Monday, July 12, 2010

Shadow a CEO

Amongst the many innovative events held to raise resources for charity during the JGW 09, Shadow a CEO would definitely rank as one that combined learning with charity. Owned by the ISB Hyderabad, the event saw students of this prestigious school bid to shadow a CEO of their choice for a day. Twentysix much admired and emulated top corporate leaders willingly participated in this auction that saw 1, 196 bids and raised around Rs6.8 lakhs for charity. Amongst the CEOs who participated were N R Narayana Murthy, Chairman of the Board and Chief Mentor, Infosys Technologies, Adi Godrej, Chairman, The Godrej Group; Deepak Parekh, Chairman, HDFC; K V Kamath, MD & CEO, ICICI Bank; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Chairman and MD, Biocon Ltd.; Kumar Mangalam Birla, Chairman, Aditya Birla Group; and Rajat Kumar Gupta, Chairman, The ISB and Senior Partner Emeritus, McKinsey & Company and many others of equal calibre.

How did this concept work? it is basically very simple; students bid to spend a day with a leader of their choice and the highest bidder spent one day observing and learning with their chosen CEO. The CEO in turn matched the bid made by the student with an equal grant to a previously chosen charity. To use a cliche, it was a win-win situation for all; the student, the charity chosen and the CEO also for as Mr.Narayan Murthy said . he felt very happy that a young, intelligent person with a great future had chosen to spend a day with him. Probed further as to who he would have chosen to spend a day with, Mr. Murthy's reply was Mahatma Gandhi. To quote : "It has to be Mahatma Gandhi, there is absolutely no doubt at all because he is one leader that has had tremendous influence on me. Because of a very simple reason, he led by example. He walked the talk. That has been the corner stone of my philosophy that is how I have conducted myself all these years and meeting Mahatma Gandhi, spending time with him would have been absolutely dream come true for me."

Why would a business school devote time to an event that on the face of it has no monetary value? This is best answered by the Dean of ISB, Ajit Ragnekar when he says that :

“The ISB believes that social responsibility is a vital aspect of doing business and it is this belief that drives us to associate and participate in the Joy of Giving Week through the ‘Shadow a CEO’ programme. We encourage our students to take on socially responsible ventures and use the power of business to improve society.”

This year, the ISB hopes to allow students from other Business schools to participate in Shadow a CEO. When that happens, not only will more learning take place because more students can participate, but resources raised will also multiply especially with generous CEOs like Adi Godrej, who actually doubled the amount bid by an enthusiastic student.

We will keep you posted here on the bidding process and progress for Shadow a CEO during JGW 10.