India’s top business leaders talk environment, economy and ethics

Great Lakes, Gurgaon’s management conclave 2022


Gurugram: Great Lakes Institute of Management, Gurgaon, one of the premier business schools in the country, recently hosted Sapience 2022, its annual management conclave on the theme of Sustainability: Balancing the 3 E’s: Economy, Environment & Ethics. Headlined by author, educationist, management advisor and Padma Bhushan recipient Dr. Mrityunjay Athreya, the conclave saw top leaders speak about balancing three core aspects of Sustainability – Economy, Environment, and Ethics, which act as a framework that firms can use to develop, test, and evaluate their business strategies.

Emphasizing that the environment has to be our first priority, Dr. Athreya said, “The sustainability mantra has to influence our consciousness, planning, scheduling action and control at every step. India is a high growth economy. We have to focus on our potential in the next 10-20 years as a growing economy, but subject to a healthy environment. Whatever economic growth, however high we are able to achieve, has to be under one immutable condition: Green economy. We cannot afford to have a high carbon pollution kind of economic growth. We have to work simultaneously on the energy front as well as economic growth and with respect to ethics.”

As global perceptions change, sustainability is turning into a must for businesses. Sustainability supported by the economic, environmental, and social pillars will ensure the protection of the environment as well as the stability of the economy. The deliberations at Sapience covered in depth these aspects. Panel discussion on different tracks also shed light on important concepts.

In a panel discussion on human resources and organizational behaviour, panelists discussed why creating a workplace promoting discussion on sustainable development has become important. As per Vineeta Kukreti, Senior Director- HR, Fiserv, “Care is currency nowadays. The pandemic has had a huge amount of resetting the organizational culture. The way organizations are demonstrating their care or their level of employer value proposition has also shifted about care.” Adding, Neeti Kumar, VP & Head- HR, Adda 247, said, “Sustainability is that we focus on your purpose and you grow, and anything as comes later. That for an employee means that you need to be well on the inside.” In the same panel, Alvin David, Head- Campus Hiring and Employer Branding, Newgen Software, shared, “We need to have a sustainable employee because of the kinds of challenges that this hybrid work is throwing at us in terms of maintaining our well-being.”

For the marketing track discussion, leaders came together to talk about challenges faced by an industry in adopting sustainability as a strategy. While Abhinav Chamoli, Strategy & Trust Transformation at Grand Thornton Bharat LLP, stressed on “finding alternate ways of doing things for the need to foster a culture of sustainability”; Kunal Kapoor, VP- Client Engagement & Delivery, Merkle Sokrati said, “Take, make and waste is a linear progression of marketing. We need to remove waste from the equation by reusing and recycling so that the linear model of business development become cyclic.” Rajeev Sinha, CEO & Co-Founder, OnlyGood, shared, “We need to make sustainability a competitive advantage. Sustainability gives you an edge, an advantage over other companies.” Concluding the panel, Sumit Kumar Singh, Product Growth & Gamification, Microsoft, stated, “Minimalism, a more sensitive lifestyle would be really easy for Indians to adopt because it’s in our DNA. We have a tradition of inheritance of items from one generation to another. So, for us, it’s always existed. We just need to realise it.”

Addressing the audience on finance and sustainability, Sanjay Sharda, Executive VP & National Partner (Snergy), IndusInd Bank, said, “Sustainability starts with ethics and compliance. If you are ethical, nobody is going to cut you, but if you try to cut corners, you’ll be cut yourself and very fast.” Strategic Leader Kaushik Acharya, conferred, “There is much more in the changing business landscape that we are in and it has been inundated. The basic concept of expanding to this extent was a mistake by my generation.” Adding, Vaibhav Mangal, Associate Director-Taxation, Perfetti Van Melle, stressed on ethics to set the right tone and CA Shailesh Churiwala, Founder, R2i2 Labs stressed on applying sustainability in the Environmental, Social, and Governance perspectives.

Speaking about analytics and sustainability at the conclave, Vibhu Goenka, VP, EXL, “The kind of data deluge we have seen especially over the last few years both offline and online sort of data has enabled AI to provide much more sophisticated and accurate solutions.” Providing a contrarian thought, Ajay Davessar, MD, Lavessta Enterprise, said, “Research shows about 75% of goals would benefit from AI and 35% of goals would be inhibited by promoting AI in the world.” In the panel, Saksham Malik, Program Manager, The Dialogue, said, “If you allow industries like data mining solutions there, consent managers to grow we will have a good opportunity to attract new investments.” Concluding, Abhineet Bothra, Strategy Lead, Comviva, said, “Data Analytics must become successful, and it has to be scalable. It must be inter-operatable. It must be open, and we need to focus on not only the descriptive where we just analyze the data to create results.”

Elaborating on entrepreneurship, Saurabh Singh, Co- Founder & CEO, Desmania Innovations Labs, said, “What makes a product different from others is how it enables the customers. When that core value is used as a guiding principle in product development, we can achieve sustainability.” Sharing her thoughts, Monika Gupta, Founder and Director, InteractivBees, said, “These are VUCA times: Volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. In order to sustain in these times, we need to: Be grounded by own values, have a good understanding of the ecosystem, develop clarity regarding complex things and be prepared to deal with ambiguity.” Concluding the session, Chand Seth, Chairman, Pearl Polymer, “Reinvention is very important to avoid failure. People have to be motivated because they are fundamental to the functioning of the organism.”

In the final panel discussion on bringing sustainability to businesses through operations, Avijit Das, MD & CEO, Everready and Founder & Chairman, Premas Biotech, gave a call to action about “building a mindset and consciousness about sustainability” while Rakesh Sharma, SVP-Tata Teleservices, said that anything and everything must pass through the principles of DIKW (Data, Information, Knowledge and Wisdom) as the paradigm to transform the world. In the same panel, Shubhra Puri, Founder, Gurgaon First, said, “Sustainability is a way of life, way of expression. It is preserving the resources for our future generations, but actually it is a life which is based on ethics and protecting the environment.” Adding, Shruti Arora, Director, PWc, said, “The industry will need to focus on the upskilling, the training, and it’s not just their own employees, to sustain this growth of upskilling.”

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