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 held in 2019.
The Uncommon Leader: November 13, 2019 featuring Sandhiyan Thilagavathy, Founder & First Volunteer, AWARE
In the 25th Edition of the Series, we feature Sandhiyan Thilagavathy, Founder & First Volunteer, AWARE Sandhiyan's father was a painter and his mother, Thilagavathy, is a housekeeper. She raised him and got him through Engineering school. But after four-and-a-half-years at a software MNC, when he was barely 24, Sandhiyan quit his job to "give back, to make our world a better place". He set up AWARE, first as a social media action group, and then as a full-fledged NGO, that champions gender rights and equality. One of AWARE's most significant Programs is driving social change in Chemmenchery, which is off OMR, where 23 slums evicted from Chennai have been resettled. Through the 5-year Chemmenchery Holistic Community Development Program (started in 2015) AWARE is providing equal education opportunities for children there while making the resettled colony child-friendly, safer for women and gender empowered. Apart from this, AWARE leads three targeted projects 'No More Nirbhaya', 'Safe Active Periods' and 'Save The Smiles' - all of these are promoting gender equality and dignity for girl children/women across Chennai. What transformed Sandhiyan from being just another techie to a Gender Equality Champion? Why does he use his mother's name as his last name? How does he find the funds and the motivation to lead his 40-member team (plus 30 on-call volunteers) with a clear Vision, missionary zeal and a deep sense of Purpose? Listen in as the happynesswala AVIS holds a meaningful Conversation with Sandhiyan. You are sure to take away important and relevant perspectives whether you are a business leader, a manager, a management student or an entrepreneur!
The Uncommon Leader: September 17, 2019 featuring Latha Mohan, Founder and Director- Spalon
When Latha Mohan started her first Kanya salon in December 1981, she did not quite know she was doing something path-breaking. Or even historic! Consider these entry barriers she faced and which she quietly, resolutely, overcame: a. She is a first generation entrepreneur b. She is a woman and c. There was no concept of beauty or personal care salons in India back then, it definitely was not available as a templated business model to learn from. Yet, 38 years on, look at the phenomenal value that Latha has created: her company Spalon operates over 30 salons across south India under the popular Kanya, Oryza and Bounce brands; she's not just pioneered the beauty and personal care business in this part of India, she's brought dignity and professionalism to the space; she's built a thriving chain and grown brand salience - inspiring competitors from both the corporate and non-corporate sectors; she's carefully nurtured stakeholder loyalty - whether it is among her 600 people or her thousands of customers or her partners in the beauty industry. What inspired Latha to set up that first Kanya salon in 1981? How did she, with no management education or corporate experience, create such a significant impact in the business that people today emulate her model? What makes her the sharp, game-changing entrepreneur that she is? Come, listen in as the happynesswala AVIS engages Latha in a powerful Conversation, exploring her thus-far untold story. Whether you are a business leader, a manager, a management student or an entrepreneur, you are sure to take away important and relevant perspectives!
The Uncommon Leader: July 10, 2019 featuring Gita Srikanth, Director and Founder - We CAN
Gita first qualified to be a Chartered Accountant and Company Secretary. But even before she could grow her career in finance and company law related avenues, her friend's child was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Slowly, Gita found herself being "drawn silently by the strange pull" of the world of Autism-affected people and their special needs. She discovered that not only was awareness for this condition low, treatment and management options too were difficult to find.That's how, in 2001, she founded "We Can" - a full-fledged resource centre for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Realizing that she needed to skill herself in the space, she invested all her time and energy in picking up relevant academic degrees and certifications. She now holds a Master's in Applied Behavior Analysis, she's a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (from USA) and was the President of the Association of Behavior Analysis in India. She's also presently working on acquiring a Ph.D in Psychology in the US. Resultantly, "We CAN" (which incidentally stands for "We Challenge Autism Now") has become a truly world-class centre of excellence, where a dedicated 17-member team strives to make Life better and meaningful for its 25 children/adults who have an Autism condition. Gita's story is one of being driven by a Higher Purpose, with a clear Vision and being guided by the Values of compassion and diligence. What has inspired Gita each morning to lead "We CAN" - for 18 years now? How has she kept the focus also on institution-building and value-creation than being led by financial metrics alone? How has "We CAN" created a better world for its most critical stakeholders - people with Autism? the happynesswala AVIS hopes to showcase the key entrepreneurial traits that make Gita an Uncommon Leader by asking her these, and other, questions in this Conversation. Please join us. You are sure to take away important and relevant perspectives, whether you are a business leader, a manager, a management student or an entrepreneur.
The Uncommon Leader: March 12, 2019 featuring Thirupurasundari Sevvel, Architect and Founder, 'Nam Veedu Nam Ooru Nam Kadhai'
In the 22nd Edition of the Series, we feature Thirupurasundari Sevvel, Architect and Founder - 'Nam Veedu Nam Ooru Nam Kadhai' Thirupurasundari Sevvel, Sundari or TS to people who know her, studied Architecture in India and the UK and Urban Planning in France. She leads her boutique Architecture and Urban Planning consultancy, Studio Conclave. In 2013, she founded her not-for-profit initiative, 'Nam Veedu Nam Ooru Nam Kadhai' to 'nurture and preserve the heritage and stories of our neighborhoods'. While working on projects through this initiative, she was deeply concerned about several instances of injustice and lack of collaborative problem-solving among organizations that were engaged in the social development space. So, she has been offering her time and leadership to actively solve, in real-time, several problems that NGOs, social entrepreneurs and charitable institutions have been faced with. She did not see a point in simply running 'yet another NGO'. She believes her Life's Purpose is 'to hold hands with, and when required be the voice of, those who are not believed and who don't get any support for what they are doing'. TS' model is simple: define what the problem is, mobilize the resources (whether it is financial, people-related or communication-driven) and provide the leadership to execute a time-bound solution. AVIS draws learnings from TS' unique experiences in this Conversation. Her efforts over the past decade showcase leadership, creative thinking, problem-solving, collaborative outreach and people management - key entrepreneurial traits. You are sure to take away important and relevant perspectives, whether you are a business leader, a manager, a management student or an entrepreneur.
The Uncommon Leader: January 8, 2019 featuring Ninan Thariyan, CEO, DT Next
In the 21st Edition of the Series, we feature Ninan Thariyan - CEO, DT Next In April 2015, Ninan retired as the regional head for Times of India in Chennai - after 33 eventful years in the media industry. Almost everyone who knew him as the high-performing thought leader in the business believed that Ninan would move to Kochi as part of his post-retirement plan. But a chance meeting that Ninan had with Bala Aditan, who owns the Daily Thanthi Group, resulted in the birth of a daring, game-changing idea: the launch of DT Next, an English morning daily in Chennai! Ninan joined the Daily Thanthi Group as CEO for the new venture in June 2015 and the new daily was launched within 5 months, in November 2015! This move shocked the industry and observers wondered - does Chennai have a market for a fourth English morning daily, is the Daily Thanthi Group capable of delivering a quality product in this space and will Ninan's leadership still pack a punch when he is, well, past his retirement age? But in just 3 years since its launch, DT Next has emerged as the third largest English daily in Chennai - and surely counts as being a very qualitative one! What is the Vision that led to this courageous leap, how has a great team fallen in place, what disruptive ideas has DT Next adopted, how is the content mix so qualitative, and what does this success story tell us about the print vs digital debate? AVIS, the happynesswala, hopes to ask these and other questions and glean unputdownable learnings from the DT Next story in this Conversation with Ninan. Please join us. Whether you are a business leader, a manager, a management student or an entrepreneur, you are sure to take away important and relevant perspectives.