Pure Altruism - Meera Singh

Raised in Sikkim amidst the Buddhist culture, Meera Singh is a humanitarian with strong beliefs and moral values. From winning a gold medal for securing the highest marks in the Northeast during her school days, to helming the development of the 6,000-crore company Gati from its nascent stage, Meera has a lengthy list of accomplishments. She has no interest in leading a lacklustre life. Her heart goes out to art, and charity through art. An absolute philanthropist, her initiative ‘Art with a Heart’ offers paintings at minimal prices, the proceedings of which go to beneficiaries including orphanages and other foundations that support children. During our chat, she points out the numerous boxes in her office, and says with a sense of contentment, “All these are filled with books, art materials, toys, and everything else that can be useful for children.”

An MBA graduate in marketing from Oberoi, she achieved significant success as the chief brand custodian of Gati, an express distribution, supply chain and logistics company in India. Her dynamic career has been balanced by her strong spirituality. A follower of Sadhguru and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, her innate compassion stems from their philosophical teachings. “Sadhguru is my guru and His Holiness the Dalai Lama is my spiritual father,” she states.

“Ever since my father passed away at the age of 49, the Dalai Lama has been personally mentoring my family, and my brother has joined him as a monk.” Meera has many inspiring stories about her work and spiritual journey. Here’s a taste of what we spoke about.

What are your approaches and challenges in your field of work?
When I first joined TCI (Transport Cooperation of India), I didn’t know anything about logistics. Over time, I realised that my field is creativity, brand building, and customer service, as these are what I was trained in. They didn’t even know what customer service was at the time. Transport was an unorganised sector, and we gave it the polish it needed. This was my very first approach, and following this, we started Gati 27 years ago. The most challenging part of my work was to make men accept women in this industry. The scene is so different today.

What are the advantages of conventional marketing over digital marketing? To what extent is digital taking over conventional marketing?
Each has its own place. You need a mix of the two for the best results. Although digital marketing is the way forward, it will never entirely take over the conventional means. For instance, print has its own way with people. They still want to hold, touch, feel and read it. Hence, one cannot fully replace the other.

What are the top three mistakes committed by organisations in brand marketing?
The first mistake is thinking that your brand doesn’t need marketing/branding, assuming that you’re big enough. This is the first step towards the death of your brand. Second is when you don’t live up to your promise. And the last is not getting your house in order or being organised.

Tell us about your ‘Art with a Heart’ initiative.
It just came from my heart. When I saw some very talented underprivileged children, some orphaned and others handicapped, I wanted to do something for them beyond providing for them from my own pocket. That’s how Art with a Heart came about, where the paintings are priced affordably and every dime from the sales goes to charity. We have launched a website for this initiative, artwithaheart.in, where people can buy paintings online and partake in charity.

What do you dislike about the art world?
The way some artists try to be cutthroat, like businessmen. This takes away the beauty of their inner selves that they produce in their art.

What art do you most identify with? And what’s your favourite artwork?
Impressionism. My favourite is the work of French master Vincent van Gogh.

What do you do in your spare time?
I reflect on my past, try to keep my mind blank by meditating, and play with my pets.

What are your hobbies?
Photography, art, and reading books.     – as told to Sumana