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Connecting The Development Sector

Either You Succeed or You Learn – Priya Kapadia, Head of the Foundation, Marico Innovation Foundation

GoBarefoot, a professional networking platform exclusively catering to the Development sector, by facilitating connections and exchange of ideas and information, has collaborated with Katalyst India and Third Sector Partners to present “Leadership Conversations in the Development Sector”, a series of insightful interviews conducted by Shital Kakkar Mehra, India’s leading executive presence coach and Founder at GoBarefoot. Featuring seasoned and reputed leaders from various verticals of the social sector, the series offers a peek behind the scenes and helps viewers find answers to the most pressing questions facing the sector.

As an organization focused on helping entrepreneurs scale up their enterprises, Marico Innovation Foundation is unique in its approach towards mistakes and failures. According to Priya Kapadia, Head of the Foundation, MIF, “There was a high fear of failure in our generation. Failure was not allowed so we did not try different things or take risks. However, today, failure is a word that is rarely used. In our Chairman’s words, either you succeed or you learn. People today are optimistic and willing to learn from their failures.” She added that we should be cognisant about learning from our mistakes and not repeating them. 

Leadership journey 

I have remained a learner throughout the journey, and I follow the build, operate, transfer model in everything I do. I did not stay in a sector for more than 4 years and, when I transitioned to MIF, I gave myself 6 months, but it has been 9 years now. Innovation is in the DNA of Marico, and I have relearned a lot. Throughout my journey, I met many people, was forced to unlock typecasts and moved from I know it to I don’t know whether I know it. Thinking differently and ensuring you stay relevant and useful to the overall ecosystem is my major learning. Searching for new things and understanding that we don’t know it all are aspects which define great leaders. 

Pushing everyone we work with, towards innovation and getting people to think differently is my leadership mantra. As a leader, you must Believe that your team knows how to answer the questions, with some guidance and support from your experience. Leaders should be open to change and evolve with time, rather than believing that what you create should be the be all and end all. Empowerment involves delegation with responsibility.

Motivational factors

I believe that either you are passionate or you shouldn’t be in the field. New ideas, new conversations, interesting ways of doing things, rolling up your sleeves and learning and soaking in things from the youth – these are things that motivate me. Empathy is also very important for leaders. If you bring in your best every day, it is contagious. For young entrepreneurs and rising stars, it is important to stay purposeful. Be malleable for change is the only constant. Do what you enjoy doing and continue adding value to yourself, your family and the nation at large.

Mentorship at Marico Innovation Foundation

While we offer 3 programmes, the most popular one is SCALE-UP, where we work with entrepreneurs for 3 to 4 years, and help them to scale up from 1 crore to 100 crores. The organisations we support are now doing really well. We are mentoring 18 organisations at present, and plan to work with 30 by next year. We work very closely with the entrepreneurs to solve challenges, in a very systemic manner, at a functional level while also focusing on strategic positioning. It is a very deep form of mentorship and we expect full-fledged commitment from the entrepreneurs. 

We work with organisations focused on innovation and look for companies which are adding value to the country and solving a deep-rooted social issue. There is a huge distinction between advising and mentoring. A mentor tells you what to do, how to do it, and how to measure the impact. They also teach you how to solve problems in the future, without relying on the mentor. Mentors should be emotionally invested in your journey and that is what we do at MIF. 

Read our previous conversation with Sudarshan Suchi, CEO, Save the Children here.

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