Environmental, Social, and Governance Co-innovation

Partnership in Action: Technology Leaders Address Challenges at Sustainability Ecosystem Connect, Hosted by VMware India

Sustainability is a major focus for VMware’s Office of the CTO (OCTO). In service of this mission, India’s OCTO team is driving programs and initiatives that are moving the needle forward in significant ways.

India has become a hotspot for technology companies and innovation — making this the perfect time and place to build a coalition of diverse players enabling digital transformation across sectors. These partnerships could leverage India’s startup ecosystem, working together to develop innovative ways to make a difference.

Taking initiative and driving progress

On October 15, 2020, VMware India hosted an industry-first session at Sustainability Ecosystem Connect. We brought together internal senior business leaders and ecosystem partners, such as Dell, Schneider Electric, Ikea, Microsoft, Saahas, and Ensyde, to share key insights on the evolving nature of sustainability.

In the opening keynote, VMware’s VP of Sustainability Strategy Nicola Acutt defined the premise for the discussion on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues and their importance in business strategy. Next, the session featured a panel discussion, in which participants discussed how businesses are looking to partner with environmentally and socially responsible companies. Pradeep Nair, VP and Managing Director of VMware India, shared studies showing an increase in Indian customers seeking to buy from environmentally responsible businesses across sectors in B2C and B2B.

Deepak Ohlyan, VP of Global Facilities Management for Dell Technologies, shared a great collaboration story of Dell’s ocean-bound plastic program and how a supplier from the India region came forward to partner on this global effort. Major Gopika Pawar, Sustainability Business Partner at Ikea India, discussed the supply-chain engagement, development, and empowerment approach Ikea employs to bring supply chain along in the journey to be more sustainable. “It’s not a yes-or-no approach, but rather a ‘let’s work together on this journey,’” Pawar said. This partnership has the potential to make supply chain sustainable using the “Ikea Way” (IWAY) — the Ikea supplier code of conduct, she explained.

A deep dive into practical strategies

The panelists dug deeper into topics focused around mainstream climate action in organizations of all sizes and explored examples of how to effectively create a sense of ownership. Dr. Shivkumar, CTO of Energy and Mobility for Microsoft R&D India and Azure Global, explained that sustainability should be top of mind and that it is the responsibility of each individual at the company. Microsoft’s initiative is strongly backed by holistic goals and sponsored by leadership.

Ramkumar Narayanan, VP of Technology and Managing Director for VMware India, emphasized the importance of building sustainability into every enterprise’s long-term corporate priorities (as we do at VMware). This focus can inspire action and activate employee engagement. Manvel Alur, CEO of Ensyde, and Divya Tiwari, CEO of Saahas, shared a development-sector perspective to highlight the importance of bringing small- and medium-sized businesses (the supply chains of multinational companies) along in the journey. They also discussed the role businesses can play in influencing public policy across all levels of government.

The panel concluded with three major areas of partnership, accompanied by clear calls to action:

  1. Harness the full potential of technology to jointly solve societal issues
  2. Use our collective influence to advocate for climate policy in India across all levels of government
  3. Develop ideas that may help inspire employees’ passion to build a better community for all

The partnership affirmed that the time has come for a new leadership mindset that will elevate sustainability from a “nice-to-have” to a strategic imperative integrated into every part of the business.


Shalini Singh is the Senior Manager, Sustainable Operations for VMware, Bangalore, where she leads strategy and operational alignment with functional teams for sustainable business operations and VMware’s carbon accounting and CDP reporting in the Office of the CTO. Prior to VMware, she worked for Stanford University, leading carbon accounting, the sustainable IT program, and demand-side energy management. She began her career in design/project delivery and transitioned to operations finance and program management at Intel and Applied Materials. Shalini is a technologist at heart and a trained Architect with an MBA from San Jose State University.