Meet global social entrepreneur, change maker and all round team player, Dharmesh Mistry.
Where are you based currently in the NW?
I’ve gone full circle. After University in the midlands and work in London, India and Holland I have returned to the familiar surrounds of home in Warrington.
What’s your background and what do you currently do professionally?
I studied Computer Science, worked in management consultancy, accountancy and the oil industry. Throughout that time I was active in various community roles through University and beyond. That laid the foundations for a 5 month visit to India which became a 4 year stint to run a Fellowship , develop a sport for development programme and be on the ground as social enterprise was emerging through micro-finance. My current work through Reos Partners, Perspectivity and Project Chakra allow me to bring those diverse experiences and interests together to work on exciting and impactful change projects with clients as diverse as the Big Lottery Fund, Unilever, Oxfam, Manchester Business School and many others.
What social actions are you passionate about?
I believe in change that comes at intersections (sports + development, leadership + identity, business + impact). I am a generalist and a learner. Over time I have learned through student societies, grassroots community development, leadership programmes and team sports. I am interested in building communities in diasporas and encouraging value-based leadership that is grounded in faith and identity. I am interested in the role that identity plays in how people place themselves in their communities and how that motivates them (or not) be take a more proactive and positive role in their local and international communities.
What social action projects are you involved in and how could other fellows get involved?
I am trustee of a charity called Connect India which creates immersive opportunities for 2nd/3rd generation British Indians to explore their identity and through that nurture their leadership potential to apply their talents to affect change both at home in the UK and in the country of their ancestors. Through that, we are connecting with other diaspora communities to share experiences and ideas and nurture an environment where subtle questions can be explored rather than simply be swept under the carpet in the routine of daily life. It would be great to connect and learn from Fellows who have experience at the intersection of personal leadership and community development.
When did you become a fellow and who or what motivated you to join?
I became a Fellow when I returned to the UK after spending 6 years out of the country and 12 years out of the region. It has allowed me to connect to like minded and motivated individuals from a wide range of organisations, sectors and interests and made returning home less alien.
How have you been involved with RSA to date – locally or nationally? Is there anything else you’d like to be more involved in?
I started by attending networking events. Before I knew it I was volunteering at events and even designed and hosted a new event with another RSA Fellow. Since then I have become part of the Northwest team. I am also connected to the RSA Diaspora Changemakers and Centenary Young Fellows Programmes. I’d like to take the conversations with the national programmes towards some practical outcomes.
If you woke up suddenly one morning and you could gain a new skill, what would it be?
I’ve not kept up with digital technology and haven’t made/had the time to learn it properly. It would be really useful to be able to customise web pages and do graphic design work with the ease I use standard tools like word processors or spreadsheets.
If you could have dinner with a social change agent or social enterpreneur, living or dead, who would it be, why and what would you eat?
Elon Musk is, in my opinion, a visionary – a term I don’t use lightly. Before online payments were common place he created and sold PayPal and now is working on two world changing companies Tesla and SpaceX. Having the ability to see, imagine, create far far in to the future is a rare gift. This is not just about disrupting business, this is about shaping the future. I’d want to eat the (vege) meal he imagines serving customers as they take a flight to space on board the Falcon9!
What RSA NW activities would you like to see happen?
Some kind of a co-working community space where we have a diverse group of people working on their own ideas but also committing to finding shared ideas/innovations we can collectively contribute to.
- More than just coffee – a new co-working space for Manchester: http://www.rsablogs.org.uk/2014/fellowship/big-idea-coffee/
- RSA Diaspora changemakers: http://www.thersa.org/action-research-centre/community-and-public-services/diaspora-changemakers
- Centenary Young Fellows Programmes: http://www.thersa.org/support-the-rsa/centenary-young-fellows
- Rebootins social media: http://comment.rsablogs.org.uk/2012/09/17/rebooting-social-media/