As a self-made entrepreneur, Vijay Eswaran found himself looking for inspiration as he branched out from existing corporate offerings and sought to make a name for himself and his aspirations. In doing so, he drew strongly upon his upbringing and the values that his father had instilled in him. While not an entrepreneur himself, Eswaran’s father cultivated a clear understanding in his son about the importance of giving back to the community and lived by a service above self principle that helped guide his own endeavors as a youth leader. To this day, Vijay Eswaran continues to place serving others as a tenet of his own businesses and encourage others to understand that success in business comes not just from corporate ventures but also from giving back to others.
Today, Vijay Eswaran is the executive chairman of his own multi-conglomerate company and advocate for its philanthropic arm, RYTHM. Operations are, in part, based on the example of Mahatma Gandhi who taught others to raise themselves up so that they can be of use to other people. From this, Eswaran coined the phrase “raise yourself to help mankind,” which became the basis of not only for the RYTHM Foundation but also a variety of decisions made in the management of the main corporate entity. The company remains focused on providing economic opportunities for others, especially in the South and Southeast Asia regions, while also driving efforts in sustainability, integrity, and community development.
Success to Eswaran includes running an organization that contributes a positive impact to the community that it serves. His company sets aside a portion of its profits each year to give back to the community and donates to a number of recognized associations the world over. RYTHM Foundation was founded on the premise that Vijay Eswaran and his leadership team would be able to better direct funds to those who need them most.
The Foundation focuses its efforts in the categories of education, gender equality, and sustainable development and aligns its programs with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. These are designed to help create peace and prosperity for people across the globe through a concerted, interlinked effort. Eswaran explained, “For companies that want to make a difference and don’t know where to begin, the SDGs serve as a useful guide in identifying the type of actions you want to be involved in that will make an impact for a better and more sustainable future for your community.”
These tenets run up the corporate ladder to Eswaran himself, who firmly believes in value-based leadership as a key to success. We live in a world today that is becoming increasingly divided and polarized,” said Eswaran. “It is only by developing calmness and clear-sightedness that we can help others and, in so doing, even help ourselves. This is only possible when we are guided by a strong value system.” To this end, he endeavors in business to put others ahead of himself and strives to ensure that his various ventures serve a greater purpose than simply profit and the bottom line for the company. “When it is profit versus personal values, the values will always trump. I have no problem walking away from a business deal if it doesn’t align with my values,” shared Eswaran.
This mentality allows Vijay Eswaran to lead by example when it comes to both his for-profit business and his nonprofit programs. By dedicating himself to the success of others, he is also able to encourage his employees to do the same. Programs throughout his corporate ventures include sustainable measures such as banning single-use plastics and transitioning to eco-friendly packaging materials for their own products.
Employees are educated starting with the interview and onboarding process regarding the company’s stance on key issues, and they’re encouraged to do their part to help. This includes allowing up to 16 hours per employee each year for them to dedicate themselves to their own communities to give back. Since the program’s launch, employees have dedicated over 100,000 hours of volunteer time to serve others. Overseeing a global company with a diverse business model may seem difficult to unite under a common banner, but Eswaran has done so effectively through his model of philanthropy. “The common thread that connects them is that each entity is driven by the desire to make a positive social impact,” explained Eswaran.