Ashwin Ajila, iNurture Education Solutions – India’s Transformational Leaders 2019
Decision making is the consequence of several experiences and I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to use my past learnings to frame critical decisions. My experience as a CA from KPMG Peat Marwick, UK helped develop an incisive understanding of the world’s third-largest higher education system which needed to make its students future-ready, thus leading to the genesis of iNurture. The same Corporate-CA’ instincts, helped in earmarking funds with a lot of clarity & precision, and in chiseling a robust & proactive management team. I believe in personal accountability and a results-driven approach and our business model has been built on these values. At the same time having foresight and perseverance ensure that iNurture continues to extend its iconic presence in India and across the globe.
A project or an accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career?
To question the status quo and initiate the visionary iNurture model has been a very satisfying accomplishment. The significance of this is being realized today as the most important challenge that needs to be addressed in India and across the globe is the skilling of university students and making them job ready. This is what we started at iNurture in 2009 and we continue to be leaders in innovating and receiving international appreciation.
How do you integrate corporate philanthropy or corporate social responsibility as a part of your business strategies?
Our effort is to create a healthy, sustainable culture within the organization where each employee is a socially responsible and committed citizen. We undertake several initiatives to influence education across boundaries and within the hinterlands of India.
What has been your driving force or philosophy in life?
Fortune favours the brave, and the brave are the ones who look for opportunities in adverse circumstances!
What are the other philanthropic works you are involved in?
From a personal perspective, I am involved in promotion and evangelizing of education for the masses in India, sports and sporting activities in India.
How do you define success and how do you measure up to your own definition?
Success is the accomplishment of a larger purpose of life. For me, the ability to create a difference in the lives of our young generation has been of paramount importance, this is being imbibed into the DNA of the organization as well.
We are constantly making things better, faster, smarter or less expensive. In other words, we strive to do more with less. Talk about a recent project or solution to a problem that you have made better, faster, smarter or less expensive?
In your opinion what is the most significant aspect of leadership?
My leadership ethos is built around the following:
Enabling people has always helped me achieve higher levels of success in a collaborative manner
I personally believe that “The supreme quality of leadership is unquestionably integrity”, and this is what I instill across the organization
Commitment and passion are aspect of leadership where I lead from the front – when my team see me getting my hands dirty, they are also inspired to give their best
Another belief of mine is “A good leader takes little more than his share of the blame and little less than his share of the credit” – and I make sure that everyone in the organization is accountable for what they do.
The ground level policy of the organization has always been a belief that I hold very strongly for myself – Innovation is what distinguishes between a leader and a follower
Empathy towards the cause of everyone who works in the organization has helped me become closer to my teams and thus have a better grip on their performances as well as their capabilities to achieve greater heights
Your perception of an empowered society. How far your industry has / can contribute for the same?
I believe that empowerment is all about expansion of capabilities of people in a society to participate, influence, confidently take responsibility as well as hold accountable the institutions that affect their lives.
Education is the foundation of societal empowerment and has been from time immemorial. A well-educated society is an empowered society where each participant is able to live a better and happier life among others who are equally enabled! As Nelson Mandela says, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – the key to eliminating gender inequality, to reducing poverty, to creating a sustainable planet, to preventing needless deaths and illness, and to fostering peace.
I have read this somewhere “to cripple a country, you don’t need to arm people with guns and politics, simply reduce the standard of education and the country will collapse”.
One thing you wish to change and one thing you wish to retain about your industry?
An important aspect in the Indian education system that I would like to change would be the pace of change or maturity that is the challenge in the system today. If the industry is able to change and adapt to newer areas of improved practices, then the Indian education system can lead the way for global education.
I would like to retain and increase the collaborative approach in partnering with industry to improve the quality of education. Also, I believe that Universities can benefit from collaborating and partnering with experts in various domains rather than trying to build everything themselves.
One thing you have to let go off as an entrepreneur/leader?
I have had to let go very less in my path of building the organization. I have always done what I believe was the right thing the industry needs and put my passion to work.
Whom do you owe your success to?
I have had a fantastic team to work with and it has been great to reach these milestones together. My family and friends have been the ever supporting framework and always reliable people to go to. The values instilled by my parents and their belief in the right way to do right things has helped me cross difficult times and look at life with a lot of positivity. My wife’s sincere efforts in engendering a favourable milieu around our home has played a crucial role in reinforcing my life purpose.
Best thing about your job?
To get up every morning and go to work knowing that a small effort by us is going to make a huge difference in the lives of others.
A message from you to all the future entrepreneurs/leaders?
I have gone about my work believing that success is not something you dream of – you have to work hard for it, you have to inspire people to work hard on the success for the organization and lead people in the right manner, with compassion as well as accountability.