Michael Delfs

Karen Woodin Rodriguez
Columbia University in the City of New York
B.A. in Political Science
Mahindra Global Recruit 2011

Sector/Company: Group Strategy Office—Corporate Brand Council

Years at Mahindra: 2 years

Career Goals:

Add tangible value to others while honing my craft


Cross-fit, reading non-fiction, travel & theatre


What were you doing before you joined Mahindra?

While pursuing my B.A. in Political Science at Columbia University, I was helping students become global citizens by leading Model United Nations conferences. Specifically, I served as the Secretary-General of the world’s largest middle school MUN Conference held at UN Headquarters in New York, as well as the Secretary-General for Columbia’s collegiate conference.  In parallel, I was gaining work experience across different countries and sectors so that I could make the most informed career decision after graduation: from promoting human rights in the Americas through a think-tank based out of the Empire State Building, to developing innovative social enterprise models in Guatemala, Ecuador and Singapore, to conducting policy research in Kenya for the development of effective community libraries, I was trying to learn as much as I could, and make the most of my undergraduate education.

Why did you decide to join Mahindra?

After graduation, I knew that I wanted three things: international work experience, business experience and, honestly, an adventure—Mahindra proved to offer all three of these. To be able to participate in a growth story that will define global business and politics during our lifetimes, to do so by joining of one of India’s fastest-growing industrial houses, and to be able to immerse myself in a culture that has captivated the world’s imagination seemed like an opportunity I simply could not pass up. (Here’s a postI wrote on why I decided to work in Asia).

What are you doing now?

As part of the Group Strategy Office, I work on strategic brand-building initiatives so that the Mahindra Group can reach its aspiration of becoming one of the world’s 50 most admired brands. My main project is Spark the Rise, a platform to propel innovation, entrepreneurship and positive change in India. Over the past two years, we have given out nearly USD 1 million to 100 entrepreneurs and innovators solving India’s most pressing problems: from a courier company in Mumbai that employs low-income deaf adults to an energy company that crushes pine needles to generate electricity that powers villages in Uttarakhand. My main responsibly consists of building strategic partnerships for the platform, including funding partners (VCs, angel investors, development agencies), knowledge partners, incubation partners, and media partners.

How do you find Mahindra as an employer?

As a Global Recruit, the company takes great care of us and ensures that we feel welcome and settled in this new living and work environment. If you are willing to take the initiative to explore and follow through, Mahindra will provide you with unparalleled opportunities to learn and grow as a young professional.


What has been your best India experience?

Traveling to Hrishikesh: overnight sleeper bus from Delhi (an experience in itself), rafting in the Ganges, bungee jumping, sleeping in a tent over a bed of sand right by the river—it was priceless. A close second is staying at a desert camp in Jaisalmer and camel riding at midnight, after an exquisite day exploring Udaipur and eating deliciousRajasthani food (dumaloo was my favorite).

What were your favorite projects during your time at M&M?

My favorite project is Spark the Rise (described above) because it allows me to combine my interest in social entrepreneurship and innovation with the resources and prowess of Mahindra. I also love the fact that it’s an entrepreneurial pursuit within the company (an initiative like this had never been done before by Mahindra, or by any Indian corporate for that matter), which means that I am able to play a key strategic role in shaping the direction of the platform.

Outside of the office, what are your favorite activities in Mumbai?

I love exploring different restaurants in Bandra; my favorite dessert place is Suzette, a small French restaurant, which serves delicious Nutella crepes with strawberries and bananas. I also love going to house parties with friends. Other than this, I’ve enjoyed taking theatre workshops, learning Jazz and Hindi, and teaching Model UN to students and faculty advisors.