The Business Women
Where Business Runs Around Her

Let’s meet Poorvi Shah, CEO of Katalyst who can be easily termed as role model


Let’s meet Poorvi Shah, CEO of Katalyst who can be easily termed as role model

Fortune favors those who work hard whether a person is male of female. The male dominated world was always reluctant to even acknowledge the fact that women were as good as men on parameters of hard work, intelligence quotient (IQ) and leadership traits.The new generation women across the world have overcome all negative notions and have proved themselves beyond doubt in all spheres of life including the most intricate and cumbersome world of entrepreneurship.Yes, there is a section among women who believe in short-cuts but at the same time there is no dearth of women who are confident, believe in themselves and have enormous fire in their bellies to take on the best in the business and beat them at their own game.India too has its own pool of such bold and fearless women who have made a mark for themselves both within the country as well as overseas. One thing we can all agree on is that female entrepreneurs don’t get enough press, even the successful ones. Here The CEO Magazine has recognized one of inspiring ladies Poorvi Shah, CEO of Katalyst who can be an inspirational personality for us.

Poorvi’s relentless zeal, incessant quench for success and willingness to walk the extra mile has broken all myths about her inborn limitations that were supposed to be major roadblocks on her success expressway.She joined as the CEO of Katalyst, an initiative of Human Capital for Third Sector in January 2015. She has over ten year of experience with The Akanksha Foundation especially leadership development and student enrichment besides teacher training, fund raising, and reporting.

As Director for Student Enrichment, Poorvi focused on character and life skills development in students. She oversaw the Career Resource Centre, Mentor Program, scholarships, alumni engagement and leadership programs for youth such as Learning to lead and Service Learning. This involved program design and review, research, planning, budgeting, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and impact.

Poorvi as well as her students and alumni have represented Akanksha in various forums such as UN global forum (WASH), RISE Round Table, InspirED, Youth Leadership Conferences and Common Purpose. She has also been a jury for Social Innovation Awards at IIT’s Techfest. The Annual report and the proposal co-authored by her for Akanksha, received the Outstanding Annual Report Award from CSO Partners and NGO of the Year Award by Resource Alliance and Rockfeller Foundation respectively. 

Poorvi is passionate about equity in education and empowerment and enjoys meeting people from all walks of life.

The CEO Magazine interviews Poorvi Shah – CEO of Katalyst

TCM:What was your dream as a business lady?

Poorvi:My dream was to create an impact on society.

TCM:What is your greatest professional accomplishment till date?

Poorvi:I had never thought I would be a CEO of an organization, hence becoming the CEO of Katalyst and taking it to the next level has been my greatest professional accomplishments.

TCM:What do you think is the biggest challenge to female leadership?

Poorvi:The biggest challenge is woman herself. The roadblocks mental and physical are laid by a woman herself. She needs to believe that she is a leader and that she can!

TCM:What is the best decision you’ve ever made?

Poorvi:The best decision I have made is to move to the social sector. That was the turning point in my life. I moved from corporate sector to social sector just by chance and it has been the most enriching experience. Since then I haven’t looked back.The learning and gratification I get while working here cannot be matched by any amount of money in the corporate sector. The beauty of being in the sector is that there is as much impact on oneself as on the beneficiaries.

TCM:What stimulated your ideas to start a new business venture or to bring significant changes in an existing business/at work place?

Poorvi:When I joined Katalyst, I was asked by the Board to grow the organization and take it to the next level. Katalyst is a unique program that aims to elevate and transform girls from low income communities who are pursuing professional education so that they are socially and economically empowered. Katalyst achieves this through developmental interventions, mentoring and variety of exposure so that these young women can take roles of leadership in any sector. When I met the Katalysts (Katalyst girls), I saw the positive impact the program had on them and realized the potential impact and the reach it could have. I also felt that if we do not deliver 100% of what we promise to do, we would be doing disservice to these girls.

TCM:What effective strategies you have implemented/initiatives you have taken to achieve success?

Poorvi:First I spent time understanding the organization and existing operations. Anjali Hari, who had been with the program since inception, supported me and gave me insights into the program structure, interventions and the Katalysts. There were some systems in place which needed to be strengthened and consistently followed and some new systems needed to be put in place in addition to expanding the team. I met different stakeholders to understand their engagement and perception. With the help of the advisor, Mr. Vijay Mahajan, Board director SunitMehra, one year plan with timelines was created. I started executing it with the help of the existing team. Gaps were identified which we started plugging in. I created more visibility for Katalyst. Started working on developing an end to end MIS to increase efficiency and accuracy of data and reporting.

TCM:How do you define success? What is your take on the ways to achieve long term success?

Poorvi: Success is not static. It is a series of milestones achieved while continuing to push boundaries. To achieve long term success, one has to have a long term vision and a plan. There will be challenges along the way but the key is to not give up and convert every challenge into opportunity.

TCM:Please tell us about your future plans.

Poorvi:My and Katalyst’s vision is to see more women at workplace especially at the leadership level. To achieve this we would like to scale up by creating a replicable and sustainable model which can be taken pan India and even overseas. According to study published by Grant Thornton in 2016, India ranks third lowest in the proportion of business leadership roles held by women for the second year consecutively with only 16% of women in senior management.  . We would like to change that by enhancing the competencies of these women and increasing the talent pool for India Inc.

TCM:Who has been your greatest inspiration?

Poorvi:Besides my father, my greatest inspirations have been Shaheen Mistri. At the age of 18 she set up Akanksha Foundation and then went to start Teach For India. She has loads of passion, energy, creative ideas and resilience. I have had the privilege of working closely with her. In addition, every student of mine has inspired me to work better and more.

TCM:Whom do you attribute your success to?

Poorvi:My parents who shaped me, my fundamental thinking and value systems, my husband, children and in laws who stood by me, understood me and encouraged me in my journey, my mentor who helped me transition into the role of CEO.  I have also been lucky to have great bosses in every organisation that I have worked in, as they gave me opportunity to learn and grow and valued my contribution.

TCM:What do you think is the biggest challenge to female leadership?

Poorvi: The biggest challenge is woman herself. The roadblocks mental and physical are laid by a woman herself. She needs to believe that she is a leader and that she can!

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