How Ola is developing an entrepreneurial mindset among its employees

A culture of innovation and collaboration can be built in a fun way.

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Nurturing talent and innovation is what every company desires to do. It is a goal that all organisations try to work towards. Ola, the ride hailing giant, has been driving forth passion among its employees to build an entrepreneurial mindset and collaborate to innovate new products with its unique initiative, Ola Product Day.

This initiative by Ola was designed to encourage seamless idea sharing across the floor and provide employees with a platform to bring interesting projects to life. Conducted over the last few years, initiatives including Ola Product Day and Ola Hack Day have played a pivotal role in encouraging young talent to develop a technology-led problem-solving approach.

Srinivas Chunduru, group CHRO, and CEO, Ola Skilling, says, “While on the journey to build mobility for billions, we have concentrated our efforts to build innovative and disruptive solutions by leveraging the best of technology. This has seen us invest in developing capabilities, building expertise and growing our team to 7000 employees globally.”

Conducted once every two months, the Ola Product Day offers great opportunities for networking as well. The event is geared towards supporting employees to give shape to their ideas and grow them into viable new products.

The second edition of Ola Product Day saw teams across the floor deliberate on current trends and key areas of focus within the technology as well as mobility ecosystems. This edition of Product Day coincided with ‘Engineers Day’ held on the 15 September, and had the best minds from the technology and engineering spaces participate and collaborate to solve real business problems.

Srinivas Chunduru

“Ola Product Day is one of the many platforms, where employees can showcase lateral thinking, cognitive abilities, and brainstorm with people across the board to come up with futuristic ideas. Some of the most interesting business ideas at Ola are a result of fresh thinking that our employees bring to the table” 

To make the day more fun and to test the participants’ skills as engineers, the organisers designed a fun chain-reaction game. The game was followed by an inspiring talk by Inder Singh, Head of Tech and Product, Smart Mobility, Ola. The top performers were recognised with soft toys of animals that signify the attribute of the awards.

What made this edition of Ola Product Day different from the previous ones was a unique initiative called ‘Pitch-a-thon’. In this event, over twenty five teams presented their business ideas, which were in line with Ola’s current and future business priorities. “It was held in an interesting and engaging format. We saw enthusiastic participation from various business verticals that came together to brainstorm and share their ideas for improving customer experience and creating new products”, says Chunduru.

The ideas pitched by the teams were presented to an expert panel, which included representatives from the leadership team. They further engaged with the participants to judge the viability and execution of the ideas.

The winners get to work actively with the company on the execution of their ideas. Ola helps to bring their ideas to life by providing them support in the form of in-house resources. Athira Warrier, head of allocation product and a winning team member of Ola Hack Day, says, “It was a great environment to collaborate. Working with cross-functional teams helped us understand each other’s point of view and challenges. Our idea is already in the production stage and we are looking forward to it going live on the Ola app in the coming months.”

Speaking on this Chunduru says, “We believe great ideas can come from anywhere. People at Ola are encouraged to think outside the box and come up with solutions that are unique, and also possess the potential to spur innovation. Ola Product Day is one of the many platforms, where employees can showcase lateral thinking, cognitive abilities, and brainstorm with people across the board to come up with futuristic ideas. Some of the most interesting business ideas at Ola are a result of fresh thinking that our employees bring to the table. We encourage them to think big, be agile and take risks.

Ola has been successfully driving innovation and engagement at the workplace by organising events like the Ola Product Day. In a LinkedIn video uploaded by the Company, employees can be seen having a good time while brainstorming and playing a chain-reaction game. Such events are an example of how big companies can drive a culture of innovation and agility and increase collaboration among different verticals, while having fun at the same time.

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