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Celebrating the Contrarian @Elevar

Diversity and its impact on the Elevar culture

If you were to profile the quintessential Elevarian, you’d find yourself facing a motley crew. Our personnel data would tell you that an Elevarian you met had a higher probability of being a woman than a man. It would say that our qualifications offer a far broader spectrum than just business degrees, ranging from specializations in law, economics, industrial engineering and zoology. And that our team speaks more than a dozen languages, with representation from both hemispheres of the earth.

And as you began to dig deeper, you’d find many aspects that data does not reveal: for instance, we have a national level swimmer, and the Indian equivalent of a county level cricket player. The person behind all the wonderful team images on the website is a team member who moonlights as an amateur photographer. You’d also come across the travelling Elevarian (in a pre-Covid world), spotted more often hitching a ride on the next available train or bike or bus than in an airport lounge, preferring to spend time with local families in the hinterlands of India and Latin America, exploring the local food and culture and learning experientially about the aspirations and challenges of our customer segments. Many important investment calls have been taken based on learnings from these wanderings, as this article will tell you.

A rich tapestry of life experiences would further enrich the picture: one of our partners has worked in a garment factory and for a two wheeler dealership in his early days, while another has held a range of jobs from secretarial work to audio voice overs for children’s stories. Yet another partner studied at affordable private schools catering to kids from low to middle income communities, started his career at his family’s traditional agri business and continues to send his children to the same kind of schools he went to. And then we must tell you about the partner who drove around Mexico at the age of 19, interviewing factory managers for a research project, and about the team member who spent almost a year living with a family in a Nepalese village as part of development work with an NGO. This potpourri of backgrounds includes former LPs (limited partners), entrepreneurs, school teachers and even zumba instructors.

We experientially know the value of representation, in an industry with a severe dearth of it*. Diversity in gender, religion, nationalities, ethnicities, interests and life experiences makes for livelier and more enriching interactions when people choose to bring those aspects of themselves to work. 

New and opposing points of view are welcome at Elevar, because we all know that they push our thinking beyond what we thought was possible. Our raucous celebration of diverse views by constantly challenging each other has led to some calling it a miracle that we are ever able to arrive at a common decision. In the end, however, there is almost always clarity – thanks to a mutual passion for the end customer, an aligned value system, and immense respect for each other. 

If one wants to tackle inequity in the world, what better place to start than at home? A hiring practice we’re proud of is that we are brand agnostic on a potential hire’s pedigree, preferring applied skills and fit of the individual’s values with that of the organization and the answer to the all-important question – “Would we enjoy bantering with this person at our lunch table, real or virtual?”. Perhaps it is because of the fact that we live and work in an organization where the entrepreneurial spirit is valued, that potential is as important as performance. And so, we have built in flexibility for everyone to craft their own careers at Elevar, based on their interests, strengths and realities in life. We strive to create a workplace that enables each person to bring out their best and whole self. And above all, we value the uniqueness of each Elevarian, because we believe that this adds to the strength, judgement and capabilities of our team. 

*Recruiting for diversity in VC