Hosted by the Madras Management Association, this is a live, reflective, non-commercial Conversation Series. AVIS' guests in this Series are Uncommon Leaders for a few special reasons: 1. They don't come from business/corporate backgrounds, but their journeys are inspirational because they have a teachable point of view. 2. The stories of these guests often demonstrate the power of Reflection, Resilience and Resourcefulness - key attributes of personal leadership and entrepreneurship. 3.Unfailingly, all guests have shown how their Happiness - coming from their doing what they truly believe in - has helped them make our world a better place! This Series is primarily focused at the business world/corporate sector which is continuously looking for uncommon perspectives on leadership and entrepreneurship to inspire its troops. It is also for any discerning student of management and leadership. AVIS brings his signature flourish to each Conversation, establishing how Happiness impacts living a Life of Purpose and helps deliver leadership, entrepreneurship and High-Performance in any context in Life.
The Series began in April 2016. Please scroll down to see pictures and videos from all Editions in 2020.
The Uncommon Leader: July 1, 2020 featuring Kirthi Jayakumar - The Gender Security Project
Kirthi is a very angry young lady. She’s angry that the world is abusive, violent and iniquitous towards women. But Kirthi channelizes her anger for a Higher Purpose – to help women globally be empowered so that they are not silently suffering abuse, bullying, judgment, inequity or lack of education. A survivor of abuse herself, Kirthi is a lawyer by education and training. It was through a cathartic inner awakening that she believes her Life’s Purpose found her. The day after the shocking gang-rape in a moving bus in New Delhi took place, in December 2012, Kirthi was receiving an award from the US Consulate in Chennai for her work with a US-based NGO. But deep within her, Kirthi felt “wasted and incomplete” – she told herself that she must not be silent, not when yet another woman had fallen to patriarchy and violence. She decided to talk, loudly, angrily, about the “huge red elephant in the room”! Over the years, her diligent efforts have evolved into The Gender Security Project (GSP). Kirthi envisions a world that is founded on peace, gender equality and inclusion. And GSP works on achieving this through research, advocacy and education. Specifically, GSP offers a web and mobile-based App called Saahas. Although Kirthi does not have an engineering or technology background, she skilled herself to develop the App. Equipped with a chatbot, Saahas provides survivors, across 196 countries, the facility to seek help and encourages the creation of an active bystander culture. During the current lockdown in India, Sahaas has benefited over 1100 survivors. Kirthi has built a global team of 700 volunteers at GSP. This team works doggedly, collectively owning GSP’s Vision, often without a steady source of funding. This ability to channelize her anger to create a better world is what makes Kirthi a #UncommonLeader! Don’t miss this Conversation between the happynesswala, AVIS Viswanathan, and Kirthi. Her purposeful journey offers important lessons that every entrepreneur, business leader, CEO, manager or student of management can benefit from.
The Uncommon Leader: May 5, 2020 featuring Madhavi Latha - WBFI
In the 28th Edition of the Series, we feature Madhavi Latha, President - Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India. Madhavi Latha never takes no for an answer from Life – or from anyone! Consider how she has built an inspiring career despite the odds: • A polio attack, when she was barely seven months old, left 80 percent of her body paralyzed. Yet she excelled academically with degrees in Math, Public Administration and History. • Although wheelchair-dependent, and having had to deal with rejection every step of the way, she has 29 illustrious years of work experience in the banking sector. Competing in a high-performance environment, she’s presently an Associate Vice President at an MNC bank in Chennai. Even so, how she has faced a Life-threatening situation since 2007 defies imagination. That year she was afflicted with a degenerative condition called the post-polio syndrome. Doctors gave her just one more year to live. But, fighting back courageously, Madhavi embraced hydrotherapy. She taught herself swimming and subsequently won the national para-swimming championships multiple times! Important, sports gave her Life a new meaning. In 2014, realizing that playing basketball held great potential for people with disabilities, she co-founded the Wheelchair Basketball Federation of India (WBFI). In under six years, WBFI has transformed the lives of over 650 people with disabilities. It has given them a reason to believe in themselves, while helping them emerge from their depressed, often vegetative, states and live fully. The WBFI today runs several domestic camps that prepare the national teams (for both men and women) to compete consistently at the international level. Madhavi’s leadership of the WBFI from her wheelchair, despite her post-polio syndrome condition, is exemplary. Whether it is mobilizing funds, volunteers, mentors, coaches, players and stadia or whether it is her zest to keep going inspite of the hurdles in her path, she is driven by Purpose and has a clear Vision. She is resilience personified, she is a #UncommonLeader! Come, listen in, as the happynesswala, AVIS Viswanathan, engages her in a meaningful Conversation. Her journey offers important lessons that every entrepreneur, business leader, CEO, manager or student of management can benefit from.
The Uncommon Leader: March 4, 2020 featuring Vinita Sidhartha, Founder, Kreeda
In the 27th Edition of the Series, we feature Vinita Sidhartha, Founder - Kreeda. Vinita’s is a story of how your Life’s Purpose finds you. After completing her degree in Journalism from the University of Texas, Austin, she ran a content management firm in Chennai for almost a decade. It was when she was researching traditional Indian board games for a project, in 1999, that she fell in love with the games and wanted other people to share the fun. Her Life has never been the same ever since. A series of articles in The Hindu’s Young World section, accompanied by meticulous research, reimagination and astute product development followed over the next three years and finally, in 2002, she launched Kreeda. Over the last 18 years, Vinita has led her venture admirably, focusing intently on preserving and nurturing our cultural heritage. And even as it makes learning and bonding fun for its customers, Kreeda offers the craftspeople, who make the games, a means for gainful employment. What’s remarkable is that Vinita has funded Kreeda organically, often pooling in her earnings from other independent projects that she has led. Today Kreeda has 28 games on offer, including all-time classics like Pallanguzhi, Aadu Puli Aatam and Chaupad. With both retail customers and corporates who invite them to lead workshops, this is a brand that everyone knows and loves. “Perhaps even after I am gone, people will still be playing our traditional games. That makes it completely worthwhile,” says Vinita. Her journey is one of Purpose – of making our traditional games relevant again. Yet it has called for a laser-sharp focus on research, product development, supply-chain management, customer engagement and value creation for a critical stakeholder group – the craftspeople. There are unputdownable lessons from Vinita’s journey that every entrepreneur, business leader, CEO, manager or student of management can benefit from. Listen in as the happynesswalaTM, AVIS Viswanathan, engages her in an interesting Conversation!
The Uncommon Leader: January 8, 2020 featuring K.P.Krishnan, co-Founder, Klachak.com and Captr.in
After a glorious 10-year stint in international sales and marketing, that took him to over 40 countries, K P Krishnan (KP to everyone) came back to India in 2011 to be a photographer. But the fashion and wedding photography scene did not excite him. Instead his sharp entrepreneurial acumen spotted an unstated need in the market: there were far too many talented assistants (to senior photographers) who were unable to launch their careers independently because they did not have the means to acquire expensive photography equipment. Seizing the business opportunity, in 2013, KP co-founded (with his partners) Klachak.com - a one-stop rental portal for all photography equipment and accessories. Today Klachak has 6000 customers across India. Its success led KP to launch Captr.in - a specialist Image Processing Outsourcing service - in 2017. In just two years, Captr has over 600 image processing experts catering to the needs of institutional and retail customers across a diverse spectrum of industries. Between Klachak and Captr, customers can rent cameras, lights and other accessories, shoot images and videos, even rent a studio, and have all their post-production requirements serviced! To be sure, some of the largest online and retail brands operating in India are their customers! And so many, many freelancers have gained access to consistent business opportunities through them. Simply, KP's entrepreneurial offerings have democratized the visual content creation and management space. And this has been achieved with a collective, on-board, team-size of just 30! What KP has done requires an enormous appetite for taking risks, a Vision, and a sense of Purpose to make a meaningful contribution to an industry. What's his inspiration and what are the key entrepreneurial principles that KP lives by? Listen in as the happynesswala, AVIS Viswanathan, engages him in a powerful Conversation. You are sure to glean relevant takeaways.