Moving forward is the mantra of Paul Dupuis, CEO of staffing and HR solutions firm Randstad India. And he believes in 'doing well' and 'doing good'. This simple motto has helped him shape a new world for himself and the people around him. After living in some of the most vibrant countries, the Canadian professional is now in India, not only 'helping people find job' but also leading his organisation in taking up social responsibilities which other Chief Executive Officers (CEO) would normally dismiss as mere adventurism. It's during one of those adventures that Outlook caught up with the life-long ice hockey fanatic and the CEO of Randstad India in Leh, then in Delhi and talked about a myriad of things. Dupuis, who turned 52 on February 11, has been visiting Ladakh for some years, trying to connect with his first love, ice. Here are excerpts...
“Helping somebody find a job is one of the best things you can do for somebody”
It's important that we understand Corporate Social Responsibility. CSR has been a buzzword for a long time now, for many years. Some companies get it right, and frankly, some companies don't. The moment I can say a company is not getting it right is when they put CSR under marketing, as part of marketing. Then it's not CSR. It's marketing. The purpose is different. At Randstad, CSR is standalone. It's not about marketing. Our business is about living our values. And as a staffing and recruiting company, one of the largest one in the world, we are number one, we have very strong core values, and we have principles, and the one is 'Human Forward'. It’s about helping people forward, and how can you do it? How can you find a job? Helping somebody find a job is one of the best things you can do for somebody.
“It's amazing what sports can do”
In Ladakh, there's very little economy and very little to do in the winter. So hockey actually gives a purpose, and with purpose comes self-esteem, hope, and friendship and help build community. It's amazing what sports can do. Then, I thought, how we can help this out. Of course, climate change is another part. It's reality, without ice we can't play ice hockey. I got very motivated to help people in Ladakh get on the ice. How do you do that? You got to get them equipment. I can't do anything with the ice, because someone's [Nature] deciding this for us. But the equipment, that's what it got me very excited. So I made a call to action, called a lot of my friends, ice hockey players, again the community – in Japan, Canada, Singapore and the US. They started to gather equipment, starting with skates. They carried them to India, to Ladakh with Randstad covering the cost of all that. And I am very sure we can mitigate climate change.
Adopting ice rink
That's one of our CSR commitments, one of our best. Then, we did something very special, we took all that equipment, more than 500 kgs of equipment -- mainly skates which are treasures -- and donated to different associations, including Ladakh Winter Sports Club, Ladakh Women's Ice Hockey Foundation and Chuchot Rink in Chuchok village, which I kind of adopted. It’s a fantastic idea to get girls on the ice.
'It's a sad situation in Ladakh'
I am not a scientist, I am not an expert. But, let me tell you what I saw as a hockey player. There are key ingredients you need for a sport. If you want to play cricket, you need a ground. And the ground is there, and then you need a bat and ball. Cricket is there in some easier sort of situation. But for hockey, you absolutely must have ice. There's no hockey without ice. What I have seen it in the few years I have been there, winters are getting shorter in Ladakh, which means the availability of ice to play the game is limited. It used to be four months, then three and now, it's just over two months of ice. Which is really a problem and it's a sad situation. People have the passion for the game. We are giving them equipment, we are giving them the know-how, coaching, etc. But then, the ice is disappearing. That's something we need everyone to help in. And I believe one individual can actually make a difference. Because, when one individual starts moving, another starts moving, then we have a movement. And it can be big.
On sustainable development
Anything that we can do to reduce our impact on the environment is a good thing. But the people of Ladakh are feeling it directly. See the girls from the national team, they told me that the winters are getting shorter. So they can only play less and less and there is no indoor rink. I am a big believer that doing something once is okay, but continuity, scalability and sustainability is the key. So, actually, when we finished The Last Game, the very next morning, I sat down with some of the locals and leaders. I met the lieutenant governor of the Union Territory, and we discussed how we can promote Ladakh as a destination, and thinking about eco-tourism for example. Hockey is universal. Imagine if we make Ladakh a very special destination for hockey and eco-tourism. We have people who have interests in sports, as well as impacting the environment in a positive way... so it could be both playing and learning.
(As told to Jayanta Oinam)