“Equal opportunity in the true sense is acknowledging every aspect of the society, including LGBT, the differently-abled, and other geographically diversified individuals, and offering them with the employment opportunity.” 

Kaustubh Sonalkar

Kaustubh Sonalkar is amongst the very few truly dedicated social reformers and out of box thinker. While achieving career heights up the corporate ladder, Kaustubh Sonalkar; President of HR Essar Group and CEO of Essar Foundation. Is living his life’s motto, ‘equal opportunity’ in most true sense of the word. As a out of box thinker, he has been helping people with striking work life balance. And understanding ways to live a far more accomplished and full filling life; amidst corporate work pressure and demanding city life like of Mumbai. His upcoming book on life lessons and experiences of his journey between street lights, flood lights and stage lights. Encompassing stories from cricket, Bollywood, music and even the streets is much awaited. The book will help people find road to success through learning lessons from; Kaustubh’s life as a struggler, cricketer, musician, philanthropist and a corporate leader.

A multifaceted personality, Kaustubh, besides being a champion of uniform laws at workplace. Is also an established leader known for his philanthropy and unique point of view. And has been robustly guiding the Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Focused on the four niche areas – Women Health & Livelihood; Helping Transgender Community; Sports; and Entertainment. In addition to the aforementioned, he has also been a cricketer and has played for the Ranji Cricket team;besides composing for a music album.

His passion has led to his becoming a key part of each campaign; he has initiated whereby he has been a guide. And also a leader catering to the practical needs of the employees. This unique devotion to his job and his concern for the entire workforce stems from a vision; that took shape from his experience of working in different geographies for many years in numerous sectors.

Women Health & Livelihood

One of his initiatives, viz., and menstrual hygiene focused on women’s health and livelihood has been immensely appreciated. His approach to their welfare resulted in inventiveness of an idea to manufacture sanitary pads; and sell them to the self-help groups in rural India. Needless to add, his action has enabled various women to be endowed with entrepreneurship, health and education.

Helping Transgender Community

Contributing to the LGBTQ community that has been ignored for decades in India. Kaustubh has acknowledged the key areas that are crucial for the community. From introducing a method to establish their identity by  getting Aadhar Card or PAN card. To helping them with accommodation to skilling them, and offering them with employment opportunity are the core areas. He has safeguarded many of their interests that were hitherto ignored.


The third area of focus for him is to uplift the areas in the rural belt. With the help of starting sport coaching schools in their locality, he has been hugely successful transforming the people. Who have not only given up some of the nefarious activities; they were involved in but have also diverted their energies to better use.


By ensuring that the technology we are surrounded with can surmount the problems in the lives of the differently abled. And enable them to enjoy watching mainstream cinema with subtitles/dubbed dialogues. He has given a fresh lease of life to many visually challenged; and hearing impaired and advanced the medium of cinema to a wider reach.


Living in the megacity of Mumbai – the city that never sleeps; it was an effort for him to differentiate between work and personal life. While many people struggle to strike a balance between the two; Kaustubh has been straddling the highs of the demanding corporate world. As well as following his heart by travelling and exploring the hobbies, with ease. His far and wide travels have been encapsulated in some published books; where he leads us into his aesthetic sensibilities and his unbridled passion for travel and music. Not one to delve deeply into work alone; he has been a friend philosopher and guide to his family as well.


In the book he has authored, Kaustubh shares with his readers his views on life and the experiences he had while trotting the world. His recent book is a collection of 60 stories, the blogs on his life experiences and his passion for sports and cinema.

“One may have not read the Ramayana but can seek vital lessons of life through sports and Indian cinema. While sports offer learning about leadership, the recent movies are realistic and relatable with the power to influence one more than ever.

As an author, I ensure every story of the book offers a takeaway and something for the readers to ponder on.” believes Kaustubh.


Carrying a 360 vision of the business and having worked in different sectors he has created an enviable background for himself that helps him play multiple roles – that of a Senior Partner/Executive Director at PwC and Senior VP & Head of HR at Essar Group with aplomb.

His earlier long stints with Airtel, Vodafone (Innovation & Marketing), in the UK and the United Nations (UN) stand testimony to his most impressive track record.

As a visionary who looks far ahead than his desired goals, he believes in extolling the efforts of his team that has played a crucial part in his success. Putting aside his own achievements, he has always been extremely approving and admiring of the people he has worked with, and believes that spurring the team’s actions is only fruited when one understands the strength of each member’s contribution and creates relevant roles for them.

As a knowledge leader, Kaustubh opines that one should adopt the role of supporting protagonist. “You cannot be a master of all. A team has to be complementing the leaders, and once the leader plays to their strengths, encourages them to do what they want to do, understands their issues, the team is motivated, which is also reflected at the office at Essar Foundation” avers Kaustubh.

From providing engineering solutions, telecom and retail to the infrastructure sector, Kaustubh brings to the table his rich experience in these varied industries.

In the scenario of the amplified role of technology over years, he considers technology to be a game-changer as an enabler to efficiently manage business with the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence), mobile learning and machine learning. At the same time, he is quick to add, “However, it cannot take over human interactions that tend to remain the core of the business.”


Kaustubh plans to grow personally and professionally, and wants to continue working to keep his legacy alive with all his initiatives supporting the society, and brainstorming ideas for efficient management and work culture, as well as, finding enough time to pen down more stories.

While the claim of many corporate houses to have a level playing field in their organisations seems merely an empty talk to ensure a positive image for themselves, there are a few truly dedicated and sincere out of box thinker like Kaustubh Sonalkar, President of HR Essar Group and CEO of Essar Foundation for whom, the term ‘equal opportunity’ is their life’s motto.

“One has to constantly work towards helping opportunities made available, accessible to contribute to society,” is what Kaustubh Sonalkar lives by.


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