Joy of Giving: Mentor-Menteeship

PwC India Foundation did an exclusive interview with SSE India fellow Anirudh and IFS Senior Director Swati Agarwal to share a snippet of their journey together as a mentor and mentee with SSE India

Anirudh Gaurang is a 30 year old dentist from Telangana. He founded a for-profit social enterprise aimed at making healthcare more accessible to all with the focus on rural/semi-urban markets and the geriatric population. The journey started through a personal experience of inadequacy in the healthcare service. He also witnessed first-hand inadequacies within rural India during his posting as a doctor.

Swati Agarwal is a Senior Director at PwC and has been in the firm for more than 15 years. She has performed several roles in the organisation from Management Consulting to working in the COO’s office. She is currently part of the Territory Senior Partner’s office and is responsible for defining and driving PwC India’s strategic priorities.

Rendezvous with Swati

PwC IF: What is a need of a mentor?

Swati: As we grow, we are surrounded by a strong support system comprising of our close family and friends. This ecosystem provides us with a natural environment to seek and get guidance and support though our formative years…

But as we become older and step into the professional world, the earlier ecosystem can provide us with limited support. It is this need which a mentor fulfils. A mentor is someone who provides an unbiased sounding board and perspective.

PwC IF: What interested you to become a mentor to SSE India’s fellow?

Swati: SSE has a unique concept where young, self-motivated individuals are striving to make a difference to the society at large. My interest in the field of health and education as well as my desire to give back to the society made me interested in providing mentor support to these social entrepreneurs.

PwC IF: Why did you choose social entrepreneurs?

Swati: These social entrepreneurs are key to innovative solutions and future growth of our nation. This entrepreneurial explosion particularly in the social space will change the face of our nation going forward.

Having said that, the life of a social entrepreneur is stressful and lonely as many times society, friends, family, spouse etc. are unable to understand or support them. This isn’t conducive for their personal or professional growth. I strongly believe that the availability of a mentor will provide them a much needed anchor, who can hold them steady in trying times.

PwC IF: How has been your experience so far?

Swati: I truly believe that a mentor-mentee relationship is a two way street. My experience of mentoring Anirudh has been mutually enriching to say the least. He reinforces my confidence and pride in the youth of this nation, which has clarity of thought to pursue their ambitions.

PwC IF: What do you feel about Anirudh as a social entrepreneur?

Swati: Anirudh is not only young and educated, but highly self-motivated with the grit to chase his dreams. He is a positively determined and resilient person. He is clear about his vision and mission towards his enterprise, and with his hard work is sure to achieve greater heights.

His social enterprise that aims to provide affordable healthcare to all sections of society is most relevant for our country. As he scales up and as other social entrepreneurs join this space it is sure to go a long way in uplifting our nation.  

PwC IF: What has been your most joyful experience as a mentor?

Swati: As I mentioned it is always a pleasure to interact with Anirudh and each conversation with him in enriching in many ways. One distinct memory that I have of my experience in mentoring Anirudh is of him openly sharing his concerns and challenges on a professional and personal front. He was extremely concerned about the future of his enterprise, to the point of losing sleep.

At this point, I asked him to focus on the positives and look at what was going well… As we started plotting the positives we realised that in the current state Anirudh’s enterprise was already, positively touching the lives of many thousands of people in rural and semi-rural areas… I could see Anirudh instantly feeling energised and upbeat about his venture.

Sometimes you just need another perspective and the mentor helps provide just that…

A peek from Anirudh’s side

PwCIF: What do you feel about mentorship?

Anirudh: Each one of us are surrounded by friends and family but we sometimes don’t receive an objective view or perspective. Family and friends can sometimes cloud one’s thoughts as they bring in their own biased perspectives. Sometimes, they can be supportive, and at times be restrictive. Mentorship from someone who understands you and is ready to invest their time and energy is extremely crucial.

PwCIF: Do you think mentorship is helpful?

Anirudh: I feel a social entrepreneur is lonely in his journey and the presence of a mentor just smoothens the rough path he/she is on. In India, where doing good only means donating - it is important to have someone who listens to you non-judgmentally.

I was very nervous and anxious to know that I will have a mentor and feared what our interactions would be like. But interacting with Swati outside the formal boundaries allowed me to feel comfortable and approach her. Her presence has been helpful for me grow better as an entrepreneur.

I can confidently say that a mentor means no harm. They are like a sounding board, bringing their experience and learning to offer a hand of support. To me, Swati has brought in a much needed emotional support. Especially when one is experiencing extreme pressure, support from parents is limited, our future begins to look bleak - I started doubting my own self. Her presence is actually very important, making me more positive towards my enterprise.

PwCIF: How has your experience been with Swati?

Anirudh: Swati helped me calm down when I was worried about my enterprise. She sincerely invests her time, asks questions - lead me to become cognizant of reality. She is an integral part of our journey. My enterprise is a lifelong commitment and hence her support is extremely appreciated. It is in the utmost hour of need that her presence has brought significant changes in me as a person and a professional.

What I really like is that she feels connected to my enterprise, she listens to me without any judgement and helps to bring out a positive person in you.

In my opinion, the time and energy that a mentor invests in us is irreplaceable. I will be grateful to Swati for being – for bringing invaluable joy to me.

Contact us

Jaivir Singh

Jaivir Singh

Vice Chairman
PwC India Foundation

Tel: + 91 124 4620114

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