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Q) Imagine yourself meeting your learning team members for the first time in Orientation. What is the most important thing your teammates should know about you?
Sri Mata Vaishno Devi Temple is one of the most revered places of worship in India visited by 8 million pilgrims every year. Around 8000 mules ferry passengers and freight everyday from base camp to the shrine, which is a steep 12 kms long trail. In the process they generate around 40 tonnes of dung per day which is a big nuisance for the serene Himalayan ecology.
It was the summer of 2010 when I visited the shrine with my family and was appalled to see the state of pollution. Convinced that the huge quantity of waste could be used as a valuable resource, I wrote a mail to the CEO of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (a government body which looks after the management of the Shrine) that ABC could help them resolve the problem of waste management in the Shrine. Eventually the board approached ABC to come up with a waste management plan for the shrine.
The effort would require greater expertise and more time than I had available. I quickly assembled a team comprising of 2 field staffs, 1 chemical analyst and a civil engineer. We quickly came up with a detailed proposal and presented it to the shrine board members including the governor of Jammu and Kashmir. Impressed with our approach, the board gave us 6 months' time to come up with a waste management plan.
A detailed survey was required to assess the quantum and quality of waste and it wouldn't have been possible without local support. In my capacity as the Principal Investigator of the project, I called a meeting of all the zonal officers and supervisors of the sweeping staff and explained to them the importance of involving local sweepers for the success of this important project. Eventually, I was able to convince them that they were a part of our team and without their support we won't be able to achieve our objective for improving the state of shrine. With the support of a team of 15 sweepers we successfully completed the field survey on time.
On chemical analysis of mule dung we found that it had high calorific content and hence it was a significant source of energy. We proposed a multi-pronged technological solution which was capable of retrieving sufficient energy from dung to suffice all cooking needs (equivalent of 50 lpg cyllinders per day) and heating needs of the shrine area!
I received a personal note of appreciation by the CEO of the shrine board on completion of the project. The success of the project was discussed at numerous manager level meetings and it found mention in ABC's 2010-2011 annual report. My supervisor and area convenor recognized my leadership role in this endeavor with bonus award and double pay hike.
As highlighted in this episode, I would like my teammates to know that I am a firm believer in the notion that mature leadership, effective teamwork and passion for a cause can turn even waste into gold!!