A lot of people have made peace with the idea that their professional life may not always align with their purpose, values or passion. Most people usually adjust to a job that enables them to pay the bills while accepting that they may never have the chance to live their passion. So for most of us, pursuing our passion is limited to weekends and vacations.
“If your purpose does not meet your work, you will never be happy and will always be struggling”
After having worked for seven years and gaining experience in corporate organizations, Kushal Mazumdar felt something was missing in his life. There was a void and he did not know how to fill it. He was keen to find his ikigai (reason for being) and feel energized to get out of bed every morning. One thing Kushal was sure that his work must align with his passion and purpose. He wanted to live with a sense of completeness. The big pull was an opportunity to work towards social impact and he took that leap – and today he has no regrets. The vision & purpose of the social organizations he worked with added meaning to Kushal’s life and gave him a sense of fulfillment, pride, and drove him on to make a greater impact.
A Chartered Accountant by qualification, he was often asked how he could add value to the social sector. Convention dictated that you must be on the ground, hands-on, to make that impact. General perception was that only activists and NGOs were empowered to create impact or change at the grass roots level, and that is where Kushal thought differently – he believed that while he will always support from behind the scenes, he will strive to do it well. Visibility was not important to Kushal, the quality of contribution was! He was excited to use his professional competency, structured approach, business knowledge and strategic thinking to enhance the capability of the organization to deliver quality results. He challenged a few fundamental questions – how can you stretch funds to impact more people? How can you make best use of tight budgets and resources to get the maximum dollar for your rupee? How can you sustain donor trust through best in class internal controls? Understanding the business side of it is what gave him the edge in implementing plans.
“The purpose and impact of the work in my workplace added meaning to my life. I was like an energised electron charged up to make things happen”, remembering his days with PLAN where he got the opportunity to work with the best minds in the development sector. He cannot imagine anything else being as interesting, challenging, exhilarating and rewarding as some of the jobs he has had.
Kushal is a collaborative, inclusive leader. For him “Us” means more than “I”. According to him, “When things go right, and you walk away with the feeling – for some people, somewhere, the world is a better place because of something you did. That is tremendously powerful and motivating”, and this is what keeps Kushal going.
While Kushal is known as logical, pragmatic, and futuristic, he is also a leader for whom heart level connection has always been important. He quotes John Wood’s book Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, “The headmaster explained. Books were considered precious. The school had so few that the teachers did not want to risk the children damaging them. I wondered how a book could impart knowledge if it was locked up but kept that thought to myself.” Kushal was moved by the thought of children not having access to something as basic as books and, inspired by John’s ideas, he joined Room to Read (founded by John in 2001), to make a difference.
Kushal contributed to their first and many subsequent financial policy(s) and working in Room to Read reinforced his belief that what he did for a living had true purpose. Ideating, creating & implementing programs for Literacy & Girls Education in countries across Asia and Africa was truly special for Kushal, something that he passionately resonated with. He really believes that by empowering women, one can transform society, because when you educate a woman, she will educate a whole generation. Studies show that, “Increase in education of girls tends to correlate with high levels of development, and leads to growth in GDP”, says Kushal. He believes that the two sectors which greatly impact and form the future of a country are education and health and both are ironically not given enough importance. This Covid-19 pandemic may, however, change that.
Kushal is a firm believer that when your heart and mind are in the same place, you can have a powerful impact. A lot of people look at their jobs and life pursuits outside of that aspect. He says, “It is totally okay to want to make money, do whatever makes you happy, but do it well.”
When it is time for him to hang up his boots, Kushal wants to work at the ground level where he can put his learnings and experiences to use in creating lasting results. Working with grass root community-based organizations and nurturing them to make sustainable value impacts in their areas of work, is how he plans to live his life.
Kushal Mazumdar, a Chartered Accountant by profession and current Director – Finance & Operation at PATH India, is an accomplished Finance professional with almost three decades of experience in national & international positions both in for-Profit and non-profit organizations (INGOs). In the last two decades, Kushal has worked extensively in setting up and leading diverse functions like finance & accounting, admin, operation and compliance functions in international organizations like, Micronutrient Initiative (now, Nutrition Int’l) , Plan International, Room to Read, PATH in India, South Asia and African countries. Over the years, Kushal has created a niche for himself as a different finance professional with a strong commercial acumen, a change agent, a transformational leader who enjoys thinking out of the box.