Tech Mahindra – advocating work-life balance through sports

Singapore Squash Rackets Association (SSRA)

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By Alex Wan

Mahindra is a household name in India, being one of the larger corporate groups in the nation. Incorporated in 1945 as a steel trading company and today, it employs over 240,000 people in over 100 countries.

They are certainly no newcomer in the squash scene, having been the title sponsor of the 1998 Men’s World Open, where England’s (then Scottish) Peter Nicol beat his arch-rival Jonathan Power of Canada in the final at the Khalifa Sports Complex in Doha, Qatar.

Fast forward 23 years, the Indian group’s technology arm, Tech Mahindra, is now one of SGSquash’s newest donor, when they came in as the title sponsor of the Tech Mahindra SGSquash Novice Tournament.

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Photo: Prize plaques to be awarded to the winners of the Tech Mahindra SGSquash Men’s & Women’s Novice Tournament 2021

Founded in 1986, Tech Mahindra contributes over US$5b of revenue to the group. That is about 25% of the group’s total revenue, making one of the largest. They are powered by close to 125,000 employees worldwide, with a third of them in Asia.  Singapore, being its regional hub, houses 1,000 employees (during non-COVID times) in their office at the Changi Business Park.

Locally, on the enterprise part of the business, Tech Mahindra does a lot of work for the public sector, banking and financial services, as well as insurance companies. One other major part of their business is Communications, Media and Entertainment , where they help telecom companies on digitalisation and as they go into 5G, help them industrialise their solutions in the different industries.

SGSquash caught up with two of Tech Mahindra’s leaders – Mr Jason Ong, the Senior Vice-President Communications, Media and Entertainment (Asia Pacific),  who is the main man behind the sponsorship, and also Mr Shashiraj BV, Group Human Resources Manager (Asia Pacific) – to understand the story behind their support.

“It took a day”, said Mr Jason Ong when asked how long it took to decide on sponsoring the event. Given that Mr Ong himself an active squash player and a good friend of Singapore Squash Rackets Association (SSRA) President Mr Patrick Thio, it must’ve been a much easier decision to make.

Mr Shashiraj also jumped in to add, “Tech Mahindra promotes a whole lot of work-life balance. It’s not just about work, but also to look at having a whole lot fun at work. We promote a lot of sports events and activities to bring together our employees for them to get energised.”

When probed further about what the company does to promote the work-life balance element, Mr Shasiraj added that in each of Tech Mahindra’s location, there is a Location Council, which largely focuses on making the company the best place to work. Amongst the activities undertaken by the councils include hearing out employees’ concerns and also looking a lot on the training and development.

“At the same time, there are also sub-councils that focuses on fun related activities including sports. We do have sports groups, such as a badminton and futsal group who plays weekly. Now, we know we can easily form a squash group too, seeing many of our people have enrolled in this (novice tournament)”, adds Mr Shashiraj. He even went on to say that after watching the finals today, the next thing he is going to do is buy a squash racket and start playing!

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Photo: Prize presentation ceremony and guests from tournament sponsor- Tech Mahindra. From left to right: Mr Shashiraj B V (Group Manager-HR, APAC), Mr Manish Goenka (VP & Head of ASEAN), Mr Jason Ong, Mr Bryden Yong and Mr Timothy Soh

Mr Shashiraj will not have trouble finding coaches in the company, as Tech Mahindra seem to be attracting some of our top squash talents into their workforce. Former national junior Timothy Soh and Bryden Yong are based in Singapore, while Ivan Yap is based in Bangkok, Thailand.

Sports, as we all know, inculcates many positive attributes to an individual. Many who have embraced it will testify that through sport, they have learned certain things which they are able to apply to in their professional life.

It is no different for Mr Ong, who plays squash several times a week. We asked him how has squash helped him as a leader in Tech Mahindra and he said, “Squash is a game that requires a lot of endurance, and in business, it’s always like that. There is a lot of work that requires perseverance. In squash, where it is very physically demanding, we play with a ‘never give up’ and ‘never say die’ attitude, and it is very much the same at work. Both are mentally and physically demanding.”

Meanwhile, Mr Shashiraj feels that sports is essential and relevant for him in order to be at his best at work. He said, “If I do not play sports at least once a week, I really feel down at work. I’d say it’s really a motivational factor. I definitely see in our employees, that everyone has to recreate and for that to happen, something from their normal routine has to break. Sports is definitely an area where one can really energise themselves.”

Tech Mahindra does everything in its power for their employees, their families and even customers

While Tech Mahindra is able to support a squash tournament in the safe haven of Singapore during these trying times, things back in the organisation’s home country of India is quite the opposite. Given the timing of the event and what is happening in India, we took the opportunity to find out how Tech Mahindra play their part.

With infections getting out of hand in India and the healthcare sector being significantly overwhelmed, Tech Mahindra has gone the extra mile by setting up a helpline and an emergency desk. This service is not only for their employees, but also for their customers who may not have such a large infrastructure, where they can call to ask for emergency assistance – be it for a bed in hospitals or an emergency need for respirators.

Mr Shashiraj shared that some of their larger facilities in India have since been converted into quarantine centres with a good level of facilities to treat people. He also added, “As an organisation, we are fully committed to do what we can to support our employees, their families and a lot to the society”, referring to the current situation in India.

The organisation is also fully supportive of having all their employees vaccinated and has worked alongside the Indian government to setup vaccination centres for their own employees. Globally, the company has also taken on all vaccination costs of their employees, where they would be reimbursed for any cost they have or would incur.

Given Tech Mahindra’s take on work-life balance and how they are aiding their employees, their families and some customers through this COVID-19 times, it is hardly surprising that they were in the top quartile of last year’s Great Place To Work study in India, and was the best “Mega Employer” (more than 50k employees).

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Players battling it out in the Finals of the Men’s Novice category in the Tech Mahindra SGSquash Men’s & Women’s Novice Tournament 2021