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In 1992, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev started the Isha Foundation in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu with one goal in mind – “to provide that heightened self-awareness that we all need to make a difference in the world.”
Thirty years down the line, the non-profit has become a world-renowned organisation working towards creating “harmony between body mind and spirit” through yoga programs, and social and community development activities. To keep up with the times, the foundation has embraced technology in a big way.
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“Technology plays a crucial role in putting Sadhguru’s wisdom and tools for transformation in the hands of millions of users around the world, and to make it easy for them to interact with Isha – whether they are attending programs, visiting the centres, making a donation, or taking next steps towards their inner growth. We also use technology to organise ourselves and streamline our operations to coordinate 500+ centres across the globe and millions of volunteers,” said Krishna Durgavajhala, head of the IT department, Isha Foundation.
Major tech Initiatives
1. Sadhguru exclusive: An OTT platform that offers authentic mystical and spiritual content.
2. Online Yoga Program Delivery: Teacher and volunteer lead one-on-support, and users are initiated into powerful yoga practices – completely online
3. Project Samskriti: Rekindling interest in Indian classical art and culture in today’s world, through online learning programs
4. Save Soil with Words: A game inspired by Wordle that users can play to virtually ride along with Sadhguru in his 30,000 km journey to SaveSoil, educate themselves about the soil crisis, and share with the world.
Internal Operations: Creating a single backend operations platform to manage all activities of Isha Foundation from users visiting the centres, to donations for the 242 crore trees for Cauvery Calling, to running their kitchens and tending gardens. In outreach activities such as Cauvery Calling, Isha Foundation uses technology to educate farmers and measure and track green cover to help them adopt agroforestry.
User Nurturing: Applications facilitating the nurturing of users, volunteers and donors who interact with Isha team members for program and event registrations, online programs, visit management, communities etc.
The team structure
“Several people, touched deeply by Sadhguru’s work, and by their own experience of transformation, seek to contribute with their technical skills, to take Sadhguru’s message far and wide, and to inspire this possibility in every human being. We have a mix of long term and short-term volunteers with tech industry and entrepreneurial experience who contribute to solving technology problems at Isha,” said Krishna.
“The technology team at Isha has been growing fairly organically so far. While we get support from volunteers, we do have requirements in specific technical areas of expertise and we look to bring in experts from the market. As we prepare to scale up to Sadhguru’s reach and pace of growth, we are looking to grow the team by bringing in high-quality leaders who can take on new challenges, and make impactful contributions with the diverse and floating pool of talent,” he added.
As the lead of the tech team, Krishna is actively looking to hire candidates who are not afraid to take chances, are nimble enough to experiment and fail, and can operate in ambiguous and changing circumstances. “We also look for people who are team players, who are able to put the problems they are solving and the impact of their work above their personal interests,” he said.
Isha Foundation has developed a rigorous selection process that comprises various steps such as initial screening and panel interviews to select the right candidates. “We use various channels like job portals, volunteer networks and social media to reach out to the potential candidates. The open positions are also published on our career website careers.isha.in,” said Krishna.
Many volunteers would attest to the fact that working at Isha is a different experience altogether.
More than 50 percent of the technology team is remote.
“Who else gets to work in an organization for a campaign to Save Soil and reach 3.5 billion people?” Krishna asked!
The work culture is designed with a focus on inner growth. Team members are encouraged to take time off for silence breaks and volunteer for various programs in the centre.
“We also take pride in the fact that we have a very diverse workgroup. Starting from monks who have spent several years at the Yoga Center immersing themselves on the spiritual path to young college grads from various parts of the world as well as the small towns around the Ashram, we foster the talent from truly diverse backgrounds. Many members of the technology team have expressed that they have taken up problems of scope and scale that are multi-fold as compared to what they were doing in their traditional jobs, and so is the fulfilment,” he concluded.