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A Fit to Last: Hill Executive Director, India Sateesh Kumar Focuses on Growth

In the summer of 2021, Hill International acquired the NEYO Group, a pan-Indian cost consultancy firm. Hill’s acquisition of NEYO, now known as Hill International Cost Consultancy (India) Pvt. Ltd., expanded the estimating and cost engineering services Hill offers to clients throughout the Asia-Pacific region and boosted Hill’s staff in India to more than 200 professionals. One of those professionals is Sateesh Kumar, a reputed leader in India’s professional services industry, who was recently promoted to Executive Director, India Operations at Hill.

Sateesh at reception preferred

Sateesh has about 35 years of project management, cost management, and contracts advisory experience in the Middle East and India. He is one of NEYO’s founding partners and has led the company’s growth since 2016. Now, about 20 months after joining Hill, Sateesh speaks highly of NEYO’s transition, citing company compatibility and a variety of synergistic opportunities. For example, he mentions a major new win with a confidential client in New Delhi, which he attributes to the dual project and cost management focus that Hill can offer to clients.

However, for Sateesh, the fit goes deeper than just company compatibility. Sateesh has found a home at Hill. “It has been very good, very interesting, and has gone very fast,” he says. “Hill is a great company with an excellent reputation in India. My team and I have spent a great deal of time learning more about Hill’s global credentials and developing our insight into Hill’s service offerings, people, and systems. The support I received from the Asia-Pacific and global leadership has been very helpful in this journey.”

Executing the Transition

As a leader at NEYO, Sateesh was responsible for overseeing many aspects of the acquisition. The most daunting task involved merging NEYO’s business systems, policies, and digital infrastructure with Hill’s. Though Sateesh expected the integration to be a major challenge, the process was surprisingly rapid and smooth.

“It was a very comfortable process,” says Sateesh. “That’s a testament to my colleagues and their willingness to adapt, as well as to the exceptional management of Hill’s IT and business infrastructure. The smooth transition allowed us to quickly shift our focus to developing the business, collaborating with colleagues, and winning new projects in India.”

While Sateesh credits his colleagues, he played a critical role by learning the new systems and helping to train Hill International Cost Consultancy staff across India. In addition, Sateesh led policy formation to help ensure compliance with Hill’s branding, recruiting and payroll processes, and more. “Without Sateesh’s efforts, the transition would not have been as smooth as it was,” adds Senior Vice President, Asia-Pacific and Technical Core Team Saïd Mneimné. “He has been a true leader throughout.”

A Focus on Growth

As the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to recede, India has stepped out of its recovery period and demonstrated its resilience. According to Reuters, the country enjoyed GDP growth of approximately 7% in 2022, surpassing the global average, and S&P’s Global expects India’s GDP to hover around 6% through the rest of the decade. Bolstered by government plans to spend $1.4 trillion on infrastructure through 2025 via the National Infrastructure Pipeline, the construction industry continues to help drive India’s growth. These conditions have created a ripe business environment for Hill. “Our assignment in New Delhi is just one example,” Sateesh says. “Hill’s Cost Consultancy business grew by approximately 25% last year. That reflects the favorable conditions in India for construction as well as the confidence clients place in Hill’s brand.”

SK with SM

In less than two years with the company, Sateesh has played an outsized role in growing Hill’s business and capitalizing on the strong Indian market. Following the acquisition, Sateesh took on a variety of roles at Hill encompassing business development, strategy, budget, regional management, operations, and more. According to Saïd, the depth of Sateesh’s business acumen and his willingness to support any area of operations and administration have made him a tremendous asset for the Asia-Pacific region.

In addition, Sateesh regularly participates at conferences and networks with his fellow Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) members, supporting Hill’s brand visibility. He also brings a network of connections built over his 35-year career to Hill. In fact, in 2022, Sateesh used his network to efficiently source partners for a job, helping Hill deliver an estimating assignment in Asia with a confidential client.

Adding Value for the Long Term

Because of the leadership and dexterity Sateesh displayed throughout the NEYO acquisition and the value he has added with Hill, Sateesh was promoted to Executive Director in early 2023. Now, he and Hill’s other leaders in India look forward to maintaining their momentum.

Sateesh with Janakiram and Irshad

“Hill is bullish on the country’s continued growth,” Sateesh says. “Our bids are up 30% in India year over year. We have a major local presence in many of India’s major cities and global know-how. Our experience includes large-scale projects in both the vertical and horizontal markets. With joint project and cost management specialization, we stand out from the competition. Plus, Hill already has strong relationships and contract vehicles in place with many clients who would benefit from enhanced cost management support—not just in India, but around the world. We’re exploring ways to capitalize on that existing business infrastructure.

“I would like to recognize the contributions of my new colleagues Saïd Mneimné and Vice President Business Development Jignesh Ruparel, as well as my long-term colleagues from NEYO Managing Director Janakiram VVS and Director Irshad Ali. Without these professionals, the smooth merger with Hill would not have happened. Moreover, their efforts have positioned Hill to enjoy sustainable growth in India for the long term. I am proud to work with such a team.”

sateesh kumar

Sateesh Kumar serves as Executive Director, India Operations at Hill International, Inc. He has 35 years of experience in both Indian and international construction markets and is a founding member and strategic director of the NEYO Group, now Hill International Cost Consultancy (India) Pvt. Ltd. Sateesh is a RICS Fellow, one of the first in India, and served as member of RICS’s Governing Council representing South Asia from 2015 to 2016. He has expertise in drafting and advising on construction contracts as well as qualifications in engineering, management, and construction contracts from the U.K.