Are we mad enough to change the world? 

Workers remove scaffolding from a replica of planet earth after repairs at Science City in Ahmedabad, India, July 29, 2016.REUTERS/Amit Dave

Angry, passionate or unorthodox – what bold actions can we take for a better future? Image: REUTERS/Amit Dave

CP Gurnani
Managing Director and CEO, Tech Mahindra
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This article is part of: World Economic Forum Annual Meeting
  • What would happen if companies drove business profitability through sustainability?
  • Mental health problems could cost the global economy $16 trillion between 2010 and 2030. Business leaders could address this by putting wellness before business.
  • Using technology to create new opportunities for humans to perform tasks that are more valuable will help the workforce adapt to the technological change of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

When I heard Greta Thunberg’s speech at the UN Climate Action Summit, I thought, how can someone be this mad for the environment? She exemplifies why you don’t have to be in a position of power to bring about a change in the world; your will to bring change is your biggest power.

In August this year, we banned all single-use plastics from our Tech Mahindra campuses overnight. In just 24 hours, we collected more than 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds) of disposable plastics. The overwhelming participation of our global teams in our #DontBePlastic campaign, makes me ask: are we mad enough to fall in love with our world?

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Sustainability is not beyond business; it is the core of business. With a purpose to be sustainable, our company is focused on responsible business growth by enhancing operational eco-efficiency. We’re committed to reducing our absolute scope 1 and 2 GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions by 22% by 2030 and 50% by 2050. Approved by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), this gives us a clear roadmap to optimize our carbon footprint and enables us to move towards a low-carbon economy that will reduce future climate change risks. Are we mad enough to drive business profitability through sustainability?

Mental health problems could cost the global economy $16 trillion between 2010 and 2030. The largest problem today is anxiety with 284 million people around the world suffering from this globally. More than 50% of the world’s working population spends substantial time at work and a healthy workforce is vital to any organization. In this vein, in 2015, we committed to wellness for all – not just for our associates but for the community, government, customers and beyond. Since then 50 cities have adopted our wellness programme and four international airports have joined our movement. We now see 30 Fortune 500 companies’ executives immersed in holistic yoga and our programmes have touched more than 100,000 families since launch. We realized that the physical, mental and emotional health of communities are critical to our future and there is so much more to be done. Are we mad enough to put wellness before business?

Global prevalence of anxiety disorders
Global prevalence of anxiety disorders

Nature shows us that ecosystems can develop through collaboration and not competition; when we share the same goals, together is a wonderful place to be. With this mindset, we have collaborated with 400 corporate executives to launch the Efficacy Index. With our research partner WSJ Custom Studios, we created a unique survey to help enterprises benchmark their digital transformation. Are we mad enough to put collaboration before competition?

Our company is focused on 5G-led innovation to enable digital transformation for our customers globally. We are enabling AT&T to modernize its IT network and shared systems and shift to the Cloud. Our technology-led transformation will help the telecom giant improve its agility in rolling out and supporting the networks of the future. To make a 5G-enabled future a reality, we’ve also set up an innovation lab in Finland. Developed in partnership with Business Finland, the facility will foster research and development in 5G and 6G technology. This technology is a real game-changer; it’s not only aimed at the consumer but will also influence how enterprises will work. Are we mad enough to transform with technology?

Anticipated reskilling needs of employees 2018-2022
Anticipated reskilling needs of employees 2018-2022

Half of India’s 4 million engineers need new skills. The blatant reality is if we don’t upskill or re-skill we will become irrelevant to our own future. Upskilling will enable growth for enterprises, individuals and even countries. Our #UaaS (Upskilling as a Service) platform is helping more than 65,000 associates learn and leap into the future. Are we mad enough to make our organization, industry and country’s workforce fit for the future?

I believe the future will be far more human than we imagine. At its heart will be a beautiful convergence of physical and digital experiences. Consumers will buy from those with a purpose with which they can empathize. As such, we will need to be madly in love with the purpose we stand for. Tech Mahindra stands for being a sustainable enterprise that delivers meaningful connected experiences and if this means disrupting the status quo, so be it. Are we mad enough to disrupt?

As technology continues to reshape traditional responsibilities across industries, the future will be powered by human empathy and robotic efficiency. The question is not about how dependent we are on technology; it is about how well we can use technology to create new opportunities for humans to perform tasks that are more valuable. We are creating a humans-first future. With artificial intelligence (AI), we are making machines develop the human trait of empathy because that's what makes us feel connected. Are we mad enough to humanize AI?

The very essence of humanity is encapsulated in the idea of individual social responsibility (ISR). For us at Tech Mahindra, ISR is also a way of life. Our young software engineer Tejasvi Podapati doing phenomenal work in cleaning up her hometown in Andhra Pradesh, India, inspires me. With more than 1,000 volunteers supporting the cause, her will to bring about a change has now turned into a movement. Are we mad enough to change the world around us?

Are we mad enough to be changemakers?

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