Sanjiv Yajnik believes we’re living in exciting times. Disruptive, challenging and revolutionary – but exciting nonetheless and he is intently focused on elevating the innovation ecosystem in DFW to capitalize on the opportunities ahead. Yajnik is President of Capital One Financial Services. I was invited by Capital One to moderate a Dallas Startup Week panel featuring Yajnik, alongside Alyce Alston, CEO of the Dallas Entrepreneur Center, Johnathan Brownlee, CEO and President of Dallas Film Society and Executive Director of Dallas International Film Festival and Kim Noltemy, President and CEO of Dallas Symphony Orchestra. Yes, technology and the arts, sitting quite comfortably side-by-side.
As Yajnik sees it, for Dallas to be a destination for top talent it needs a thriving arts community. And the task of solving big problems? That requires a diverse ecosystem of people and businesses coming together to create positive change. And Yajnik lives this vision – he sits passionately at the intersection of all of these forces, aligning his “day job” at Capital One with his personal and community interests (he’s Chairman of the Dallas Symphony Board and Collin County Business Alliance Board, to name just two).
“I’ve seen the arts, especially music, inspire innovations in micro-financing, healthcare and mental health, allowing us to connect in a more human way.” – Sanjiv Yajnik
I sat down with Yajnik following Dallas Startup Week to further explore with him the importance of bringing the creative and business communities together and why being a good community partner is just good business strategy.
JKH: Why is investing in the community you operate in good for business?
Yajnik: Incredible talent wants to live in thriving communities that offer great jobs, schools, and an amazing quality of life with access to the arts, sports and entertainment. Businesses have a role to play in coming together to make the community an even more vibrant place to live, work and create. This has never been more important than when the war for talent has gone global. When companies do things for the community, employees feel a sense of pride and purpose. In turn, this attracts additional talent to work for your company. However, companies cannot attract this talent alone. This is a team sport, and when we have an ecosystem of corporations, startups and community partners working together, we all win.
JKH: What are the essential elements of a strong community partnership?
Yajnik: It’s a two-way street – vibrant businesses and vibrant communities go hand-in-hand. Real impact is created when successful businesses step up and get involved beyond financial contributions. They do this by partnering with nonprofits, educational institutions, government officials and other businesses to create meaningful relationships within the community. This fosters fundamental alignment and momentum to create lasting change.
JKH: What’s the impact within the company of being a good corporate citizen in the community?
Yajnik: Purpose is an aspirational reason for existing – something that inspires and provides a call to action for the organization, as well as delivers a benefit to society. Great talent today demands a company with purpose they believe in. Companies who define and embrace their purpose, and excel at helping their employees understand and participate in it, have a much higher chance of succeeding.
“…when we have an ecosystem of corporations, startups and community partners working together, we all win.” – Sanjiv Yajnik
JKH: Why are the arts and business natural ecosystem building partners?
Yajnik: Technology and the arts are synergistic to innovation. But over time, we have seen technology become abstracted away from us quite significantly. This will continue to open doors for creativity, which is inspired by the arts. It is creativity that will unlock the biggest value in business so that people with bold imaginations, ideas and intuition will succeed.
If you look at great leaders of the past, not only have the arts always been a source of inspiration, but they are also changing the way businesses operate and people live. In the broader community, I’ve seen the arts, especially music, inspire innovations in micro-financing, healthcare and mental health, allowing us to connect in a more human way.
JKH: In a rapidly changing world, why is it essential to bring all communities (arts, business, education etc.) to the table?
Yajnik: When you observe why certain regions have flourished, you’ll see an entire ecosystem of things happening simultaneously – great schooling, a thriving arts scene, successful businesses – and those are sustained. We all have a role to play in creating a vibrant community.
“It is creativity that will unlock the biggest value in business so that people with bold imaginations, ideas and intuition will succeed.” – Sanjiv Yajnik
In closing, I have the good fortune of collaborating and partnering with inclusive companies focused on building community for mutual success, including, for this post, Capital One. #CapitalOnePartner