Questions and Answers

WHAT AM I DOING? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? HAVE I LOST MY MIND?

I’d be lying if I said these questions never crossed my mind when I decided to leave New York – a city that had become home after 6 years there – for 10 months in Bangalore. I had excellent colleagues at a management consulting job I loved, incredibly close friendships that I will always cherish, and a comfortable, enjoyable life in a city I was more than familiar with. While trying to answer those questions that allowed doubt to creep into my mind, I’ve found myself faced with a few others recently.

What motivates us? Why do we do what we do?

Tony Robbins tried to answer these questions with this talk on invisible forces, but for me, there was a clearly visible reason for joining the AIF Clinton Fellowship. Growing up among India’s privileged and witnessing the terrible inequality in the world around me led me to the belief that I will be most motivated in a career where I can try to help the underprivileged help themselves. I know that in the long-term, I want to be in social enterprise, and this program is providing me the opportunity to live life at an exciting one, Babajob, while sharing my experience with 39 fantastic co-fellows and learning from theirs.

What does Babajob do? What makes Babajob exciting for me?

Babajob is India’s largest online and mobile job portal for the informal sector – blue-collar workers looking for work in telesales, domestic help, or other entry-level jobs. In India, if a family needs a second driver, they will likely ask their current one to recommend a friend who was looking for a job. As a result, people’s job opportunities at the entry-level of the informal space are often limited by who they know. Babajob is changing that. Using the portal, a potential driver can apply to a wide range of jobs, which far outweigh the opportunities presented by his (limited) social network. The benefits don’t stop there, however: Babajob makes it easier for employers to hire, with products that allow them to start receiving calls from screened applicants in a matter of minutes.

Over half a million people have already found employment using Babajob, and there are over 2 million users on the site, with  120,000 added every month. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to work directly with and learn from the senior-most management of a fast-growing and ambitious start-up, as they move into their next stage of growth. However, more important to me is that Babajob’s model serves to provide the less fortunate with access to capital, a mighty step towards reducing income inequality in India.

Did I make the right choice?

For me, this was a risk, and I could have used the force of inertia to stay in my old happy place, but the words the little Decision Elf told Andy Dunn, a former consultant and the founder of Bonobos, rang true in my ears when I had to make my choice: “The risk not taken is more dangerous than the risk taken.”

I’ve only been back in India for three weeks now, and while it hasn’t been all smooth sailing, it wouldn’t be an exciting experience if it were. Things are just very different: Bangalore isn’t New York and Babajob isn’t Booz. I’m aware though, that as with everything in life, there will be ups and downs, and I see that as part of the challenge with re-adjusting to life in India, my becoming Indian again.  It’s still early days, but I’ve seen enough in my time so far at Babajob–tremendous ambition, drive, and camaraderie–to know that the next 10 months will prove to be an invaluable life experience for me, personally and professionally, as I join a team working to find Better Jobs for Everyone.

Mrinal understood the power of Economics as a tool to transform society while working as a volunteer at the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh. Though still in high school, he realized economic development was going to be integral to his future plans. Much later, as an undergrad, he interned with the Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm founded by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. Here, upon witnessing the huge double bottom-line impact such organizations have, he decided to focus on social enterprise. Mrinal was born in India where he schooled for the first sixteen years of his life. Thereafter he left for London to study at Westminster School. He then moved on to Columbia University in the US, where he majored in Economics. Since he graduated in 2012, he has been working with Booz & Company as a management consultant in New York. While at Booz, Mrinal was heavily involved in their pro-bono partnership with the Clinton Foundation. He ran projects as well as participated on teams with the foundation's affiliate - The Centre for Facilitation of Investments in Haiti.

Mrinal has prior experience working in India through internships with Rare Enterprises, a private equity firm, and 3D packaging, a decorated plastic tube manufacturer.

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8 thoughts on “Questions and Answers

  1. Mrinal
    Bangalore is not NY. Babajobs is not Booz. But being in Bangalore with Babajobs on a AIF Clinton Fellowship is something special. I am sure you will get a lot out of this experience. See you soon.
    Sridar

  2. Thanks Jon and Sushma Aunty! And thank you, Sridar – it is incredible and I too am absolutely certain that I’ll get far more out of this than I can ever imagine! Looking forward to seeing you next week.

  3. You still write like a consultant though (“work directly with and learn from the senior-most management of a fast-growing and ambitious start-up, as they move into their next stage of growth” = buzzword bonanza)

    Haha just kidding, congrats man you are doing great things, keep it up!

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