Top 20 quotes from the Careers In Impact workshop

A look at the lively interaction between social sector professionals, entrepreneurs, investors and those seeking to make the shift, quotably!

The Careers In Impact Edition 2 workshop witnessed a lively interaction between social entrepreneurs, Impact leaders and professionals interested in transitioning to the social sector – the day long workshop looked at opportunities, the landscape, motivations to join the space, the money, the challenges, what makes people stay and more! Presenting a snapshot of the workshop, through the most quotable quotes:

“What is the cause of revolt and unrest? When an individual doesn’t have a stake in society.

-V Balakrishnan, Chairman, Micrograam

“You find good people, you find bad people: you have to deal with it. So it’s like any other job in that sense, but having said that, the satisfaction is way different than any other job. Each penny you earn makes a larger value in your life.”

-Madan Padaki, co-founder and CEO, Head Held High

“If you are a great leader, you always hire the best and brightest. Hire someone smarter than you. Having them around will get you the best advice and ideas and help you change the world around you.”

-V Balakrishnan, Chairman, Micrograam

“The CEO’s job is the toughest. Employees want more salary, shareholders want more returns, customers want least price and vendors want the most price. So many stakeholders to manage; this situation is kind of like a small version of the larger one that is managing the entire country.”

-V Balakrishnan, Chairman, Micrograam

“The hope of this country is in youngsters, it would be better if the older people get out of the system and make way.”

-V Balakrishnan, Chairman, Micrograam

“One of the key learnings we have imbibed is that we cannot grow the rural markets solely as a fixed service model. For the rural ecosystem to actually grow I see a business opportunity in enabling the rural youth to understand services and technology and to equip them with entrepreneurial skills, thus creating a huge opportunity for trained youth to partner with corporates.”

-Madan Padaki, Head Held High

“All of our design guys have no experience with rural India. They are learning from zero and this learning is becoming our greatest value addition. These guys are coming up with products that do not exist in the market today and which can actually be used by today’s farmer without changing his age old habits.”

– Devi Murthy, Kamal Kisan

“Through our experience with placing many people in the sector, we see the slow process of absorption into the Impact sector getting much better. Non-profits have to adapt to change – donor agencies and multi-lateral aid is predicted to move out and corporate funding is not scaling.”

– Krishna, Sattva

“In an environment like this, you can’t really hire a skill because the skill itself might change in a course of time. I think the best way to hire in this sector, is to find part time consultants. All of my senior guys started out as part time consultants for 6 months because i think it’s better for someone to work together and see where they can fit in my organization.”

– Devi Murthy, Kamal Kisan

“The first challenge for corporate professionals to move is not a social sector problem, it is a start up problem – fitting into the culture of working in a small organisation. Professionals also view the sector top-down – ‘this is the way to alleviate poverty’ and that doesn’t work.”

– Krishna, Sattva

“If you are in field operations, it is extremely critical that you can connect with the local crowd. They need to recognize that you are a local who knows the local lingo. Language becomes a very important part to establish trust but once the trust is established, the barrier of language is shed.”

– Madan Padaki, Head Held High

Initially, before I joined the sector, money didn’t count, it wasn’t a thing. Now I value money a lot more – I value every Kurtha I buy! My family has also started appreciating the value of things and experiences more now. I joined the waste management space, not because it is philanthropic, but because I believe that environmental and social sustainability is the next big thing.

– Divya Tiwari, Operations and Market Development, Saahas, on joining the sector.

“The hardest part about working in the sector for me has been recruitment and retaining talent. The corporate world is a sea of people: nothing changes if you leave. If I hire people here, their career growth becomes my responsibility.”

– Gaurav Gupta, Aarusha Homes

“Fellowships give you a fantastic platform to navigate through the ecosystem. It gives you a great exposure to the social sector, secondly you will get a massive opportunity and finally it can give you a great, great learning.”

– Priya Soman, Villgro

“We look for intensity, integrity, intellect. We get candidates to write essays on ‘Why Artoo’ post resume submission. Next step: we give them a simple task. For engineers it is building something in a language they haven’t used previously, to see how quickly they are able to learn. We then ask them to come in and present their solution in order to test soft skills. The last step is going out for lunch with the team, and all 6 team members have to vote a yes. This makes the process really difficult and frustrating at times, but now we have a really stellar team.”

– Sameer Segal, Artoo

“In HSBC where I worked before Aarusha, everything was structured. You knew who to go to, to ask for the policies. What you bring to this sector when you move is not really a specific skill set but what you understand from working with large organisations – you bring experience to deal with situations that can come up anytime anywhere.”

“Those sitting on the fence – be very clear about expectations, be clear of the compensation. Know that this sector doesn’t pay as much as the regular sector.”

– Gaurav Gupta, Aarusha Homes

“I worked in IT and various other sectors for 13 years before starting a social enterprise. The biggest challenge for me has been to teach kids how to read. The intensity of challenge here is significantly higher, you need to think out of the box everyday! The bottom of the pyramid jobs are not for the weak minded, you need to have a love for challenge. It is like scaling a peak – you need to love the journey.”

– Umesh Malhotra, Hippocampus

“I started when no one was talking about sustainability, so I was fortunate enough to enter the sector when the barrier for entry was low. I was always very clear that I wanted to start a company. I decided I will retire at 35, and started building my career backwards. I quit at 38, I work in public education now, and I am content with driving in a Santro. You have to make a lifestyle adjustment.  But you get priceless satisfaction at the end of the day. It’s all about attitude.”

– Prasanna Vadayar, Sikshana Foundation

“India is not a poor country, it is a poorly governed country.”

– V Balakrishna, Micrograam

‘The Careers In Impact Workshop’ brings social entrepreneurs, Impact leaders, investors together with professionals to take a deep dive into working in Social Impact – opportunities, ground realities, current landscape and what it means after you have taken the plunge.



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