An Interview with Vatsala Joseph – 10 Year Work Anniversary

Vatsala Joseph,  CFO at Shakti Sustainable Energy Foundation,  specialises in financial planning and management, compliance, taxation, monitoring and audits, donor financial contract management, and grant and contract management. Vatsala wears many hats at Shakti. She stepped in as interim CEO during a critical time for Shakti to iron out the process of leadership transition for the organisation. She is also the most creative number caller for Tambola games during office get togethers!

When did you join Shakti? What has your role been like? 

I joined Shakti in July 2012 when Shakti had just received its Prior FC permission. This was an important milestone for Shakti as a regranting organisation because it meant that robust processes and accountability had to be adopted.  Until re-granting was possible, Shakti collaborated on 550+ projects and assignments to inculcate the climate narrative in India. We did this working alongside the momentum generated by policies at the national and state level.

Looking back, what big goals has Shakti achieved from when you started till now? 

Shakti proved to be a pioneer in working with the clean energy ecosystem to build up the capacity of civil society institutions. We proactively incubated leading think tanks of today and strengthened strategic alliances with stakeholders across government, civil society, think tanks and research organisations.

You have been a critical part of the foundation of Shakti and an important building block in its subsequent growth. Please share with us your key contributions to the growth of the organisation. 

We underwent a huge strategic refresh exercise over the last two years and established robust processes to redesign the working model for the new course ahead.  With the help of our grantee partners, we took several steps for the capacity building of our operations team. As a Section 8 Company, compliance under various laws and statutes is critical, and accordingly, we developed a compliance register that has become a guide for other institutions.

What has kept you working at Shakti all these years?

I have spent my entire career working in civil society organisations, and this has been my third 10-year stint in an organisation. I came in at a critical juncture and I wished to see Shakti through a successful run. Most of our grants received repeat funding. A greater part of the funds received went to support projects implemented by others, and this is essentially the ethos of collaboration with civil society organisations.

Where do you see Shakti in the next five years?  

Shakti is poised to be the building block that will bring together multiple actors working towards tackling climate change and accelerating transition towards clean energy. We will be taking the important mandate of climate action  to Indian philanthropists so that civil society organisations can contribute more significantly  to meet the ambitious climate targets set by India.