Wisdom Stories Ep.13: Mr. Yogendra Saxena


Cultural expectations surrounding the elderly are being challenged today, and with good reason!

While it was the norm to slow down and retreat into a quieter life post-retirement, more men and women are finding purpose and joy in doing the opposite.

WisdomCircle honours such men and women by shining light on their journey through an inspiring series called “Wisdom Stories”. These people have successfully smashed stereotypes, and their stories remind us that life should be lived to the fullest, no matter what age or stage.

I started my career in consulting with an engineering company, and later went to Jamaica to work on environmental education with UNDP, to build a 3-year curriculum on environmental technology. Success in this role led me to lead initiatives across the wider Caribbean region. This was a turning point in my career that cemented my passion for sustainable development. 

When I shifted back to India in 1990 to join Ambuja Cements, I kept myself updated with academic research on environmental issues. Today I have 175 publications on various topics, and have authored 2 books including an autobiography, while continuing my corporate journey. And to think that I wasn’t even a good student in my youth! 

“The concept of retirement has become redundant in today’s context”

I have always spoken truth to power. If the answer is no, then I have always said it. However, I have backed my position with facts, which helped me build credibility with stakeholders and decision makers.

 I was deeply inspired by the Chairman of Ambuja Cement, Late Mr. Suresh Neotia. I learned 3 things from him – value of time, value of team and the value of excellence.

 What has held me in good stead in a career spanning 4 decades, has been my inclination to learn. I have kept myself abreast of new research, laws and practical implementation issues around environment, either through academic initiatives, certifications or hands on experience. Today I can say that I have expertise in a broad set of topics including environment, health & safety, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), sustainability, bio-diversity and ESG (Environment, Social and Governance).

“I often go to various academic institutions right from primary schools to management institutes, with the goal of sharing my knowledge with the next generation” Photo Credits: Yogendra Saxena

If I could change one thing, I would try to change the attitude of the Indian public on environmental protection & control, be it around garbage segregation, energy conservation, or water conservation. Behavioural change in these areas will go a long way in fighting climate change.

 I often go to various academic institutions right from primary schools to management institutes, with the goal of sharing my knowledge with the next generation. This purpose has kept me active and engaged.

 The concept of retirement has become redundant in todays context. Corporate India needs to change its way, to engage the “wisdom generation” as mentors, change makers and knowledge specialists.

Yogendra Saxena, Former Group Chief Sustainability Officer, Tata Power

Photo and Interview Credits: Saonli Sen Choudhury of WisdomCircle

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