Building Compassionate Leaders My Lessons at Mastek

In a world that is driven by ‘Greed’ and focus on ‘Self’, I was fortunate to work in an  organization and under leaders who are driven by values and ‘respect for individual’. I got an opportunity to co-found Mastek Foundation along with Ashank Desai a stalwart of the IT industry in my very early days in the organisation. One of the objectives of creating Mastek Foundation was to sensitise and engage Mastekeers with the community. Over the past 18 years I have learnt a few lessons on Compassionate Leadership at Mastek which I would like to share.

  1. It All Begins at the Top.

I have had the fortune of working closely with Ashank and Sudhakar and also interact with Sundar and Ketan. All four founders are first generation entrepreneurs and IIM graduates. The values Mastek holds flows directly from all four of them, the simplicity, the humbleness, the respect for people and values of honesty and ethics flows from them. Mastek has a deep and unique culture which is people friendly and there is a term referred by Ex-Mastekeers ‘Once a Mastekeer , Always a Mastekeer.’

One cannot impose culture and it does not begin at the bottom , culture flows when leaders walk the talk ! 

  1. Support for the Community is not a Tick Mark 

Long before the CSR act came into place we had Mastek Foundation and we were engaging with the community. Recently when based on the CSR act we could have reduced the annual budgets of Mastek Foundation I got a message that the board took a call to continue supporting the community at similar levels irrespective of the funds mandated by the act.

We continue to invest is supporting initiatives like ‘IT for NGOs’ supporting capability building at NGOs though not part of CSR act. We continue with initiatives in the campuses to mentor youth to build IT solutions for non profits through ‘Project Deep Blue’ again not part of the CSR act.

Community engagement at Mastek is not a tick mark activity it is part of the culture of who we are.

  1. Engage , Engage, Engage

Over the past 18 years we constantly worked at engaging Mastekeers with the community , we call community leaders to talk to Mastekeers , we organise fundraisers , we mentor students at campuses , we help Non Profits build IT solutions , we have an active payroll giving . There is no short cut to engaging employees with the community.

The result is over 80 % of our employees are part of the payroll giving program compared to the industry standard of 15% to 20%. This has taken time and effort, but it produces results.

  1. Put your money first

When we ask Mastekeers to give we at many times run a 100% matching contribution from Mastek . This motivates employees to give when they know that their contribution would have a multiplier impact.

Adding a matching grant from the organisation always works.

  1. Contribute skills

For a software engineer, it is best that he contributes his IT skills. We have a unique mentoring program for college students this is called ‘Project Deep Blue’. Every year students are mentored over a period of 4 months by Mastekeers to build real life working solutions for Non-Profits. This is a win-win solution on all sides , last year we had over 800 students from 18 colleges participate in ‘Project Deep Blue’.

Rather than volunteer for feel good it would make sense to volunteer for real impact. Contributing skills leads to real impact. 

  1. Build solutions for a busy executive 

We work in an industry where there are tough project timelines, we explored the possibility for busy executives to contribute from wherever they at the time of their convinience . The idea of ‘Social Champions’ was born. In todays connected world every Millennial has a Facebook and Instagram page, it is time they have a ‘Krama’ page.

On this ‘Karma’ page an individual can choose the cause/ NGO they wish to support and declare a goal for fundraising. They can then use their special days like birth days , anniversaries or any special occasion to fundraise for their chosen cause. They can customise the page , their message , share on social media even invite their friends to volunteer for projects they are supporting.

GivNow a division of Benow a digital payment start-up incubated by Mastek launched a low cost fundraiser and donor engagement platform for NGOs during Daan Utsav in Oct 2017.  In a short span of time over 300 NGOs are already on the platform.  Now leveraging our employee engagement experience at Mastek and digital payments experience at Benow we are providing the platform free of cost to all Corporates.

Our vision is that even if 1% of the employees at corporates takes up to becoming Social Champions we would help create more compassionate leaders in the corporate world. This in turn will help to grow retail giving in India which is the need of the hour.

Compassionate leaders make business sense as they have a quality ‘empathy’ and they go beyond ‘self’ they are able to inspire teams around them this has a positive impact on the organisation culture and performance.

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