rediff.com

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  

Rediff News  All News 
Rediff.com  » Getahead » The CEO who does not have Monday morning blues

The CEO who does not have Monday morning blues

Last updated on: April 19, 2011 17:04 IST

The CEO who does not have Monday morning blues

     Next

Next
Lajwanti Dsouza

Abodh Aras, a graduate from Institute of Technology Management (ITM), Mumbai, is today Chief Executive Office (CEO) of one of Mumbai's famous NGOs, The Welfare of Stray Dogs (WSD).

And the bigger disparity is that Abodh did not have a single stint with an NGO while in b-school, nor did he sit through any guest 'social service' speakers. "Unlike today, there were fewer NGOS the days when I did my business schooling so the orientation had to come from within. And anyway, no school or lecture can make you want to work for a social cause," says Abodh, now in his 30s.

Incidentally, WSD caters to sick and injured stray and abandoned animals. At its kennel in Mahalaxmi, the animals, mostly dogs are sterilised, treated and nursed back to good health and kept back on the streets from where they are picked up regularly.

The Corporate bit

On graduation from ITM in 1996 with a Marketing specialisation, Abodh got placed in DHL as a management trainee. Within a few months, he was made Assistant Customer Services Manager and soon later, the Sales Manager. He was put in charge of an entire business unit in South Mumbai. "I loved every bit of working for DHL. The company was good, I was paid well and I got a lot to learn. There was of course lot of work and so much of networking between different units and processes. I understood so much about how businesses are run at the basic level. I learnt practically how when all basic processes fall in place, the bigger company functions smoothly," the WSD CEO adds.

PaGaLGuY.com is India's biggest and most trusted MBA preparatory resources website, using technology, community and high quality content to empower the MBA aspirant community.


Image: The Welfare of Stray Dogs CEO Abodh Aras with stray dogs
Photographs: Pagalguy.com
     Next

The CEO who does not have Monday morning blues

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

Inner calling

However, even while working for DHL or earlier studying at ITM, Abodh had begun volunteering with the WSD. That meant spending every holiday and Sundays with sick and injured animals, treating them, driving them to hospitals, attending to animal distress calls from the public. So between completing his b-school assignments and later managing huge corporate teams, Abodh always had the time for WSD.

Over time, seeing ill animals recuperate gave Abodh a different sense of joy, which beat any previous experience. "Animals have a way of reciprocating love that is so different. Their love is totally unconditional. The bond one forms with animals, even though strays, is out of the world. When an animal licks you and wags his tail seeing you, it feels like the world," confesses Abodh. After years of dedicated volunteering, sometime in 2000, WSD made Abodh an offer to join the NGO.

"I just could not refuse. WSD realised I was serious and I had given the impression of wanting to work there, so when they asked me, I was delighted."

Transition

So was the transition from corporate to social service smooth? "Yes of course, all the more since I wanted it. I enjoyed DHL thoroughly but I knew that in my heart the animal world is where I wanted to be." However, once in WSD and staring at the real world of stray animals, it pained Abodh to see that so many people in and around Mumbai abandoned animals they did not want anymore. "From German Shepherds, to Doberman, Labradors, we have rescued every kind of pedigree animal from the streets. I always thought pets were family members, so how do people just abandon family members on the streets," asks Abodh.

The WSD CEO, since childhood had cats at his home, many rescued from different places.



Prev     Next

The CEO who does not have Monday morning blues

Prev     Next
Prev

Next

On the new job

Last 11 years with the NGO, Abodh has brought in much life and zeal into the organisation. While earlier Abodh only volunteered, today he does much more. From planning new programmes to working out different marketing initiatives, his day is pretty much packed. "I attend meetings with WSD management, with outside agencies for marketing WSD since garnering funds is an important function. I go around the city, looking for sick animals, oversee our first aid and sterilisation programmes and I also liaison with municipal officials."

However in all the din of so many jobs, Abodh has never ever stopped volunteering work. "That's basic leg work and one has to do it to be in touch with reality. In DHL too, I learnt the job and business by going on the field with the courier guys. Only immense ground work has made be capable of taking good leadership decisions. You can't become a leader or CEO unless you have gone through a thorough grind. That's when you get to be in a position to teach others too. And all this, one does not learn in books and schools, one learns only on the job," the CEO says.

Corporate miss

So does Abodh miss the glitter of corporate life? "I do everything that I would have done if I was working with a corporate. My life is as busy. Just that now, I also terribly love what I do. I have friends in the corporate world who envy me because while they earn more, I am the happier person." He adds: "Corporate people always talk about working long hours but for me, I don't know when my day starts or ends. I work all seven days, so I never have Monday morning blues."

As CEO, Abodh takes decisions for his NGO, he has teams of people under him and he is directly responsible for the growth of the NGO. The company has 30 employees and about 150 vlunteers. Abodh also travels. From attending workshops and taking lectures on Volunteer Management in Singapore to talking on issues like Public Outreach in China, Abodh gets to live every bit of a corporate CEO's life. If not travelling abroad, Abodh travels extensively across India and even in Mumbai. "We regularly take workshops in schools and colleges about animal welfare and first aid. It is best that children are given the necessary orientation early in life," says Abodh.


Photographs: Rajesh Karkera/Rediff.com
Prev     Next

The CEO who does not have Monday morning blues

Prev     More
Prev

More

Love and life

Abodh earns a few thousands but he has never worked for money. He admits that having a family house in Mumbai and a wife  in the corporate field helps him live his passion better. The WSD CEO is all praise for his wife Maya Menezes who is also an MBA graduate from ITM and has a high profile corporate job. The two fell in love at ITM and stalled marriage for almost a decade so that both were settled in their individual careers.

"My wife and I both realised a long time ago that she would be the real earning person in the house so we kept marriage on hold till we were comfortable to be able to run our house. It's only when I knew that I could devote enough time for my passion and we could still manage, we took the plunge." Abodh and Maya finally married in November 2006.

Funnily,  Maya is a  little scared of dogs but she does so much for the dogs and WSD that it more than makes up. "She stands outside stalls selling stuff for WSD, she is out in the sun volunteering for all WSD activities and she is my support in everyway," says Abodh with a huge smile.

Why MBA

So why did Abodh do an MBA? He could have still been part of WSD without an MBA tag. "But everything I have learnt in my b-school I am putting into practise here. From planning to strategising, working in teams, researching for a new venture to negotiating, training the new members and  marketing. Taking important financial decisions, calculations, falling back on various theories that I learn in b-school, it all comes of help at WSD," answers Abodh.  

The young CEO is also credited for pushing the First Aid programmes in a big way at WSD. Today the NGO conducts various workshops on the subject and is actively involved in imparting the knowledge to different groups. One of Abodh's serious challenges constitute the municipal body's constant pressure to start killing strays in the city and NGOs like WSD thwarting the move every time.

And all this only proves on thing -- that either you have the fire in you to join an NGO or not. No amount of  NGO stints can get anyone interested in social work and the issue is never about choosing corporate over NGOS or vice-versa. You have to have the heart and mind to be part of an NGO. You have to take that one conscious decision not to be part of a world where prosperity means the pay packet at the end of the month but it means nursing an injured bird back to good health and seeing it fly into the clouds.


Image: WSD volunteers at the Mumbai Marathon

Prev     More