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  who's who >> Ingrid Srinath

Ingrid Srinath – More than a transient mark

By Jayagovind C V

Following a B.A. in Economics and Statistics from Elphinstone College, Mumbai in 1984, Ingrid did her PGDM from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta where she graduated in 1986 (21st batch). She worked in Account Management at Lintas (now Lowe) and Trikaya (now Grey) till 1998 when she joined CRY – Child Relief and You. She is currently Director – Resource Mobilisation, CRY’s analogue of Marketing and Sales. In recognition of CRY’s expertise in this area, Ingrid was appointed a Senior Fellow of the Synergos Institute, New York in 2003. She is also a member of the Complaints Committee of the Advertising Standards Council of India.

What motivated you into working in an NPO after your career with Lintas?

Mostly boredom, I must confess. After over 12 years in advertising with Lintas and Grey, I found myself doing more and more of the same, getting paid more, carrying a different visiting card, driving a different car etc. but almost sleepwalking through the job. My quest for more “meaning” or “significance” (people who know me might call it megalomania) required me to do something that left a less transient mark.

What major differences do you find between working as a manager in a profit-driven organisation and a non-profit organisation?

Fundamentally the job is similar. Working conditions and remuneration are obviously nowhere near the for-profit sector. The shortage of qualified personnel often times results in a need to micro-manage to a much higher degree in the non-profit sector. And the culture and ethos necessitate a more democratic management style that can slow the pace of decision-making and change. On the plus side though, one can enjoy higher levels of autonomy, new learning, greater job satisfaction and feel more comfortable within one’s skin at the end of the day.

Why has the business world become so concerned about their social responsibility image in the recent past?

Factors currently influencing the growth in corporate social responsibility in my view are:

§ The realisation that ultimately corporate growth is tied to the economic welfare of the wider majority.

§ A search for corporate stature and respectability beyond mere financial results.

§ The influence of global corporate policies in MNCs and the consequent demonstration effect or peer pressure on their Indian counterparts.

§ A genuine need to perform one’s corporate citizenship role better.

The prevalence of these varies widely across industries and organizations and there are still some who are merely seeking short-term market or image gain.

Does the Government have a role to play in bringing about social responsibility for the business world?

Absolutely. Especially through the use of financial incentives for socially responsible corporate behaviour and the in facilitating dialogue between the sectors. However, we do need to guard against the trend of government shirking its core responsibilities through insidious attempts at privatisation of education, health and other social services. While the corporate sector, like the non-profit sector can and must do its fair share and help improve the quality and efficiency of social services, global experience proves that fundamental accountability and responsibility for provision of these services must remain that of the State if all citizens are to enjoy equal opportunity.

What can be done to channelize the management capabilities fostered in India for the social benefit of the nation?

Paradoxically, most of us can do as much, if not more in our corporate jobs than by actually joining the non-profit sector by ensuring that the organizations we work with are responsible employers, users of public resources, investors, marketers, lobbyists and the like. Providing non-profit expertise, financial and material resources and access to customers, employees and shareholders are some of the other ways corporates can make a tangible difference. Some guaranteed exposure to the social sector, as either, a part of one’s management education, or early working life would also be a huge step in the right direction.