K Ramamurthy (KR) is a PR person par excellence. A pleasant human being who has had wide contacts with policymakers and used it effectively for the advancement of the institutions he worked.
KR initially worked for India Cements. After the management passed on to the hands of 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 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, setting up 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, another PR cum liaison expert of Reliance, was a big help in the networking capability with policymakers, were of great value in the 1990s and in the initial years of new millennium when Reliance made mammoth expansion of its activities in the energy and petrochemical sectors.
In his demise at Bengaluru on 24 September, the Indian management community has lost one of its colourful and lovable managers.