Interview of Aradhna Agarwal

Interview of Aradhna Agarwal

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CSR Consultant, Orient Bell Limited
Aradhna Agarwal completed her schooling in 1986 from Sophia School, Ajmer; graduation from Sophia College, Ajmer and Post-Graduation in English Literature from IGNOU. She went on to do B’Ed in English and Special English from Annamalai University. Thereafter, she started teaching for about 9 years. She joined Orient Bell Limited in 2006 as Consultant: Special Projects and Community Development. Teaching and interacting with people has been her passion.

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the CSR domain.
I am the project lead for CSR in OBL. This is my third year in this domain. My role is to identify projects where the CSR funds can be most appropriately utilized, think of something innovative and see through the project till completion. As also reach out to the maximum number with our resources.

Before CSR assignment, were you working in any other professional domain, if so, please describe?
Yes, I have always been working. After completing my studies, since I am a Post-Graduate, I was teaching for about 9 years as it gave me a sense of satisfaction and there is no feeling like getting love from the children. My tryst with OBL began with my husband joining in 2004. I began subsequently looking into Horticulture and Recreational Activities for the 70 families residing within the campus. With this informal stint I began my journey formally in 2006.

How has the CSR & sustainability program evolved at your company?
Our management believed that the best way to give back to the society is by inspiring the young and the restless. These impressionable minds could possibly be aided if only they attended school.
While doing my research on government schools, we could see the miserable state they were in. The only way to get children to go back to the school, we had to make it better than their homes. As we kept going ahead with the project it struck us that other than building toilets, repairing classrooms, putting swings in the playground we must do something unique that stands out with the tiles, since we are a tile company. We came up with a whole new series of interactive educational tiles, which would not only make the classrooms attractive but make learning fun for the children.

Tell us about someone (mentor, sponsor, friend, hero) who influenced your CSR & sustainability journey, and how.
Our Chairman, Mr. M.K Daga has been my idol and role model. From the day I joined OBL, I have been learning a lot from him. One of our Directors and The Chairperson of Venus Eye Hospital, Ms. Tanuja Joshi has been a big source of motivation to me. She has given her life serving the underprivileged. Another inspiring role model is Mr. Madhur Daga,seeing his grit and what the mind can conceive, it can achieve.
Our Prime Minister, who selflessly works for the betterment of the country has been a motivator for me. I felt this is the least we could do and Mr. Hiren Joshi, OSD-PMO encouraged me to take this noble initiative forward.

What is the best advice you have ever received?
I received the best advice from a friend who after witnessing what we had done in our first project told me to show it to somebody in the PM’s office as he felt this was a noble idea which should be done on a larger scale and if all the government schools had a facelift similar to this, under privileged children would be getting an infrastructure equivalent to that of city schools.

Can you share a recent accomplishment you are especially proud of in your CSR & Sustainability role?
When we took up the school in Tilbegumpur in Bulandshahar, the classrooms were in a dilapidated state and teachers had to go from house to house as the attendance was very low. After the facelift of the school, our subsequent visits show tremendous change in the attendance. This gives me a sense of accomplishment.

If you had the power to make one major change at your company or in your industry, what would it be?
If I could make that one change in my company, it would be to see each and every child of over 1000 workers going for higher education not just completing school.
As far as the industry goes, it would be nice where each company competed with each other not to grow in terms of ‘Turn Over’ but in terms of ‘Turning Over’ the society where many lives could be touched and we could see the society bloom together into one big beautiful garden.

CSR VISION: Describe your perfect day.
My perfect day starts an early morning meditation followed by a brisk walk with some running which keeps me active and cheerful throughout the day.

‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life’ holds true for me. Plantation is an on-going process in our organization and being a nature lover,I ensure that each sapling grows into a healthy tree. Trying some artistic things in the design process of tiles is a part of my vast hobbies.

My evenings are spent unwinding with music and relaxing with my near and dear.

This is my idea of a perfect day and I believe just the gift of life makes each day perfect.

About the author

CSR VISION is India's (probably World's) first monthly magazine in print devoted to CSR and Sustainable Development for bringing together all stakeholders of SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT at a global and local levels and act as a platform for promoting strategic CSR and sustainable development practices through dissemination of information and knowledge.