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6 - Unanticipated challenges in driving Social Impact - Ashish Dhawan on Setting Markers, Transitioning to the Social Sector, and Understanding Nuances.

Ashish speaks about the challenges involved in leading in the Social Impact sector. He speaks about why the production function in this space is much more complicated and that coupled with not having adequate control over key levers of change makes it much harder to drive outcomes. He also speaks about the nuances involved in attracting and motivating talent in this space as they respond to different cues. He then goes on to discuss what he had to learn and unlearn as he transitioned from the Corporate Management world to the Development Management world.

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Ashish speaks about how he had told himself that he would like to turn entrepreneur when he is 30 and do something else when he is 45. He speaks about how these markers influenced the way he made choices and spent his time and attention when he graduated at Harvard Business School and beyond.
 • 06m:00s • 
Ashish speaks about how he thought about entrepreneurship despite the high opportunity cost given his HBS education and employment at Goldman Sachs. He also goes on to speak about his initial challenges as an entrepreneur trying to raise a fund for investing in India despite having no significant work experience in India. He also speaks about the role of mentors and supporters in giving him the confidence to take the plunge.
 • 11m:51s • 
Ashish speaks about a few elements of an effective PE investor. 1) Having the conviction and independence of opinion yet have your ears to the ground 2) Being an effective macroeconomist and a historian 3) Being street smart and having your own intel (developing your own polygraph) 4) Staying the course. He speaks about how his education in liberal arts prepared him well for a career in Private Equity.
 • 10m:28s • 
Ashish speaks about the notion of controlled ambition which enabled him to stay detached from the material outcomes and also gave him the conviction to step away from the corporate world despite his accomplishments. He speaks about expenses growing at a much slower clip than his income that enabled him to take the step to move towards philanthropy.
 • 06m:42s • 
Ashish speaks about the different pathways he considered at the point of leaving ChrysCapital. He speaks about his interest in academia and a desire to become a Professor in a University or a Teacher in a school. He also speaks about a potential option of running an NGO or the Indian operations of an established Foundation. He speaks about how he eventually zeroed in on undertaking educational system reform through Central Square Foundation and how the Ashoka University project came about.
 • 11m:58s • 
Ashish speaks about the challenges involved in leading in the Social Impact sector. He speaks about why the production function in this space is much more complicated and that coupled with not having adequate control over key levers of change makes it much harder to drive outcomes. He also speaks about the nuances involved in attracting and motivating talent in this space as they respond to different cues. He then goes on to discuss what he had to learn and unlearn as he transitioned from the Corporate Management world to the Development Management world.
 • 15m:37s • 
Measurement of metrics in a Social Impact context can be complex. This is unlike the corporate world where there are established P&L and Balance Sheet metrics that can be used to measure progress. Ashish speaks about how he thinks about metrics when it comes to evaluation of progress with Ashoka University or Central Square Foundation.
 • 05m:43s • 
Ashish discusses his perspectives around how we should educate ourselves for the future. He speaks about STEM versus Liberal Arts and the role each plays in informing our mental models.
 • 09m:57s • 
Ashish speaks about how he is seeding some initiatives that could possibly prove to be pathways for him in a few years. He speaks about his interest in Air Quality, China and Healthcare and how some of these experiments might pave the path for his next innings.
 • 07m:46s • 
Ashish speaks about how we all could spend some part of our life involving ourselves with the Social Sector. He specifically speaks about Indian Leaders for the Social Sector (ILSS) run by Anu Prasad that conducts a 9 day boot camp for corporate leaders who want to consider transitioning to the Social Impact world.
 • 03m:36s • 

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