals, PVC, and photovoltaic cells efficiently.
I remember the brilliant presentation he made to a group of journalists including P A Seshan of The Hindu and myself at Mettur on the performance of the company which was then getting ready to go for a public issue for a synthetic rutile project. This plan was dropped and KR was deeply disappointed. At that time, he was also popular as the President of the Alkali Manufacturers Association.
R Varadarajan, who worked with KR at Mettur, recalled the several leadership qualities of KR that endeared him to the staff and also helped expand the operations manifold. The modernisation of the heavy chemicals plant and setting up of the trichloroethylene plant were done under his lead. His suave nature and humane approach to issues ensured harmonious industrial relations, he said.
Within months, KR shifted to Reliance Industries as the Executive Director-Petrochemicals. His yen for PR, like V Balasubramanian’s another PR cum liaison expert of Reliance, was a big advantage in networking with policymakers. This was especially of great value in the 1990s and the initial years of the new millennium when
Reliance made mammoth expansions of its activities in the energy and petrochemical sectors.
With his demise at Bengaluru on 24 September, the Indian management community has lost one of its most colourful and lovable managers.