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The big­gest In­dian crude oil pro­ducer Oil and Nat­u­ral Gas Cor­po­ra­tion Lim­ited (ONGC) has fu­elled big news on an­other turf – Moun­taineer­ing. It is lit­er­ally a tall or­der in Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment (HRD), given that it was a home­grown team of am­a­teur moun­taineers, in­spired and trans­formed by the unique mo­ti­va­tional and en­gag­ing cul­ture of this oil ma­jor, which scaled the Mount Ever­est. Apart from build­ing HR ca­pac­ity across the en­tire oil & gas value chain, ONGC’S claim to fame now re­sides in ex­pand­ing its un­lim­ited HR po­ten­tial.

ONGC’S in-house moun­taineer­ing out­fit, ONGC Hi­malayan As­so­ci­a­tion, has been around for decades to­gether, since the oil ma­jor found moun­taineer­ing as a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of its ge­o­log­i­cal

ren­dezvous with the Hi­malayan foothills, near Dehradun. Ad­ven­ture has been in the DNA of ev­ery ONGCIAN; this as­so­ci­a­tion has grown big­ger and deeper over the years, with mem­bers mak­ing sev­eral climbs to var­i­ous moun­tain peaks.

How­ever, in 2015, Di­rec­tor (Hu­man Re­source) Desh Deepak Misra stoked a bold dream among the young Ong­cians to con­quer a big feat. If ONGC can drill down to over 3000 me­ters be­low the sea in search for oil, why can’t it reach the top of the world to dis­cover a new po­ten­tial? This move fu­elled a ‘Can Do’ spirit among the young­sters of the Ma­haratna en­ergy ma­jor, which soon snow­balled into a unique and pas­sion­ate Em­ployee En­gage­ment ini­tia­tive.

The ad­ven­tur­ous DNA showed up among most of the 33,000 plus ONGC em­ploy­ees when the call for form­ing this Team was made. Though no em­ployee be­lieved on Day One that it was pos­si­ble to scale Mount Ever­est, the as­pi­ra­tion was nev­er­the­less born. Through a se­ries of in­spir­ing mes­sages broad­cast through the in­tranet web por­tal of ONGC, Di­rec­tor (HR) Misra kept mo­ti­vat­ing the young­sters to join this mis­sion.


The as­pi­ra­tion started to gain con­fi­dence with the team’s suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of the Ever­est Base Camp Trek in Oc­to­ber 2015. This suc­cess was the ini­tial en­er­gizer and ONGC CMD D.K. Sar­raf ex­horted all team mem­bers to tar­get noth­ing less than the Mount Ever­est. The con­fi­dence grew and thus the trans­for­ma­tion be­gan.

A stage-wise train­ing cum se­lec­tion pro­gram was ad­min­is­tered with pro­fes­sional help of the In­dian Moun­taineer­ing Foun­da­tion (IMF) led by Col. HS Chauhan. An 11-mem­ber Ever­est Ex­pe­di­tion Team spear­headed by Ex­pe­di­tion leader Cap­tain SK Sang­wan and a sup­port team was se­lected from a group of 150 ONGC em­ploy­ees, af­ter a rig­or­ous stage-wise se­lec­tion process.

ONGC Team Ever­est was com­pletely holis­tic and in­clu­sive in hav­ing ap­pro­pri­ate gen­der rep­re­sen­ta­tion; in the sense to se­lect Cap­tain SK Sang­wan, a Kargil war vet­eran, wear­ing an ar­ti­fi­cial leg (a Per­son with Dis­abil­i­ties) - as the Ex­pe­di­tion Leader, en­gi­neers and sci­en­tists – all am­a­teur in moun­taineer­ing – but en­gaged with the or­ga­ni­za­tional mis­sion. The big­ger mis­sion was to build a cul­ture of team work to act as an ex­am­ple for the 33,000 Ong­cians, and gen­er­a­tions there­after, to set their sight on.

The team un­der­took in­ten­sive train­ing de­signed by IMF for over 16 months, in­volv­ing a 5 km run within 25 min­utes, 19-km En­durance trek in moun­tains, 14-day Ad­ven­ture course, 28-day Ba­sic moun­taineer­ing course, and 30-day Ad­vanced moun­taineer­ing course, to be guided by an ex­pe­ri­enced 5-time Ever­ester and Padma Shri Loveraj Singh Dharmshaktu, As­sis­tant Com­man­dant, BSF. Team ONGC was ready for the ex­pe­di­tion to reach the top of the world. The train­ing ex­posed them to the per­va­sive harsh con­di­tions en­coun­tered dur­ing high al­ti­tude ex­pe­di­tions and also de­vel­oped the holis­tic lead­er­ship traits that will run through the fu­ture of Ma­haratna ONGC.

Rechris­tened as ONGC Eco Ever­est Ex­pe­di­tion, the mis­sion was flagged off on March 27, 2017 by the Hon’ble Min­is­ter of State, In­de­pen­dent Charge Dhar­men­dra Pradhan.


The Team started its 9-day jour­ney on foot af­ter ar­riv­ing at one of the most dan­ger­ous air­ports in the world at Lukla to­wards Ever­est Base Camp. Di­rec­tor (Hu­man Re­sources) Desh Deepak Misra and Di­rec­tor (Tech­nol­ogy & Field Ser­vices) Shashi Shanker trav­elled to Nam­che Bazaar in North East Nepal to en­cour­age the ONGC ex­pe­di­tion team to start the as­cent. A 24x7 Mis­sion Con­trol room was made at the ONGC Cor­po­rate of­fice in Delhi to mon­i­tor and track the Team’s minute to minute progress.

It was a tryst with destiny for the well-knit ONGC team of am­a­teur moun­taineers. Af­ter around a month of gru­elling climb, fi­nally at 0615 hours on May 27, 2017, ONGC be­came one of the first cor­po­rates (and the first pub­lic en­ter­prise) in the world to have its in­de­pen­dent team scale the high­est point on this planet – the mighty Sa­gar­matha/ Cho­mol­ungma/ Mount Ever­est.

Yo­gen­dar Gar­biyal, N Jagoi, Rahul Jarn­gal, San­tosh Ku­mar, Nir­mal Ku­mar and Prab­hat Gau­rav achieved this unique feat with the sup­port of ex­pe­di­tion leader Cap­tain Sang­wan, the team doc­tor Dr. Nitin Chawla, Lady sup­port mem­ber Dr. Ritu Sharma and un­der the as­tute guid­ance of Padma Shri Loveraj Singh Dharmshaktu, As­sis­tant Com­man­dant (BSF) rep­re­sent­ing the In­dian Moun­taineer­ing Foun­da­tion (IMF). In an ex­em­plary dis­play of in­te­grated team work, two team mem­bers viz. Monti and To­mar aborted their climb in the last leg, to en­hance the over­all chances of the other mem­bers. ONGC rec­og­nized Monti and

To­mar as big­ger he­roes in this team ef­fort.

Bring­ing back 1500 ki­los of garbage un­der ‘Swachh Hi­malaya Ab­hiyan’

As an in­ter­est­ing part of this ex­pe­di­tion, ONGC helped Nepal Gov­ern­ment in re­mov­ing tons of solid wastes that is lit­tered on the Ever­est peak. The ONGC Team brought back that garbage from the peak, work­ing as the ‘Green Hi­malayan Am­bas­sadors’ un­der the aegis of ‘Swachh Hi­malaya Ab­hiyan’, draw­ing in­spi­ra­tion from ‘Swach­hta Ab­hiyan’ pi­o­neered by the Hon’ble Prime Min­is­ter.


While the fron­tend of this ex­pe­di­tion has been its com­plete suc­cess, the back­end is rooted in de­vel­op­ing Team Spirit among the em­ploy­ees – the oil sol­diers of the en­ergy-starved na­tion. ONGC be­lieves in em­pow­er­ing its em­ploy­ees and con­tin­u­ously push­ing them, and this ex­pe­di­tion of­fers in­valu­able insights into lead­er­ship and team­work. The dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances test the team to the limit and de­mand close col­lab­o­ra­tion to achieve the com­mon goal. Peak Per­for­mance is only pos­si­ble with real team­work. It was this team spirit which proved to be a key suc­cess fac­tor for the ex­pe­di­tion team. The col­lab­o­ra­tive qual­i­ties de­vel­oped dur­ing this ex­pe­di­tion will surely en­able team mem­bers to suc­ceed par ex­cel­lence in their pro­fes­sional ca­reers. In words of the Ex­pe­di­tion Leader Capt. Sang­wan, “In a true tes­ta­ment of team spirit, group ef­fort and in­domitable spirit, two of the team mem­bers – Monti and To­mar, gave their sac­ri­fice for the team, as they will­ingly de­cided to abort their climb, which en­hanced their team mem­bers’ chances to move ahead to the summit.”

Ed­mund Hil­lary aptly said, “It is not the moun­tain we con­quer, but our­selves.” True, the ONGC Team con­quered their in­ner selves to scale their high­est po­ten­tial.

With this unique em­ployee en­gage­ment HR ini­tia­tive and the ‘Can Do’ spirit, en­ergy ma­jor ONGC has demon­strated that pas­sion can trans­form us and en­able us to sur­mount any chal­lenge, be it drop­ping to the depths of the Earth for na­tional en­ergy se­cu­rity, or climb­ing to the top of the world for na­tional glory.

The Petroleum Min­is­ter flagged off the ex­pe­di­tion


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