Anil Sachdev, Founder & Chairman, School of Inspired Leadership
Anil Sachdev is the Founder and CEO of Grow Talent Company Limited and the School of Inspired Leadership-SOIL.
Anil Sachdev is one of the tallest leaders in talent management in the country. He is the Founder, CEO and present dean of the School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL). At the age of 19, while most people are still figuring out what they want from life, he wrote his mission statement clearly. He decided that he wanted to contribute to India’s economic growth without spiritual impoverishment.
After completing his MBA from Pune, Anil joined Tata Motors and then went on to join Eicher Group. He founded Eicher Consultancy Services and later founded Grow Talent. His trajectory has been remarkable and he now serves as the adjunct faculty to leading business schools such as Indian School of Business, Kelly School of Business, Indiana University and more. He is a trustee of Chinmaya Mission, an inspiring NPO. He has also held several public offices and is a member of the CEDEP Academic Committee.
On how Grow Talent was created
“I had told Mr. Lal at Eicher that after working with them for 10 years, I would start a consulting company of my own. When the time came, he asked me why don’t you make it a subsidiary of Eicher? So we created Eicher Consultancy. It’s vision statement was much like mine – India’s economic growth without spiritual impoverishment. And for every one of those words, we had practice areas. We had total employee involvement – not just physically, intellectually and emotionally but with their entire being. For spiritual development, people needed to do more with less for everyone’s benefit. And they needed to use the right means to make money.”
After incorporating all these into Eicher Consultancy, which grew significantly, Anil stepped down as the founder and created Grow Talent in 2001. Grow Talent’s vision was helping people realize their full potential. Eicher Consultancy did everything from strategy to operations to HR, but Grow Talent chose to stick to only talent.
“The funny thing is that the funding for it came from all the clients of ECS. They contributed on their own.”
The idea behind setting up SOIL
Anil had some very defining moments in his early life, incidents that made him decide that he wanted to serve the nation in some way and finally, he decided on education.
“I wanted to get into education, but education in a transformative way. Not just to make money.”
In the early 90s, while Anil was setting up Eicher Consultancy, the board of IIM Ahmedabad approached him to take over as Director of the institute. Anil asked Mr. Kulkarni, Chairman of the Board, and one of his clients, why they wanted him there.
“He said, Anil, we have people who teach good management but we lack leadership here. He said we really want you to come here and help in building good leaders. The same year IIM Bangalore offered me the same opportunity. I turned it down because I was focused on building Eicher Consultancy, but the thought remained with me. Why were the top management schools not being able to create good leaders?”
Anil has tried to solve this problem at SOIL by segregating it into 5 aspects. First, right from the time of admission, one has to observe different types of intelligences. He says analytical intelligence is overrated and we must look at creative, design, emotional intelligence among others.
The second aspect is that teachers are not great role models. Most students do not think of them as mentors. “I firmly believe that teachers teach who they are, regardless of what they teach.” At SOIL, they have tried to rope in faculty that can behave as leaders.
Third, Anil believes that students need to have out of classroom experience. They created something called the ‘Social Innovation Program’, wherein one day in a week, students work in teams at a NPO and help in problem solving. “This also helps invoke compassion in their hearts for people who are not like them.”
Fourthly, Anil decided to develop future-ready people by observing what industries were paying attention to. “We should be developing a whole systems thinking, so it is not limited to functional disciplines like marketing, finance, but develop a holistic thinking.”
Lastly, he felt that everything in the school should be co-created. SOIL was co-created by 32 companies. “Everything from the curriculum design to the pedagogy to the learning outcomes has been co-designed with the industries.”
How millennials are changing the industry
“The one thing about millennials that I am truly impressed with is that they really want to make a difference. However complex a problem, they believe that it can be solved. I completely disagree with the view that they are selfish and only work for money. They are in fact, selfless. They want to work for society and make the country better. All they need is mentors like us to provide them with the space to grow and be better. If millennials don’t get that mentorship, it is the failure of us seniors. Young people, including Gen Z, are far more conscious and far more driven.”
Anil Sachdev is the Founder and CEO of Grow Talent Company Limited and the School of Inspired Leadership-SOIL. Grow Talent was created in July 2000 and became the leader in the strategic HR consulting industry by 2006.It enabled large number of Global and local firms to achieve breakthrough performance by realising the potential of their people and creating a talent advantage.
In October 2008, Anil and the other co-founders of Grow Talent entered the field of Education by creating SOIL- the School of Inspired Leadership. This innovative School has been co- created by a consortium of 32 leading firms and has focus on the five pillars of inspired leadership: Compassion, Diversity, Ethics, Mindfulness and Sustainability. In 2019, Soil has launched its second campus in Manesar- the SOIL School of Business Design that is offering the first of its kind two years full time MBA that combines the disciplines of liberal arts, design thinking and management education
Anil’s experience in India and across the world covers areas such as talent management, strategic change and organizational transformation. Recognised as a thought leader in leadership development and Organizational transformation, Anil has done pioneering work with leading global and local firms. He has spoken at national and global conferences all over the world and has written contributory pieces for leading publications. He has been adjunct Faculty to leading business schools such as Indian School of Business, Kelly School of Business, Indiana University, GMI, Flint Michigan, Antioch University, Seattle, Ohio University and University of New Brunswick, Canada.
Anil began his career with Tata Motors in 1975 after completing his MBA from the University of Pune and joined Eicher in 1978 and worked in HR, operations and TQM. He is the Founder of Eicher Consultancy Services and was its CEO till 2001.
ECS was responsible for bringing AT Kearney to India and Anil acted as their first Managing Partner in India. Later ECS became a 50:50 JV with Menlo Park, California based Strategic Decisions Group (160 Phds, mostly from Stanford) and its consultants participated in several client projects in America, Europe etc.
He is active in management circles and has held several public offices such a Chairman of National Committees on Leadership Development, Human Resources, Industrial relations of the Confederation Indian Industry.
Anil is a member of the Academic Committee and Faculty member of CEDEP, the leading Leadership Institute of Europe, located in the INSEAD campus Fontainebleau. He is a member of the World Compassion Council, based in Seattle and a Trustee of the Chinmaya Mission. He serves on the Global Board of Shizenkan University in Tokyo.