Kunal Sood, Partner & National Sector Leader (Government), Grant Thornton Bharat LLP

Kunal comes with over 18 years of experience in the development sector. He has diverse expertise and has assisted governments, multilateral organisations, industry bodies, and the private sector in designing and implementing programmes for the promotion of industrial infrastructure,  MSMEs, skills, agribusiness, livelihoods, and investments.  The assignments Kunal has worked on led him to work in the areas of programme management, capacity building,  monitoring and evaluation, and policy and strategy formulation. He has also worked with multilateral organisations like UNIDO, national resource institutions like  EDII, and various other advisory organisations.  

 

Over my career working in the development sector, I have been afforded the opportunity to interact with the bright young minds of our nation. These curious minds are educated at some of the finest institutions in the country, pursuing a diverse range of specialisations, and taking up jobs working part-time as fellows or volunteers in the development sector. I can say without a doubt that my interactions with these leaders of tomorrow are some of the most cherished highlights of my career.

Often, these interactions revolve around the pertinent question of the future of the development sector, and whether one should consider a career in this space. I am a strong believer in the idea that our future will be defined by the thought-leadership of generations to come and endeavour to instil this idea in those whom I encounter. The opportunities are rampant – with the Government sector, multilaterals, impact funds, consulting organisations that advise Govts and development organisations, Not for Profits, Start-ups, etc

For a nation as diverse and complex as India, it is important to introduce an element of cognitive and demographic diversity in the development sector. However, working in development is no walk in the park. Here are a few reasons I believe one should explore a future in the development sector, and invest in the future of our nation, along with some insights from the field, to enable you to make the right decision for both yourself, as well as the sustained development of our nation.

  • A Call to Action: India has long been the centre of global attention as the next big economic growth case study after China. This is, in large part, due to our young population. A global IT superpower, India is ranked as the 10th best country according to the Global Cybersecurity Index 2020. On the other hand, India ranked 94 among 107 countries in the Global Hunger Index 2020 and is in the ‘serious’ hunger category with a score of 27.2, with our corruption rank slipping six places to 86th among 180 countries in the corruption perception index (CPI) in 2020. A nation of complex duality, it comes as no surprise that we are in dire need of the brightest minds working to mitigate these intricate and complex issues. However, one must also remember that ambiguity and complexities are commonplace in development and require a patient hand and a long-term vision to effectively combat.
  • Scope for Improvement: One of the major lacunae of the development sector is the availability of professional skills. This lack of skilled professionals is a major contributor to the low impact of development projects. For professional services firms like Grant Thornton Bharat, this discrepancy is a major point of focus that we endeavour to effectively address. In my experience, the qualified youth of our nation today are keener to contribute to the wider national ecosystem than to a corporate environment, where the scope for impact is far more limited, and benefit from the associated accountability of generating a positive impact on society through pursuing careers in development advisory.
  • Giving Back to Society: Many youngsters who end up working in development are drawn to do so because they are good human beings, attracted to the idea of giving back to the nation that they were raised in. While working in the development sector is indeed a noble pursuit, it is important to remember your motivations when dealing with the challenges of a full-time career in this space, so as not to get discouraged.

All the above are trying to solve real problems of the society or specific groups of the society like women, farmers, youth, etc. Professionals can bring the most scarce resource which is technical and managerial skills to increase the impact of development programs/ projects. In my view that alone is what is missing. Otherwise Govts, multilateral has enough financial resources as also an understanding of the issues. What is lacking is the capacity to design, implement and achieve scale.

Young people and professionals in return for their commitment – gain satisfaction from their work and have contributed to a teal solution which may not be the case with other sectors that have focused on profits alone. Growth begins from within, and introspection and insights into our motivations go hand-in-hand with our actions. At Grant Thornton, we are helping shape a more vibrant Bharat.

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