It is sometimes thought that there is a dichotomy between for-profit companies and not-for-profit companies. But the world has become more adaptive and encouraging of corporate responsibility and activity. Consumers are looking for organizations that not only provide a valuable service or product, but also show that they have a corporate heart. Although sometimes still at odds, the gaps between these two are closing. The key is in the leadership of both types of organizations and how their skills are utilized and applied.
Chaya Pamula, President and CEO of PamTen, Inc., recently spoke to a group of Harvard Law students about this very subject. The students, members of the Harvard Student Organizations Social Enterprise Law Association (SELA), SALSA (South Asian Law Students Association), and LIDS (Law and International Development Society) gathered at a workshop to discuss how her work, business acumen, and leadership skills in these seemingly opposing sectors have mutually reinforced each other. Chaya’s expertise comes from being the founder and driving force not only of PamTen, but of an NGO named SOFKIN (Support Organization for Kids in Need). She has been leading both organizations for nearly a decade, finding innovative ways to connect her business with her passion for giving back.
Chaya’s workshop looked at the challenges faced by non-profit organizations and those faced by for profit organizations. She also looked at the rising occurrence of the “Social Enterprise.” This is an organization that applies commercial strategies towards supporting a social cause and not just to maximizing profits for shareholders. But – there are profits, and these organizations are selling their goods or services.
Where NGO’s are often most challenged is in the leadership. The passion for the charitable cause is there, but the skill for leading others and maintaining the “business of being charitable” can fall short. Planning for the future is often put off to respond to the present emergency or issue. Definitions of each person’s roles in the organization are sometimes muddled.
Conversely, businesses are sometimes so focused on planning solely on profit, they do not get the best from their employees and miss key opportunities for growth by showing their more charitable side.
Chaya has successfully managed PamTen and SOFKIN, as well as recently founding the network, Global Women’s League. Her success has been in leveraging what she learned in one arena and applying it to the other. Her unique perspective on her definition of leadership is 'Empowering others'. This applies to –
SOFKIN: Empowering Women & Children
Global Women’s League: Women Empowering Women
PamTen Inc: Empowering Employees & Customers
Leadership that is always learning, always engaging constituents, filled with passion for the work at hand, and planning for the future will be a driving force for an organization, whether it be a for-profit or non-profit.
(Chaya Pamula is the co-founder, President and CEO of PamTen, inc., an IT solutions, strategy & staffing company. She has also founded SOFKIN and the Global Womens’ League. She also serves as a trustee for Maher, Gender Reconciliation International, and Satyana Institute. For more information about any of these organizations, or to contact Chaya for a speaking engagement or leadership workshop, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-643-4228.)