Pete Punwani is all about impact. Throughout his more than four decade-long career as a management consulting practice leader for firms such as Infosys, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Computer Sciences Corp, and his personal venture ATOM, he provided project leadership to more than 40 clients—mostly Fortune 500 companies. He aided his clients in strategizing and implementing business transformation programs to improve their systems, processes, culture, and bottom lines.
For Pete, impact goes beyond bottom lines. In fact, interpersonal connections and mentorship have been central to his long career. “One of the most gratifying things about management consulting is being able to develop the next level of leadership,” Pete shares. “What I have always enjoyed is working with people and helping them reach their higher potential.” In addition, “the opportunity of working with a variety of client executives and their organizations in different environments and on their unique challenges” has greatly invigorated him. “I’ve met some very fine people, throughout my career, and had a chance to learn from the experiences. By the same token, I’ve had many talented partners at the consulting firms that I’ve worked with, and our teamwork made for great outcomes.”
Considering Pete’s passion for consulting, it comes as no surprise that, despite having joined Social Venture Partners merely nine months ago, in September 2017, he is already actively engaged at many levels—including participating in SVP’s Investment Team and Advisory Teams and co-leading SVP’s Real-Time Strategic Planning Impact Subteam. When asked about his deep dive into SVP, he says, “As a management consultant, you want to be immersed in what’s going on with a client as a way to really understand the business.…I want to try and be involved with SVP in as much as I can to be useful. Through this, I am learning a lot from the other Partners, who are all very helpful and knowledgeable.”
Pete emphasizes that the interaction with his fellow Partners is part of what he has enjoyed the most and that he joined SVP because “in the past 20 years, I have done almost no work in Cleveland so pretty much lost touch with the local community, and, certainly, I’ve never worked with nonprofits. To me the value I get from SVP is not only the ability to learn about nonprofits, but also to reconnect with the Cleveland scene.”
One of the things that attracted Pete specifically to co-leading the RTSP Impact Subteam was this desire to learn. “I’m new to nonprofits,” he says. “One way I thought I could learn a lot more was to dive into it, and, of the RTSP areas, I think ‘Impact’ is the one where SVP needs to continue to evolve. It’s a natural place to be—where we’re going to go, who we’re going to be.” The second reason he chose the Impact Team is the opportunity it is giving him to “work with other Partners, who have worked with nonprofits and have a variety of experience, and being able to share experiences and learn and grow together.”
Pete has really embraced the RTSP process. “I think RTSP is a great approach. A lot of the strategic planning in the past has been the long-term strategic plans. As many SVP Partners have said, that kind of planning sometimes ends up sitting on the shelf.” He goes on, “I see RTSP as a more practical approach, where you work on immediate things and get people excited about it and then look at the next level and evolve from there to achieving the longer-term goals.”
When discussing what “success” would look like in his work with SVP, Pete points to external and internal goals. He says SVP’s Investees’ success is his most important metric, but adds that there is also an internal goal for SVP on how we meet the aspirations of whatever Partners are looking to gain from the organization.
Describing his driving force in doing nonprofit work, Pete says “What motivates me to do good is having fallen many times, picked myself up, and learnt from the experiences. Applying these lessons from the ‘for-profit world’ to nonprofits is an exciting prospect. Combining this with the deep skills of other Partners in the nonprofit world can help business transformation and capacity building with our Investees.”
Pete believes that “we’re all connected” and “we all face challenges, but I think at the core of it is really a struggle within yourself. The struggle between the negativism—fear, greed, all of those kinds of emotions that sometimes overwhelm us—and being able to overcome them and replace them with love, compassion, courage, faith. When you’re able to do that, then all your problems fade away.”
Looking towards his future, Pete says, “I’m excited about the future, with its challenges and opportunities. Life has treated me very well all these years; every day has been a learning experience and a fun experience, and I look forward to the continuing journey.”