Sriram is the Senior Vice President for Banking and Financial Services at Wipro. He is responsible for business from banking customers globally for Wipro and focuses on bringing in non- linearity in the software services industry.
Sriram is Chartered Accountant with broad experience in all aspects of accounting, auditing and financial management and in-depth understanding of information technology as applicable to the Banking and Financial services industry globally.
Currently, he has taken a sabbatical from his close to 25 year IT career to set-up D3T (Dignity and Dreams for Dogs Trust). In this rendezvous, I discussed with Sriram about his new initiative and the future plans
I’ve personally known Sriram for more than a decade now. Going down memory lane, he was probably one of the first senior business leaders I have interacted with in my professional career. And though we had the opportunity to work closely years back, we lost touch along the way. An occasional mail, greeting or Hello is what we shared for the past few years. Thanks to my blogs, we were able to re-connect. Sriram has been appreciative of my blogging success – with a kind acknowledgement, appreciation and a dash of humor (which is characteristic of him) along the way.
To quote a specific example on his wit and humor – The one that I will always remember is that Sriram mentions with a naughty smile and twinkle in his eye that “His life is driven, controlled and influenced by 9 women – His mother, wife, 2 sisters, 2 nieces and his 3 pet female dogs – All of whom he loves dearly.”
Hence I was excited about this rendezvous. One, to speak with Sriram after years and Two, to hear about his new venture. I knew always that Sriram loved dogs, but his current initiative is taking this love to a new level…
Nischala: Thanks for your time Sriram for this Rendezvous.
Sriram: Hi. .. Good Morning! It’s my pleasure. Hope all is well
Nischala: Firstly, great to speak with you after so long. And Congratulations on your new initiative. Would like to learn a little about your new initiative… So what is D3T all about?
Sriram: As you know, both my wife and I love dogs and have always been passionate about their welfare. We’ve had several dogs of our own over the past few years. My fascination for the wide world of dogs started some 30 years back with a gift of a Alsation- German Shepard pup whom we had named Tina ( There is no alternative and we did not know that acronym then). She must have been one of the most travelled dogs in the railways at that time ;).
Over the last 5 years we have adopted three more dogs who stay with us. The first one (Browny) followed us during a walk and we didn’t have the heart to let her go. The second one (Wags) walked herself into our compound and stayed on. The third one (Ginger) we again found during a walk. She had been ill-treated and could barely talk. She’d lost her voice and was unwell – So we brought her home and gave her the required care and attention. Today, she’s perfectly fine and in fact, makes the most noise at home :). These three have got us to understand loving the world of dogs and their needs.
Over the past few years, the more we observed dogs in our locality and other parts of Bangalore, we felt there was crying need for active work to be done for the welfare of dogs.
Personally, we do our bit and best at every opportunity we get. Every day when we go for our walk, we feed atleast 10 dogs (Langdu, Scruffy, Scratchy, Scardy poo, Tall and lanky, Eager beaver ,Blacky, Lambu, Stripes and Karia) and we have got our domestic help and driver also to adopt two dogs – Scuby and Rocky. And what we realized is that dogs are essentially creatures of habit.
They really need only basics things – 1) food at fixed intervals 2) Love and affection. 3)health care both preventive and reactive.
So this initiative was really born out of personal passion and the current URGENT NEED for ACTION to be done in this space. And D3T was conceptualized to do just that! D3T stands for Dignity and Dreams for Dogs Trust. The idea of the initiative is take a holistic view of all issues that a dog could possibly face from Cradle to Grave; and to provide the required aid / support / assistance to address these issues.
Nischala: That’s good to hear. So what are the real goals for this initiative?
Sriram: The ultimate long term goals of D3T are to ensure that every dog in Bangalore:
1) Has a place to live – home / foster home, etc. So, this will include identifying people who would like to adopt a dog and co-ordinate for adoption
2) Is sterilized so that they don’t breed excessively / on the road
3) Gets the RIGHT food everyday of their life
4) Has access to preventive healthcare – Gets timely vaccinations so that it leads a healthy life and also does not harm / injure anyone and medical attention in case a dog is injured or infected
4) And really to give a dog a befitting burial
So to summarize, the aim of D3T is:
1) To give Dignity to every Dog – Essentially a home when it is alive so that it does not have to scavenge for food or is not teased, injured or harmed on the streets. And then to bury it with dignity
2) To fulfill the 2 Dreams of a dog – One is really to get the right food during the day. And let me tell you that dogs are hungry all the time. Two, to give and get love and affection
Nischala: OK. It’s great that you’ve taken such a holistic view of the issue itself. Many people I know look at welfare of dogs in a very siloed manner and at a very micro level and one day at a time. So this vision is really very well thought out and strategic if I may say in business terms. So, what is the short term plan?
Sriram: The short term plan is to focus our efforts on the area / locality that we live in – primarily Indira Nagar and C V Raman Nagar. And what we want to achieve is this:
1) No stray puppies on the road – So basically, every new born puppy should have a home
2) All unhealthy / injured dogs in the area should have access to medical care – So basically, they should receive medical attention and care from an agency like CUPA, Blue Cross, etc.
3) All dogs should get the right food – And I emphasize on right food because if they are fed wrong / unhealthy food, the chance that they get infected is high. A lot of people feed dogs with a good intent, but end up doing more harm as they don’t know what is good for dogs.
Essentially, dogs need balanced food. Human food may not always be the best for dogs.They should not be given excess salt and sugar in their food. Excess sugar as in humans has the potential to cause diseases in dogs, and also leads to other side effects like hair loss, etc. And excess salt can cause urological problems, etc. Also if you give them stale food – It is unhealthy. So the focus is to ensure that they eat the right food at regular time intervals.
Nischala: OK. Great to hear. And also very informative. Many of us probably are just not aware of such simple things. So what after you’ve done this?
Sriram: The long term plan is to expand beyond the areas that we live in and ensure that we are able to institutionalize a model in line with our ultimate goals.
Nischala: So moving from the corporate world of 25+ years to starting out on your own. How do you feel? And how difficult was it to make this decision?
Sriram: It was a very difficult decision. Something which I have been thinking about for more than 1.5 years. Let me tell you it’s not easy to leave the corporate world, especially if you are doing well.
So, I think looking back there were really a few considerations:
1) Most importantly is the fact that we are deeply passionate about the cause and believed in it
2) There is an URGENT CRYING need for work to be done in this area. So even if you are passionate about something, if there’s no BURNING problem to address – There’s no compelling need to probably devote your full time and efforts here. But since there is a burning need for action in this cause and we were really passionate about making a difference, we decided to embark on it
3) Also along with me, my wife has taken a sabbatical from work. So in addition to the cause, I think it’s a great opportunity for us to also get some personal and family time. The last few years have been invested in our careers. So this is a golden opportunity for us to work together towards a cause we both believe in. Also, in India – Giving up your corporate career for a social cause is still not the norm and probably not so well accepted yet. And so there’s the element of societal pressures as well. But I think if you believe in your dreams or a cause, people will eventually support you!
4) The organizational reaction and support – So I’ve been in discussions for several months now with the Wipro leadership team. And once everyone recognized the need and also realized how passionate we were about the initiative, things became a lot easier. I’ve received phenomenal support from the entire senior leadership. .
So in the end, the passion, vision and personal commitment to the cause overtook everything else. Also, it needed to be done full time with dedicated effort and commitment and hence the decision to take a break from the corporate world.
Nischala: That’s great to hear! So, what are the key challenges you envision here?
Sriram: The first is probably to build the RIGHT team of people – Basically people who are equally passionate about this cause and are willing to work with us. Interestingly, ever since people in my network have heard about this, I’ve received a lot of calls and messages. Some people who are already doing work towards the welfare of dogs and are willing to extend the intensity and contribution towards our initiative or some who were interested but never really did anything for very many reasons! And so as of date, we have about a dozen people who have expressed keen interest in working with us.
Second is in terms of identification of the right organizations / agencies and teams that we can collaborate with to ensure that we are able to cover all aspects of our goals. So as of today, I don’t yet have a sense of how much we’ll need to work with the Government and other agencies. But we should be able to figure this with time. Based on our research, we have found that there are some parts (5-6) in Bangalore where there are other agencies who are already doing similar work. We’ll need to engage with them and work out a collaborative model for working.
So the point is that during the initial 6 months, the focus will be on ironing out the organizational aspects of the initiative – basically setting up the legal entity through which we can operate, get the paper work done, set up the banking accounts, financial models, commercials, etc.
One of the key aspects obviously would be to identify the funding mechanism. Interestingly, I am not too worried about this as of now as a number of my well wishers have offered to contribute without me reaching out at all.We will cross this bridge when we get to it.
Second is really to figure out the way to institutionalize the model of operation. It cannot be an individual based model for it to survive and sustain.
In other words – The proof of the pudding is in the eating. So really, the yardstick for success is in being able to have a long term sustainable model to achieve the goals we set out for ourselves.
Nischala: Great to hear this Sriram. Also, a great part of your success will be primarily driven by the awareness among people. So, any thoughts on how you plan to generate awareness about this initiative?
Sriram: You are so right! In the long term, awareness is the KEY to our success.
One of the immediate areas that we’d like to focus on is to generate awareness in school-going-kids. So we do intend to collaborate with schools so that there is an awareness session / class as a part of their school curriculum. The biggest benefit here is that we are building this awareness at an impressionable age and stage in their life. So these lessons they will probably carry through life.
Second and also very important is that children are great ambassadors of positive change and are increasingly the key influencers at home. So for e.g.: If your child mentioned this to you over a dinner or when you are driving past an injured dog, chances are you will take note and also probably act on it! (Atleast better chance than if your spouse told you ;).. Something as basic as when you see an injured dog, you can call CUPA or Blue Cross to inform them about the same.
All you need is
1) Awareness that such agencies exist and
2) their contact details stored in your mobile.
Two, is that in terms of a larger reach – we need to figure a way to reach a larger audience to make them aware and also, ensure that they take the right action within their sphere of impact and influence. So, for e.g: May be through your blog we are able to generate some level of awareness and interest in D3T. And hopefully, over a period of time people do take the right actions.
Nischala: Sure Sriram. I’ll be personally happy if my blog(s) can make a difference here. So every time I publish my blog, I have no clue on who’s reading it from which part of the globe – But do hope that this post can make a positive impact and difference to D3T. So coming to my next question – Given that you have been in the technology world for more than 2 decades, how do you intend to use technology for your initiative?
Sriram: Sure, technology will be an integral part of our initiative. We do plan to have our own web-site / blog, etc. in the next few months. And we also plan to leverage the power of social media – for generating more awareness and for wider audience reach
Nischala: That’s excellent Sriram! Thank You for your time! It was an absolute pleasure to talk to you. Best wishes for success. And hope D3T achieves the goals it set out with and every dog has its dreams fulfilled and gets dignity in life and death! Good Luck!
Sriram: Thanks for your time..
A personal request for you.. – Kindly do share this in your network to create awareness about the D3T initiative…