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CORPORATE ACTIVISM

HARI HEGDE
Global Head of Operations and Business, WIPRO Limited
Participant at the DELHI OPPORTUNITY PANEL

“You need abundant curiosity and must look beyond the apparent.” That is Hari’s recipe for turning a risk into an opportunity. “It is about your ability to look into the future, connect trends, and use the same forces that work against you to your advantage.” In brief, being a successful opportunity leader is about “shaping your future strategy to leverage those emerging risks.”

BEYOND CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY
As Head of Operations at Wipro, a global IT company based in Bangalore, Hari appears to live and breathe this philosophy. He prompted the Karnataka State Water Network to improve the water situation in his city, implemented energy efficiency in all of Wipro’s productions, and worked
to improve urban mobility in Bangalore, together with local authorities, to the benefit of his own employees. “If I can get 20 percent more of our employees into a better-serviced public transportation system, that is 7,000 vehicles off the road; benefits in decongestion, opportunity in reduced parking, higher productivity, and so on is far beyond what you are investing.” In all of these cases, the initiative started as a means of mitigating risks, but as soon as he explored the solutions available, “that’s when opportunities of a much greater magnitude emerged.”

Hari sees himself as part of a wider development in a globally connected world. With new technologies and social media, people have the means to be heard and get involved. “Businesses don’t exist in isolation; they exist in societies,” he explains. And so, it is only right for businesses to get active. “It is beyond the typical corporate social responsibility. I think we left that far behind. We are talking about how you actively participate in a sustainable world
and how by doing good business you also do good to the planet. That is the idea. I might even take the liberty of calling it corporate activism.”

THE INEVITABILITY OF INNOVATION
This activism appears to come naturally to Hari. With every investment he is involved in, he asks himself if this is an opportunity to create a model that can become a self-regenerating
force multiplier. “That is what drives me, and that’s what bothers me. Not to let go of opportunities and to make a difference. Every opportunity I do not make use of, is an opportunity I have lost.”

This approach, according to Hari, is a self-evident consequence of simple awareness about the state of our planet. “I call it the inevitability of innovation,” he says. “If you look at sustainability and what needs to be done, it is not rocket science. Much of it is simple things. It is a shift in our thinking process that is needed. Doing more with less is just a shift in the way you think. The way we work today is not going to work forever.”

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