Sowing the seeds of
Through the MET initiative, Viresh Oberoi wants to encourage a dialogue that inspires potential change agents to take leadership and make a difference in society
leader with foresight, Viresh Oberoi, founder CEO and MD of mjunction services, has not just leveraged the internet to drive efficiency and transparency in business, he has taken this process to newer heights. Under his leadership, the company has evolved from a fledgling start-up in 2001 to India’s largest e-commerce company and the world’s largest e-marketplace for steel. The company’s biggest achievement has been to transform the country’s steel and coal supply chains. Through thought leadership
in business, Viresh has been able to eliminate middlemen and provide a more transparent platform to both buyers and sellers in a niche market segment. Viresh has always believed in a higher calling. Going a step forward, he conceptualised the Movement for Efficiency and Transparency (MET) in an attempt to fight the thickening cloud of corruption all around. Based on the two cornerstones of transparency and efficiency, Viresh formulated MET to recognise individuals, citizens’ bodies and organisations involved in transforming society.
Oct-Dec 2013 | Tata Sphere
Talking about change is often the first step that leads to big change and MET aims to do just that. It provides a platform to people who have transcended barriers of bureaucracy, inefficiency and opaqueness to share their success stories and ideas for the future so that others can get inspired and involved in the change-making process. Viresh says, “One of the primary objectives was to encourage these agents of change to strive further and contribute to inclusive growth, without which no nation can prosper.” In August 2011, MET was kick-started in Kolkata after many rounds of brainstorming. Viresh explains, “Long before MET was launched, I toyed with several ideas on how to bring together people who were doing good work. These were people who did not make excuses. These were people who had a goal and worked towards it undaunted. And most importantly, they were able to make a difference, even if in a small way.” Viresh not only wanted to showcase the work of the change-makers, he firmly believed that common men needed a platform where they could listen to and interact with such people, draw inspiration from their success stories and perhaps try to replicate them in their own lives.
At every MET conference, leaders and visionaries are invited to share their success stories that others can replicate
18 Tata Sphere |Oct-Dec 2013
And that is how MET came into being. He says, “The idea was mine, but my colleagues helped me shape it.” MET celebrates and recognises efficiency and transparency in any and every aspect of life. Though it essentially operates as a conference, MET’s impact is far-reaching. At every conference, Viresh invites some of the country’s most committed leaders and visionaries to throw light on and share examples of how efficiency and transparency have paved the way for inclusive and sustainable growth. The first MET conference was held in Kolkata in August 2011 and the latest one in Chennai in July 2013, in association with 5th Pillar, a Chennai-based nonprofit, non-governmental organisation that fights corruption. The conferences, organised in association with public and private organisations, are a platform to engage in a social dialogue that enables people to learn from the struggles and victories of others and inspire them to be fearless and initiate a change in their own lives. It primarily facilitates an environment where exchange of knowledge and guidance can take place in the presence of those leading from the front. MET has travelled to several places in the country and received tremendous response from both policy makers and administrators, especially from the young brigade of professionals and students. Several people have expressed their gratitude on getting this opportunity to interact with so many change-agents at one event. Anil Chaudhary, finance director at Steel Authority of India, wrote to Viresh after one of the events held at Durgapur: “With corruption being the talk of the day, the MET initiative to bring in transparency and efficiency can be termed as the most noble cause for the common man today.” Participation in MET conferences is primarily by invitation. While some change-makers are
invited to speak to a larger audience, others are featured on the MET website as part of a series of inspiring stories of the victory of individual efforts in the field of social causes. But Viresh ensures that every conference is attended by a cross-section of people, including local administrators, thought leaders, businessmen, and very importantly, young professionals and students who will have the drive and the ability to catalyse the change. With a whole day devoted to inspiring stories of change and dedication, the meetings strike a chord in the hearts of all those attending the conference. Viresh says, “Even if one person tries to make a small difference, MET would have achieved its purpose.” For Viresh, the change has already begun to take shape. The movement has received overwhelming response from the audience in the seven cities where it has been taken so far. In the next 12 months, the team has plans to expand the footprint and take MET to six more small and large cities across India. There are also plans to introduce MET awards. MET has a growing community on Facebook with a captive, involved audience of more than 18,000 users. The movement has been recognised by the United Nations Global Compact and has been included in a case study published on anti-corruption efforts in India. Talking about why initiatives like MET are growing popular, Viresh says, “In India especially, we are victims as well as, sometimes unknowingly, perpetrators of this malaise of corruption. It has somehow become part of our ecosystem. Maybe that is why individual stories of determination, courage, selflessness and honesty appeal to the common man. I feel we are short on heroes and that is what we get at our MET events. It creates the immediate connect — the dream of how we would like things to be as opposed to how they are.”
inspiring the young
At his workplace too, Viresh Oberoi, CEO and MD, mjunction services, is continuously inspiring his employees to make a difference in the lives of others. In 2006, mjunction formed a trust called ejunction to e-enable financially underprivileged students and help them become employable. What sets ejunction apart from other similar ventures is that mjunction employees double up as trainers, and that format continues till date even as the company has grown. The most senior and most junior employees volunteer to take classes after office hours, double up as invigilators for the examinations, correct answer scripts, tabulate mark sheets, act as placement coordinators and even hold mock group discussions. It is a purely voluntary activity but works at the core of mjunction’s ethos. Apart from mjunction’s own centre in its office premises, ejunction has developed seven captive centres in and around Kolkata that disseminate the four-month module. ejunction now also offers placement opportunities to students. Since last year, about 240 employment opportunities have been created in several different fields. The movement is ongoing and is gathering momentum. As it picks up, it is sure to change the lives of those it has touched. Viresh believes that the change from within will take time but it is the ultimate objective of the movement. Shilpa Sachdev
Oct-Dec 2013 | Tata Sphere
The mjunction MD and CEO, Mr Viresh Oberoi, features in the latest issue of Tata Sphere, a premium magazine from the Tata Group.