Friday, August 24, 2007

Business and leadership in the non profit space, Ingrid Srinath, CEO, CRY

On 23rd August, 2007 the Management Insights for Social Transformation (MIST) forum of the Department of Management of Studies of IIT Madras invited another social cause visionary, Ms Ingrid Srinath, the CEO of Child Rights and You (CRY). She spoke on the topic of “Business and leadership in the non profit space”.

Ms. Ingrid Srinath was welcomed by Prof. L.S. Ganesh, the Head of Department of DoMS. To convey her thoughts regarding the subject of her address, she chose to start off by telling the audience the things she wished she would have known when she started her corporate career.
She described that phase as one in which she spoke in jargon, couldn’t relate to things immeasurable, and was chronically risk-averse. From then on she learned a number of lessons that have been important to CRY as would also be to an organization that wants to thrive in the 21st century.

Firstly questioning the very purpose of her existence and giving the example of Google and eBay, Ms Ingrid Srinath said that that money, wealth and power should only be the by-products of a successful life and a mission to change lives of others. However, she did acknowledge its importance and said that CRY has done well on that front where it is expected to raise Rs 50 crore this year. In this regard, giving the achievements and statistics for CRY, she said that in a survey her organization had recorded the highest brand recall and recognition as compared to its peers. Recalling CRY’s purpose of existence as well her own experiences as its executives, she said that today we need to reduce the widening disparity between the have and have-nots, urgently address the state of females in India as well as uplift the marginalised section of India.

Ms Ingrid Srinath emphasized that the most successful individuals and organisations don’t fit roles or markets, they create them. CRY has led in a similar fashion in its sector by urging individuals, organizations and governments to work in tandem.

Talking about leadership she said that a good leader is one who lets his or her team members discover things themselves. Quoting CRY’s mission in this regard, she said that CRY also makes efforts to give each child and opportunity to realise its full potential.

Describing today’s dynamic business environment, Ms Ingrid Srinath said that one could only succeed if one resolutely keeps on trying despite stumbles and failures.

Urging everyone to not shirk from challenges, she stressed the need to balance issues such as growth and profitability, systems and values and the today and the future. She asked everyone to think with their hearts and feel with their minds to come up with equitable solutions to each problem.

Admiring Madonna, Ms Ingrid Srinath dwelled on the need to constantly reinvent oneself by risking one’s clich├ęs. She said that the best way one could contribute to a cause was to do the thing that he or she does the best. Taking this view further, she said that we could all play responsible roles for all social issues, including child upliftment and betterment.

She maintained that a person’s career and life choices must be for a long term, taking into account the betterment of one’s neighbour and community. Ms Ingrid Srinath also underscored the need for an individual to devotedly subscribe to his or her organization’s mission and then build ones career in accordance as well as mould that of others around it. Such is the zeal that Google has been drilling into its employees. The profits have followed. She ended the address by saying that such were her expectations from CRY and that she has been and will be working towards this goal.

Subsequently Ms Ingrid Srinath fielded questions from the audience. She answered questions on how CRY was responding to the challenges of educating children, how CRY motivates its employees, the concept of CSR and corporate philanthropy in India, the reasons behind changing CRY from Child Relief and You to Child Rights and You, and the issue of NGO accountability in the wake of corruptions charges against them.

The session ended with Prof M. Thenmozhi thanking Ms Ingrid Srinath for coming forth and sharing her experiences and insights with the students of DoMS.

The Department of Management Studies (DoMS) is the youngest and one of the most dynamic departments of IIT Madras. It came into existence in 2001 to fulfill the industry's growing demand for high quality management research as well as managers trained in the finer nuances of business and technology by offering an MBA programme comparable to the best BSchools in the country. Currently, the department offers degrees in MBA, MS and PhDs in various functional areas and specialized domains of the industry.

Kunal Lal
Batch of 2009,
DoMS Interface,
DoMS, IIT Madras

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