In Conversation with Vineet Nayar- Founder Chairman, Sampark Foundation & Former Vice-Chairman and CEO, HCL Technologies

By auther pic. CSRBOX

October 20, 2020

Vineet Nayar is Founder Chairman of Sampark Foundation and former CEO of HCL Technologies and author of the highly acclaimed management bestseller, “Employees First, Customer Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down”(Harvard Business Press, June 2010).


A management visionary and radical thinker, Vineet led the transformation of HCL Technologies into one of India’s fastest-growing global information technology service company, which under his leadership grew from a $0.7 billion in 2005 to a $4.7 billion global technology service company with over 85,000 employees across 32 countries by 2013. This radical transformation led Fortune to recognise HCLT as “the world’s most modern management”, while Business Week named HCLT as “one of the world’s most influential companies”. His innovative management practices at HCLT were taught as a case study at both the Harvard Business School and London Business School.


Vineet was chosen by Fortune magazine for its first ever global Executive Dream Team, and also found a place on the elite Thinkers 50 List. His innovative, transformative ideas have received fulsome praise from influencers like late C. K. Prahalad, Tom Peters, Gary Hamel, and Ram Charan.


Vineet quit HCLT in 2013 to focus on Sampark Foundation, which he co-founded with his wife Anupama Nayar, to catalyse ‘large-scale transformation in primary education through frugal innovation’. Today Sampark Foundation is improving learning outcomes among 7 million children studying in 76,000 rural schools across 6 states in India: Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh at less than $1 per child per annum. This large-scale transformation is now a ‘case study’ at Harvard Business School. 


Vineet has been cited by Forbes in its ‘Heroes of Philanthropy List 2016’ and also as a ‘Global Thinker 2016’, along with his wife, by Foreign Policy magazine for ‘unplugging technology so kids can learn’. Vineet joined HCL in 1985 after earning his MBA from XLRI. In 1993, he founded Comnet, a technology start-up, where he developed and put to practice may of the ideas (he later described in his book), transforming it into a multi-billion-dollar business. In 2005, he became president, and in 2007, the CEO of HCL Technologies, where over the next five years, he spearheaded a remarkable turnaround.


Vineet currently serves as a Senior Advisor to ChrysCapital, McKinsey Leadership Institute and many Fortune 1000 companies. He is on the Advisory Board of the Millions Learning project led by the ex-Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gilliard, and has served as Governor of ICT; member of the Global Advisory Board of Women Leaders and Gender Parity Program at the World Economic Forum. And, as a mentor to multiple technology start-ups, he continues to follow his passion of turning conventional management wisdom, upside down.


 In the interview with Deepak Nanda from CSRBOX he shares her views on the following:


1. How are you using your professional expertise to solve the critical issue in the country and what importance do you attribute to frugal innovation in complementing it?


2. What was it about the domain of Education that motivated you to work in it? Is there a personal motivation behind the decision?


3. Sampark Foundation today has reached out to over 7 million kids in 76000+ schools, making it the world’s largest primary school transformation initiatives by a Foundation. How do you plan to expand it further and cater to millions of kids in the country that still struggle with access to a proper education?


4. With COVID having hampered every educational institution and intervention, how do you intend to keep your programs afloat?


5. Apart from access to education, what are the other aspects as per you that can be looked into to improve the learning outcomes either by changing conventions or improving them?


6. What are some of the areas that you intend to work in and support as an extension of education or otherwise?



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