Journey to Lead, Empower & Impact Tanushree’s story

Tanushree Sharma, Gandhi Fellowship Alumna, Batch 2012-14, Ahmedabad location, is currently working at Piramal Foundation; the strategic philanthropic arm of Piramal Group and leading employee-volunteering program for 12,000 + employees globally; creating a platform to strengthen the culture of giving (Seva Bhav) at the Piramal Group. She is also a passionate marathon runner and believes that there is no greater sense of satisfaction than what one gets from setting a personal goal and conquering it. Read on to know more about her journey.

I have seen the ‘Other World’ from up-close – A world slightly different from yours and mine, a world where I have been working for the best past eight years now. First as a Gandhi Fellow, then starting up a nonprofit’s work among orphan in Northern regions of India and later at Piramal Group’s philanthropic Foundation focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and impact-driven volunteering programs.
My two-year intensive tenure as a fellow at the Gandhi Fellowship program shaped me as an individual and gave me a distinct identity purely because of the unorthodox and grass roots level experience that enriched my understanding of systemic social change at scale. When I came across the Gandhi Fellowship program, two offerings struck a chord with me – become a change leader and impact a million lives.

Gandhi Fellowship days, intervention in community

My horizons had broadened while I was studying media and communications at Jamia’s Mass Communications & Research Centre (MCRC), but it was during my fellowship journey that I developed varied new perspectives. It is all these years of working among communities that gave me a new empathetic view towards critical roadblocks that our country is facing today.

The experiences during the Fellowship were truly an eye-opener. One such experience was during my community immersion, where we had to stay with a family in a slum for six weeks. I had developed a close relationship with the eldest daughter of the family – Hetal.  The numerous conversations that I had with her over a period of time, made me realize the real meaning of happiness. The privileges that we have in life never define our happiness and deep down I understood that it’s all about the opportunities that one needs to maneuver in life.  It’s all about creating experiences through opportunities for people who need it and I think I am doing my bit.

Post the fellowship, I worked with a nonprofit organization ‘Bhumi’ – one of India’s largest youth volunteer organization. My core work at Bhumi involved establishing their Delhi chapter and managing operations at other Northern cities including volunteer recruitment, communications, fundraising, training, and expansion. Having worked among the subalterns I have learnt a lot along the way – imbibing qualities of deep reflection while simultaneously strengthening my research and appreciative inquiry.

Receiving the ‘Emerging Young Leader’ award from Dr. Prahalathan, Founder, Bhumi.

After having worked at the grassroots and with a good understanding of how public systems work – Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) space always intrigued me and with the increasing conversation around social capitalism, I really wanted to gain experience of working at a global level philanthropy foundation. That is when my experience in leading volunteering programs and knowledge of communications turned out to be a perfect fit for a role at Piramal Foundation – where my work involves designing the employee-volunteering program for Piramal employees along with managing communications for Foundation initiatives.

Transitioning to the corporate philanthropy space after working with grassroots communities wasn’t easy at all and I struggled in the initial phase. Managing change both at personal as well as at the organization level is one of the key competencies among many others that the fellowship has imbibed in me.

Addressing a group of employees at Piramal.

My current work majorly involves designing and creating platforms where working professionals can come together and create a positive impact in society. A large part of our society, mainly working professionals hardly find platforms and ways to bridge the imbalance that exists today. My vision here is to make everyone experience ‘the joy of giving back’ without compromising on their regular job and make volunteering a way of life for every citizen. I believe, with active involvement and willingness to bring change together, we can make a difference with the best possible use of our time and effort. The opportunity that I received as a Gandhi Fellow tremendously changed me as an individual and I want to create similar experiences for others to bring about the real change.

I strongly believe that there is enormous potential for volunteering to be a game-changer in addressing social challenges. By knitting together resources, talent, and expertise from across sectors, I feel we can aim to make real progress on social problems.

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