During my early days as a social entrepreneur, I had a business partner from UK. She often spoke about her weekly mentoring sessions with one of her directors at her previous job. In a way I felt, her mentoring was one thing that kept her motivated and on track. I was a bit sad that the concept of mentoring did not even exist here in India.
Whenever I was stressed about work and wanted to share how I feel about certain things with friends and family, I would get typical reactions like – ‘Business is not for women’ or ‘get married first and then you can do all this social work'. In a world where there are only two career paths, service or business, social enterprise was always perceived as social service. I did not want to worry my mother with the issues I faced bringing my social enterprise to life. I often felt alone and without a guiding support.
So one can understand how happy I would have been when I got a mentor in Mukesh Deshpande, Director, PwC India, through SSE India’s Social Start-Up Fellowship.
While we were in the same region, we were still not able to meet regularly. So Mukesh made it a point to come online early mornings - a day every month to spend time to hear me out and discuss any challenges that I face.
I have reached out to him for opinions on various issues such as my business model, marketing strategy, my relationship with my co-founder, etc. He never gave me answers but asked questions. His questions were simple yet thought provoking which led me to solve my challenges at work. When asked for, I also received constructive feedback from him. All I had to do was to ask.
The second half of the past year was a challenging time. My business partner and I were undergoing a transition from a legal entity towards a social enterprise to ensure it created a better social impact. Mukesh, of course, offered his expertise but also connected me to the right people in his network. For me, that was a great sign of his commitment in supporting me and my enterprise.
I found that the mentoring experience provided me with a strong support system to grow both personally and professionally. I’d like to express my gratitude to Mukesh for being a mentor in this journey of mine.
PwC India Foundation
Tel: + 91 124 4620114