Founder and CEO
A Chartered Accountant by profession and having worked close to two decades in the Finance sector, Manjula Basant Rai, Founder, and CEO of Spaanda, always felt something was missing and sometimes questioned the purpose of her journey. While at Tesco, she stumbled across sustainability by chance, and that was her light bulb moment. In a flash, she knew what she could do and what she had to do. “Spaanda was born in my thoughts and over time I gave it shape and form in my own head. I had a vision of what I wanted to offer and where we could add value to businesses and corporates. I launched Spaanda in August 2020, right in the middle of Covid but I knew deep down we had a solid proposition that would thrive in a world that was gearing up to face the challenges of climate change,” she explains. “When I was working in the corporate world I realised that navigating climate change and performing risk assessments could be tricky. Spaanda was born to address this gap.”
The company partners with corporates, understands their business strategy, plans and processes, and helps them assess the challenges posed by climate change. They work out a plan together and assist them in executing that plan over time while allowing them to report the assessment findings. “We pride ourselves in being there for our clients when they need us and being able to offer them the service they need. No client query is too mundane or small for us to address. As a boutique consultancy business, we are nimble and agile enough to adapt to the needs and the requirements of our clients,” adds Manjula.
Spaanda prides itself in serving well-known brands of the British corporate landscape and working with FTSE100 companies. They have created and built trust with their clients and continue to help them and address their needs.
According to Manjula, being an entrepreneur comes with challenges, sleepless nights, and the constant uncertainty of how one will survive in such a competitive world. “I am however a very resilient person who has always dared to dream! I come from Mauritius- a small dot on the world map. When I was at school I always got inspired by people who were go-getters- those who had a dream and did everything to pursue it,” she says. “I always wanted to pursue my higher education in the UK, a very costly dream for me because of the high tuition and maintenance fees. I however did not lose hope and kept working towards fulfilling my dream. And I did it- I got into Cambridge with a full scholarship.” That was a massive moment for Manjula because it made her realize that one can even fulfill their wildest dreams with perseverance, dedication, and single-mindedness! That helped shape her as an individual and believe in her dream to make Spaanda a reality.
A passionate woman at heart, Manjula is helping businesses tackle climate change and gearing themselves to face the challenges brought about by climate change. She believes an entrepreneur should be passionate about what they do, and conveying that to customers and employees helps bring clarity and confidence on why they exist, “passion is very contagious. I always look for people who are passionate when I recruit for Spaanda. The Spaanda team is made of people who are passionate about our purpose, the greater purpose of Sustainability and Climate change.” She adds, “Yes, we all work to pay the bills but the inherent purpose and the job satisfaction comes from loving what you do. I am very particular about the people I bring on and once they come on board the goal is for the individual to grow within Spaanda.”
Being a steadfast leader, Manjula challenges her team members, all the while motivating them. “I always tell them the realities of the working world are that you will join an organization, work a few years and move on, while you are working with me, my duty is to make sure you grow and evolve in your career. You only get the best of your employees by caring for them and making sure they achieve their life goals. It then becomes a win-win situation both for the company and the workforce.”
“I am a very good listener, I believe we have 2 ears and 1 mouth for a reason! And we should use them in that same ratio! Listening to customers and understanding what their needs are, anticipating their demands is very important in managing customer relationships,” elucidates Manjula. “Making their lives easy, knowing what their challenges are and holding their hands through the process is what I take pride in being Spaanda’s USP. Many big companies offer what Spaanda offers. However, where we differ is the personalized and customized approach. I am a phone call or an email away from my clients. We are very flexible and make sure we attend to our clients queries on the same day.”
Sacrifices for A Better Tomorrow
There were times when Manjula’s children were growing up, and she could not be there at all times. Working in finance sometimes meant that she would not get home till past midnight, especially in the busy periods. There were missed evenings, and she could not do school pick-ups or sports days as other mothers did. “However much I tried to be there at school events and functions, there were the odd times where I had to miss them due to work commitments. And the feeling of guilt and sorrow really bothers you,” she says. “But, my four children have always supported me and I am thankful and grateful for that.”
The most critical leadership lesson Manjula has learned is that a woman is born with innate and specific characteristics. “Be yourself, be authentic. Men have their own unique characteristics and their own leadership style. Women have their own styles based on their own individualities. Each style works in its own way. Be who you are and develop your own style. As I always say motherhood is an excellent teacher and I apply these lessons in the way I lead,” she says.