MSC takes the lead in bringing leadership opportunities to life, both within and outside of formal positions and hierarchy. Young leaders lead assignments and projects comprising bright, young, and vibrant team members. The more practiced and skilled then go on to lead practice groups and domains in the organization.
But what do the young leaders themselves say about their experiences and engagement levels with this? In a freewheeling conversation, Subir Vyas (CHRO at MSC) spoke to six senior staff at MSC. Let us hear it from them!
Thomas Murayi Maina, Assistant Manager at our Nairobi office expresses what he loves most— work diversity! “Diversity comes to you in several ways, working across geographies and cultures, domains, and project areas. All of these give you wide exposure and learning opportunities, with which comes growth.”
Thomas has worked with the Francophone Africa and India teams. He says “despite different backgrounds, MSC has a lot of synergies, dynamism, and ample room for different ideas. Importantly, people listen to each other with an open mind.” Thomas also appreciates the opportunities to learn and grow here: “Alongside the Brown Bag sessions and webinars, our learning platform TLMS provides a great pool of resources for learning and the newer aspects in our sector, giving us a chance to pick up new skills. Hearteningly, our leaders always encourage us to attend these.”
Thomas sums it up by saying: “A company like ours that is committed to continuous improvement makes you a more polished and professional consultant.”
We then hear from Aparajita Singh, Manager, Government & Social Impact, at our Delhi office. An IIM- Lucknow business grad, Aparajita feels that you hit a new high when your work creates value for both the client and society. This is exactly how she describes her role at MSC: “When you love what you do, work-life balance is never an issue!” Aparajita exudes passion for her work. She says that when you get the kind of empowerment and flexibility we do in MSC, responsibility is never a burden.
Aparajita describes her colleagues as her greatest strength—passionate and purposeful, yet goal-oriented. She feels that the high quality and engaging conversations with her colleagues contribute most to her professional and holistic growth. Aparajita has nurtured endearing bonds with her coworkers based on shared interests. “The atmosphere at MSC is welcoming and we get multicultural, multi-functional exposure.”
We move over to a more tenured staff, Manoj Nayak, who reminisces about the time he joined MSC straight after his MBA. He was awestruck by his team members, who were doing amazing work in inclusive finance. Manoj says that over the years at MSC, he has joined the exciting journey where the organization steadily but definitively transformed from microfinance-based consulting to digital financial inclusion—and beyond.
What Manoj appreciates most about MSC is its fundamental values of teamwork, camaraderie, and people-centeredness—despite its growth, diversification, and journey toward becoming a more sophisticated consulting company. Manoj has had many opportunities to work in different countries and cultures. He particularly loved his three-month assignment in Jakarta—“these travels and assignments broaden your mind, expand your horizon, and helps you to gather a variety of perspectives.”
He signs off by emphasizing MSC’s open nature to varying viewpoints, even outside one’s domain. “Working on different thematic areas such as the future of work and consumer protection were wonderful opportunities to interact with the company’s top leaders, and learn so much more.”
TVS Ravi, Associate Partner and Practice Group Leader, is one of the early joiners at MSC. Reminiscing the years behind, Ravi says the journey at MSC has been immensely gratifying. He believes the most vital enablers in the leadership process are the diversity of work, MSC’s nature of not being a hierarchy-bound organization, and our philosophy of putting people first. Ravi led an IFC project in Sri Lanka within two years of joining. Leading teams early helped build confidence, especially when facing clients.
“MSC believes in giving people space—when assigned leadership roles, we do the same,” says Ravi. What are some of the other key aspects of leadership at MSC? “Keeping team members connected with the larger picture,” says Ravi, adding passionately—“whether it is a small report or working with a small startup, everything matters and adds up to the larger impact.”
Saloni Tandon, part of MSC’s Gender practice group. She gets right to the point. “When teamwork is high, team leadership comes more easily and naturally.” Saloni’s tryst with a leadership role came in the form of the Pathways to Enhancing Financial Inclusion in India (PEFI) project, which supports NITI Aayog, the Indian government’s policy think-tank. For Saloni, PEFI brought a leadership opportunity right upfront. Her key mantra from it was “make people valued, promote ownership and just “be there” for your people”—a lesson she imbibed from a previous supervisor. Learning together and sharing lessons and motivation via recognition—for those who shine, are other team leadership styles that Saloni practices.
Interestingly, Saloni follows what she calls a more “peer style of leadership.” What does this mean? In her words, “take in your junior team members as your partners in thought and action, and create an environment conducive to air their ideas freely and comfortably.”
So what is Saloni’s advice to the newer younger aspiring leaders—“Own the project as if it were your own baby; be communicative all the time; read a lot but structure your lessons, and last but not the least raise flags immediately and do not let things fester.”
Based out of MSC’s Nairobi office is Juliet Ongwae, Senior Manager and Practice Lead for Digital Transformation. Juliet is passionate about team development and derives joy in giving her teams mentorship, guidance, and, as she says, “watching people grow.” Shunning micromanagement, Juliet pushes her team members to prioritize one’s self and self-development. Juliet believes in spending time with her team, both on a formal and informal basis. The former is more for training on a topical area or project. The latter is for generating discussions to draw ideas and solutions. Juliet believes that asking prodding questions works well to make people think on their own feet, resulting in stretch and growth.
Juliet’s natural inclinations are on the strategic side (as they should be!). She takes this to her team members too, and involves them in discussions revolving beyond the nuts and bolts, connecting the dots that make the bigger picture. “Getting people out of their comfort zones is a great way to grow them.”
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