Sumathy Krishnan
Consultant, founder - Sustainpath
Sumathy's introduction

I am a sustainability cum social sector professional and a writer, all my passions and pursuits linked by the common thread of sustainability. I am driven by Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy that "the difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems".

What brought you to sustainability?

I volunteered for my apartment association and got involved in managing our energy, water and waste in a responsible manner. It was a challenging and gratifying experience to educate and mobilise the community, recruit volunteers and put in place a responsible waste management system, composting and  rain water harvesting.  

Around this time, Bangalore, as a city, was facing lot of challenges, and paying prices for its growth - waste was everywhere, water shortage was common and inequalities abounded.

My experience in creating a small but positive change in the apartment made me think of a career where I could do a bit more for such societal issues and where my profession uses my expertise and aligns with sustainability.

So I quit my corporate job and joined the science & technology NGO TIDE.  The NGO's vision "Towards a world where innovations positively and equitably impact all sections of the society and environment" resonates with my personal philosophy.

Which sustainable actions are you in charge of or have you implemented in your organisation?

I have conceptualized and implemented programs around various SDG goals and emission reduction impacts in India through the NGO I led.  These include

  1. an award winning program  on electricity conservation (selected as one of the best practice for sustainable lifestyle by Government of India's Think Tank, NITI Aayog [see page 57], and winner of Bengaluru Innovation award in 2018)
  2. a popular climate education program for school program called Model School
  3. a carbon credit project through improved cook stoves
  4. an integrated water management IWM with WASH focus at Tier 2 cities
  5. Green skilling & livelihoods for women and farmers (disposable areca plates, value added millets, etc)

You can read about some of the programs here.  My learning is to ensure that sustainability is holistic, involving local resources, participatory, and evidence based.

Which challenges did you meet and how did you overcome them?

When I was undertaking energy, water and waste management in my apartment, it was a challenge to get support or funds from the association. I was able to garner community support by explaining to them about the importance of responsible resource management. With their support, we were able to implement lot of things around water and waste with minimal investment and show impact (compliance, cost reduction, cleaner premise, an environmentally aware community).

Getting funds for innovative ideas was a challenge I faced in my NGO.  I then learnt how to pilot the ideas, demonstrate success and then secure funds. This was also a good way to ensure we were not wasting resources unnecessarily.  

Tracking and demonstrating impact is another challenge.  I learnt to develop indicators, both quantitative and qualitative, build them in the project management process and track them.

You are also a writer?

Indeed, I have written a book called 'A CAREER WITHOUT AN EXPIRY DATE: FINDING WORK, GROWTH AND FULFILMENT IN NGOs' .  I have signed a contract with a publishing agent and I am hoping to release the book soon in the Indian market.

I have also contributed to a chapter in a book on Behavioural Science for International Development, to be published by University of Pennsylvania.

What are you most proud of?

When we decided to move to Singapore, I put in place a leadership succession and transition plan for the NGO I was leading. I created a second line of leadership, worked with them on a 3 year strategic plan and reorganized the organization matrix. With these, we were able to attract good candidates for my position, and we chose one after a comprehensive selection process designed by me.

I am enormously proud that the organization is sustainable, and continues its good work on sustainability.

What would be your top 3 pieces of advice to the Matcha Initiative users?

I tell these to myself as much to others:

  1. You can make a difference
  2. Be aware of the fine line between NEED & WANT
  3. We owe it our children, their children and grandchildren to leave behind a world worthy of living.
In which field could you help The Matcha Initiative users as a buddy?
  • Best Practices sharing
  • Experience Sharing
  • Expertise Sharing
Please describe how you could help The Matcha Initiative users as a buddy?

I wish to help individuals, communities, institutions, and corporates to integrate sustainability into their lives and business. I am happy to get involved in:

  • Accelerating progress towards SDG goals
  • Integrating sustainability into businesses
  • Supporting communities / institutions in their sustainability journey
  • Training
  • Nurturing eco warriors, including courses
Sumathy's 3 main sustainability skills

Behaviour change & Community Mobilisation / ESG / Climate Action

Sumathy accepts to answer your questions.

If you need additional insights, you can send her a message.