By Rusen Kumar and Dr Rana Singh
NEW DELHI: Sameer Gupta is Chairman and Managing Director (CMD) at Jakson Group, one of the India’s leading and diversified power companies. His leadership and technology insight have strengthened Jakson’s culture of innovation and expanded the company into new markets with a customer oriented product portfolio, value added services with global presence. He led the group to embrace the tenets of sustainable development and environmental protection. He also serves as the Chairman for IGBC Lucknow Chapter.
In conversation with India CSR Network, Sameer Gupta said, Sustainability is one of the core tenets of Jakson’s corporate culture and the company is constantly investing in sustainable practices. He believes that as a business, it is our responsibility to give back to the community and contribute towards nation building. Without advanced communities and a strong nation, no business can sustain over the long term. He says, “Without advanced communities and a strong nation, no business can sustain over the long term.” Edited Excerpts:
What goals have you set for CSR and Sustainability?
Jakson’s CSR philosophy is derived from an old Chinese proverb “You give a poor man a fish and you feed him for a day. You teach him to fish and you give him an occupation that will feed him for a lifetime”. At Jakson, we believe that a holistic approach to CSR is essential to ensure tangible upliftment of communities we work in. It is this belief that drives all our CSR programs that operates primarily in three key areas – skill development, education, and healthcare.
Bhawana’s Anugrah, our skill development program for young adults not just provides free industry focused training programs to young adults but also provides them with suitable employment opportunities within Jakson. Smitham, our education program provides high quality education to children low income families by improving quality of education and infrastructure of government schools. We believe that with good education, these young children can significantly better their lives. Diipti and Jeevan, our healthcare initiatives work in the areas of eye care and cancer care. By providing financial assistance, we help people overcome healthcare challenge and lead a healthy life.
Sustainability is one of the core tenets of Jakson’s corporate culture and the company is constantly investing in sustainable practices. Our CSR initiatives are designed to be sustainable programs. On business side, our diversification into solar business is a testament of this belief. Our LEEDS certified Platinum rated green building, which houses our corporate headquarters and our hotel is another such example. It is designed to efficiently manage natural resources like rain water harvesting, waste water treatment, naturally day lighted interiors, occupancy sensors and efficient lighting arrangements. The building also has a solar PV rooftop installation that generates electricity to meet energy requirements of the building.
We are also trying to develop a culture of socially and environmentally responsibility within the organization by regularly organizing knowledge sharing workshops for our employees in partnership with leading social and environmental NGOs.
How do you encourage creative thinking at work place?
We encourage creative thinking with a collaborative work culture across the organization. There is transparency and we have fostered work culture of open communication. The teams are encouraged to be creative and innovative. We have learned to manage conflicts in an objective driven manner. All company-wide decisions are taken after consultation and discussions with concerned members of the respective teams.
What makes you passionate about social work?
More you meet people across the world and across the segments, you realise the blessings you have from this universe. The feeling of delight that one can get by contributing positively to somebody’s life itself is so gratifying. Moreover, as a business I think it is our responsibility to give back to the community and contribute towards nation building. Without advanced communities and a strong nation, no business can sustain over the long term.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
My father Satish Kumar Gupta, presently Chairman Emeritus of Jakson Group has and continues to have a significant impact in my life. He has also been my role model and mentor.
Visionary thinking, business acumen, strong business ethics and responsibility towards society are some of his qualities that have always inspired me. He has led by example and imbibed in us the value in simple living and high thinking. He played an instrumental role in establishing Jakson and building it as one of the leading brands in the country in the power sector. Even today, he continues to guide me and my brother Sundeep Gupta, Vice-Chairman & Managing Director, Jakson Group.
What is the most important decision you have made recently?
Jakson’s diversification into two new business areas – Solar and EPC Contracting and Defence was the most significant decision we have made recently. The decisions were taken amidst uncertainties and turmoil in the global economy. Although Jakson has been in the power industry for close to 70 years, the plunge taken in the above new business areas had its own challenges. I am happy that the diversification into new businesses have worked really well and have contributed significantly to our business growth.
Do you lead from intuition?
An intuitive decision making is an important element of leadership. However, all management decisions cannot be taken solely on intuition. It has to be exercised with caution and backed by credible facts, data and past experience.
How do you react to criticism?
I don’t react at all unless necessary. I chose to remain silent. However, if the criticism hampers my personal reputation or the reputation of my company, I might present my side of the story. Thankfully, till date I have not faced such a situation.
What type of recreational activities do you enjoy?
I am fond of travelling and would like to experience the globe. I enjoy music particularly old Bollywood songs, Ghazals and Sufi music. Over recent past, I have been trying to invest my time in reading on subjects of leadership and spirituality.
What steps do you take to motivate others?
Listening to others be it family, friends or employees motivate and encourage people to share. It is all about winning trust, being transparent, and most importantly being honest. I would encourage listening to others and giving very straightforward, candid and honest suggestions and feedback.
What is your perception about Government of India’s emphasis on CSR?
Even before the new CSR legislation came into force, a lot of large corporates were already contributing significantly to CSR initiatives. The new regulations are indeed a welcome step and contribute significantly to nation building and economic growth of the nation. However, I feel that lot more awareness on the subject needs to be created and perhaps larger organizations can mentor SMEs of the Country by handholding and making them appreciate the feel of joy of giving.
According to you, what is biggest social challenge that need to be addressed urgently through CSR?
I think skill development and primary education are two big social issues that need urgent attention. It is a known fact that our education system produces a lot of educated youngsters who are not industry ready. It is therefore important to skill these youngsters so that they are industry ready and can be readily assimilated with jobs in the new economy.
Primary education is another important are that needs urgent attention. Without proper education, the next generation will be impoverished and poverty will continue to remain an endemic problem in India.