Peg Ross, director of Grameen Foundation’s Human Capital Center team, recently returned from research trip to India. This is part of the Next Generation Leadership Development initiative to help develop the vital middle management level of microfinance leaders.
It was already 100°F when we loaded into cars at 6 a.m. to head out to the most rural branch at CASHPOR, a microfinance institution (MFI) based in Varanasi in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh. The branch is two hours away, and we stopped before heading out of town to buy a case of bottled water—something we would need to stave off dehydration in this extreme, dry heat. The temperature later climbed to 115°F.
CASHPOR was the starting point of a two-week research trip to four diverse Indian MFIs where we hoped to deepen our knowledge of the role of the field operations middle managers from multiple perspectives. Armed with this data, we plan to develop a scalable, replicable leadership development solution that will enhance their ability to perform their current jobs more effectively and begin the process of grooming them for senior leadership roles within the MFI.
We were a diverse team: an Indian-born leadership expert from the Center for Creative Leadership; a partner at Bangalore, India-based CoCoon Consulting; a former Fast Company writer who now heads the social innovation practice at Continuum in Boston; an envisioner, also from Continuum (on her first trip to India); Grameen Foundation’s India representative who grew up on a farm more than 60 miles outside of Delhi; and me, a former corporate HR leader.