As AIM students, we constantly go through cases upon cases that seek to sharpen our capacity to tackle diverse business situations. This is often exhibited through the confidence of raising one’s hand to make a stand, to engage in an argument, or to simply share a whole night’s worth of case analysis. Day in and day out, we engage in discourses that help us develop a sound and a critical business mindset whether it be with our learning teams, our professors, and even with our lunchmates. On most days, we are programmed to generate ideas on challenges such as how best we can increase the shareholder’s value, improve a company’s financials, and influence people to work towards company’s set goals. This is not something that should come as a surprise because after all, all these are part of the very core of any business.
Last May 17, 2018, for an hour and twenty minutes, I had the opportunity to stray away from the usual case discussions and instead sit through a talk on Business & Giving by Nipun Mehta, the founder of ServiceSpace in Silicon Valley, which is at the center of technology, volunteerism, and “Giftivism” (gift-economy)
Nipun Mehta is not without experience in business and in the startup scene; in fact, his network consists of the big names in the Silicon Valley, but he uses his network and business skills differently. He uses these to create ripples of change in the world by giving and creating genuine human connection. He is the kind of person that boasts of sincerity and so much heart. I believed he only had one mission that morning, to at least convince one or two of us, business students, to recognize the importance of giving in helping us reconnect to the world that has been divided in so many ways.
According to Nipun, this world is entrenched within systemic, social, and spiritual divides that we, humans, find it rather difficult to create connections. But he believes that one way to reverse this is through generosity – a consistent act of giving and being kind. It is by this means that a gift ecology develops, a gratitude network emerges, and sincere human connections are made.
It was a breath of fresh air from all the business cases and discussions that we have been living and breathing for the past months. That day, I have come to realize that while our minds were constantly put to test, I can count with my set of fingers the number of times when our hearts were challenged deliberately inside the case rooms. That amidst the hundreds of case discussions, we may end up losing sight of the realities of the world outside of AIM – that there are and there will still be societal challenges outside that demand to be solved by both the mind and the heart. In alignment with AIM’s mission to create in us managers who lead, inspire and transform, we have to constantly be reminded of all these and be the ones to create avenues that enable people to reconnect, to be kind, and to be generous with each other. After all, what makes of great leader is not how much one has done, but rather, how much hearts one has touched.
So, in Nipun’s own words, “how can you be a little kinder for the world today?”
Words by Camille Conanan, MBA 2018 and president of PACTS Club
Photos by Chandrasekhar Ganapathisubramanian, MBA 2018 and president of Strategy and Business Club and Project MORE