Abheek Singhi – Senior Partner & Managing Director Asia-Pacific Leader, Consumer and Retail Practice The Boston Consulting Group
Abheek Singhi leads Boston Consulting Group’s Consumer and Retail practice in Asia-Pacific and member of the Global Practice Leadership Team. He has also been nominated as a BCG Fellow in 2016. Abheek has more than 20 years of experience with clients across the globe Abheek has partnered closely with clients across various sectors in delivering transformative impact – both with large corporations as well as mid-sized organizations. He has deep experience in strategy development and execution. In recent years, he has worked closely with organizations to deploy the impact of digital technologies for their business. Abheek has been a member of the National FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) Committee and the National Retail Committee of the Confederation of Indian Industry in the past. In that role, he has worked to monitor the industry trends and shape industry-wide responses. Abheek is a coauthor of the bestselling BCG book The $10 Trillion Prize (published by Harvard Business Review Press). He has also written several seminal reports on the Indian consumer and retail sectors, and he is a frequent contributor to national and international publications and is a speaker at leading business conferences and seminars. He has contributed to and quoted in leading publications such as the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, The Economist, Economic Times, Mint, Times of India, Hindustan Times. He is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Building Scalable Vocational Homes for Homeless Kids
Abheek’s project aims to address two specific requirements – provide a safe environment for homeless orphans / runaway kids and equip them with vocational skills that will enable them to earn a livelihood when they leave the home. Abheek is working with a Jaipur based NGO, i-India, which runs some conventional child shelters. So far the pilot has been working in one ‘home’ near Jaipur city. The intention is to create employment opportunities in the area of handicrafts and basic computer literacy. The scalability on the handicrafts side seems to be high and the NGO is planning to open a retail counter where the handicrafts could be sold to tourists. The BPO services model needs to be revisited. Abheek is thinking about adding retail operations training or basic handyman skills to the program.
Aditya Vikram R Somani – Chairman, Everest Tech.
Aditya Vikram Somani is an entrepreneur and over the last 25 years he has successfully built various companies. He has recently founded Everest Tech, an investment fund to scale-up mid-sized industrial and manufacturing companies. Prior to this, as Promoter and Executive Chairman of Everest Industries Ltd (a publicly listed construction material and pre engineered buildings company) 2005-2019 the company became India’s fastest growing building products company. From a single product roofing company with revenues of Rs200crores in 2005 Everest grew to become a multi product building solutions provider with revenues of Rs1400crores and a high market capitalisation of 4x under his stewardship. As Co-Founder of CompareIndia.com 2000-2006 he created India’s first comparison portal for appliances, electronics and automotives, and sold it to CNBC Web18. He has had business interests in real estate, distribution, travel and textiles and is an independent Board member and advisor in various organizations. He is an MBA from University of Pittsburgh 1997, a post-graduate diploma holder in business management from SPJain Institute and a Masters of Commerce from University of Bombay’s Sydenham College 1996. He is fascinated by various programs on Lean Manufacturing, Fast Construction and Singularity University, concepts that he has attempted to distill in his organisations. AV is deeply involved in several social causes close to his heart. Currently, in education (Vice President of Mahesh Shikshan Sansthan Jodhpur and Member of the Global Advisory Board of the Chancellor of University of Pittsburgh), philanthropy (Director at Centre for Advancement of Philanthropy India), culture (Founder of Inner Courtyard Mumbai), urban conservation (at Asiatic Society, as part of the committee at Rotary Club of Bombay) and skill building (Everest Foundation). In the past, with organisations in public governance and health. AV is a member of YPO Bombay, Rotary Club of Bombay and a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Doing Good!
Aditya intends to create a model for companies in India to undertake Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) by selecting areas of developments under which the company’s skill sets and resources can directly benefit the community. CSR will be built around creating a volunteer system to initiate Individual Social Responsibility by every employee of the company, supported by the organization. As a pilot project, Aditya initiated this process at Everest Industries Ltd. It has been made mandatory for every employee to contribute one hour per quarter for a social cause and it has taken off well within the company.
Ajeet Bajaj – Managing Director, Snow Leopard Adventures
Ajeet is an adventurer and explorer, is the first Indian to have completed the much-acclaimed Polar Trilogy comprising skiing to the North Pole, to the South Pole and across the Greenland Icecap. He has also successfully climbed 6 of the 7 summits (the highest mountain in each continent) including Mt. Everest. He summitted Mount Everest in 2018 with his daughter Deeya, making them the first Indian father-daughter team to do so. With over 25 years of experience in adventure sports, Ajeet was conferred the Padma Shri by the President of India in 2012 for his achievements in adventure sports. Ajeet is considered a pioneer of river rafting, kayaking and sea kayaking in India. Born on September 19, 1965, Ajeet Bajaj was educated at The Lawrence School, Sanawar and St. Stephen’s college, Delhi. He has won a bronze medal in the national games for kayaking and one silver and two bronze medals in international rafting competitions in Switzerland and Siberia, Russia. He captained the international team for world white water rafting championships in Turkey in 1994. He is a qualified climbing instructor from the French National School of Alpinism and Skiing and is a PADI certified advance open water scuba diver. As a civilian, he has served as expedition leader and chief instructor for several river running courses and expeditions for the Indian Armed Forces. Many of these expeditions were on uncharted rivers in the Himalayas. Ajeet has played an important role in the development of adventure tourism in India and served two terms as President, Adventure Tour Operators Association of India. He chaired the Ministry of Tourism committee for national policy on camping and policy on caravan tourism. He is a member of the National Tourism Advisory Council and was Chairman, Sub-Committee on Adventure, Sustainable, Wildlife and Rural Tourism for the 11th Plan (Ministry of Tourism). He received the ‘Hall of Fame’ award from the Adventure Tour Operators Association of India in 2010. Ajeet Bajaj is an Honorary Director, Himalayan Environmental Trust and a Fellow, Royal Geographical Society. He served on the advisory board for the Adventure Travel Trade Association world summit in Mexico in 2011 and is a member of the Training and Education Workgroup of Global Sustainable Tourism Council, a United Nations World Tourism Organisation. Ajeet Bajaj is the Managing Director of Snow Leopard Adventures Pvt. Ltd., a National Tourism Award winning adventure tour Company. While running a highly successful adventure tour company, Ajeet endeavours to fulfil his responsibility to society. Towards this effect, he initiated in 1995, the Ganga First Aid Centre near Rishikesh to provide basic health care to the villagers. He is also actively supporting Divya Prem Sewa Mission, a Haridwar-based NGO, which provides free education and housing to over 250 underprivileged children. In August 2011 under the guidance of Ajeet, a special wing for girls was set up at this home. He is a Fellow of the 4 Sight Class of Ananta Aspen’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Planet Harmony
The aim of Ajeet’s project is to integrate students from politically disturbed areas of India into the mainstream and to help them to be ambassadors of harmony and development. The credo of Planet Harmony is ‘From Conflict to Harmony’. It brings J&K, North-East and Jharkhand students and teachers to Delhi were they are hosted by ‘buddies’. Later all participants are taken for a week to a Snow Leopard Adventures Camp and take part in a programme which is similar to the programmes run by the Aspen Global Leadership School. The facilitators aim to create a space where the participants feel safe about sharing their thoughts. Adventure activities and games help the participants bond with each other, overcome their fears and reinforces the need for trust and communication. Planet Harmony has a post-programme ‘project’ component and a follow-up component. It has plans to give visiting participants an education grant once they start their project. Planet Harmony saw its first batch coming together for a two-week programme in 2014.
Amit K Sinha – Partner Bain & Company
Amit Sinha is a partner based in Bain & Company’s New Delhi office. He leads the firm’s Advanced Manufacturing & Services practice in India, as well as the Utilities & Renewables sector in Asia-Pacific. He is also an active member of Bain’s global Energy & Natural Resources, Performance Improvement, Supply Chain Management, Mergers & Acquisitions and Technology practices. Amit has more than 15 years of management consulting experience advising private, public and MNC firms as well as the government of India. His expertise spans a range of industries, including IT services, private equity and consumer products, with a deep focus in the energy and power and airlines sectors. He specializes in growth strategy, performance improvement and turnarounds, market entry and full potential, strategy implementation, commercial due diligence and organization. Amit has also written several articles in national print media on mining, power sector reforms and IT, and has been extensively quoted in prominent media outlets. He is a member of CII’s national committee on the power sector and was selected for Aspen’s India Leadership Fellow program in 2012. Amit started his career at Bain’s Boston office in 2002. He moved to India in 2006 to help start Bain’s India office as the first official employee. Prior to joining Bain, Amit worked at iGATE Patni, where he supported implementation of financial software for clients in Singapore and the United States. He started his career with Tata Motors in Jamshedpur as a gradate engineer trainee in 1994. Amit holds a dual MBA from the Wharton School (finance and strategy), where he was named a Palmer Scholar and received the Siebel Scholarship. He also holds a B.Engg. in electrical and electronics engineering from the Birla Institute of Technology, India. He is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Social Enterprise Growth Trust
Social Enterprise Growth Trust (SEGT) plans to make social enterprises more sustainable so that they have a lasting impact on their stakeholders. Amit chose to take on this project as he felt that many NGOs failed to grow beyond a critical mass and were unable to create the impact they wanted to have. SEGT will support social enterprises to help achieve national/regional scale or reach, leveraging in-kind business expertise. It intends to seek funds from corporates and deploy them as growth capital in select social enterprises. Furthermore SEGT is supposed to become an innovative role model for how corporates can support the social sector. The training content includes the topics strategy and creating a dashboard. Another module on accounting and legal partnering with other firms will be added. This content is intended to be used to train various CEO/ senior executives from NGOs.
Aradhana Khaitan Mahna – Co-Founder & Managing Director Manya Education Pvt. Ltd.
Co-Founder and Managing Director, of Manya Education Private Limited, which is the largest partner of The Princeton Review (TPR) globally. The organisation focuses on foreign university admissions and guides students through the entire journey starting from short-listing of schools, test preparation (SAT, GMAT, GRE, ACT, AP, IELTS, etc), developing a competitive application strategy, interview prep and visa services. Through a network of close to 50 centers spanning the country and online, Manya partners with several leading education companies such as the Cambridge Education to help bring the best to Indian students. She is also a Co-Founder and Partner of Trivium Education – a platform which offers services in assessment development, e-tutoring, online grading & content support to education companies globally. Furthermore, she serves on the board of RAL, which is an FMCG, Solar & Consumer Appliances distribution companies. Aradhana holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She is also a member of the Delhi chapters of Entrepreneur Organisation (EO) and Young Presidents Organisation (YPO). Aradhana is married to Gokul, who also is an entrepreneur and has 2 boys, 7 and 13 who study at The Shri Ram School, New Delhi. A spiritual seeker and a nature lover, her goal is to make our planet better!
Leadership project/venture: Make ILI self-sufficient and sustainable
Aradhana’s project is to raise a grant for ILI to ensure that it is self-sufficient and sustainable in its current form. Her experience of the Aspen Fellowship program has been a very enriching and inspiring one. She believes that investing in leadership development to make a significant impact on society is a powerful concept to transform the world in which we live slowly and steadily. Aradhana is certain that if she can carry this forward, not only will it enrich several lives directly, but also indirectly. So far a corporate film on the Aspen Fellowship and ILI has been completed as well as a presentation to be shared as an introduction to the concept.
Arunabha Ghosh – CEO Council On Energy, Environment And Water (CEEW)
DR Arunabha Ghosh is a public policy professional, adviser, author, columnist, and institution builder. As the founder-CEO of the Council on Energy, Environment and Water, since 2010, he has led CEEW to the top ranks as one of South Asia’s leading policy research institution (five years in a row); and among the world’s 20 best climate think-tanks in 2016. He has been actively involved in the design of the International Solar Alliance since inception. He conceptualised and is founding board member of the Clean Energy Access Network (CLEAN). With experience in 43 countries, he previously worked at Princeton, Oxford, UNDP (New York), and WTO (Geneva). In 2018, the UN Secretary-General nominated him to the UN’s Committee for Development Policy. In 2018, the Government of India also appointed him as a member of the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region. He is the co-author/editor of four books: The Palgrave Handbook of the International Political Economy of Energy (2016); Energizing India: Towards a Resilient and Equitable Energy System (SAGE, 2016); Human Development and Global Institutions (Routledge, 2016); and Climate Change: A Risk Assessment (FCO, 2015). Arunabha’s essay “Rethink India’s energy strategy” in Nature was selected as one of 2015’s ten most influential essays. Arunabha advises governments, industry, civil society and international organisations around the world. This has included India’s Prime Minister’s Office, several ministries and state governments. He was invited by France, as a Personnalité d’Avenir, to advise on the COP21 climate negotiations; and also advised extensively on HFC negotiations. He serves on the Executive Committee of the India-U.S. PACEsetter Fund. He is a member of Track II dialogues with ten countries/regions; and formulated the Maharashtra-Guangdong Partnership on Sustainability. His monthly column in the Business Standard, Inflexion Points, is widely read. He hosted a documentary on water in Africa, and featured in a National Geographic documentary on energy. He is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, was a member of WEF’s Global Future Council on Energy (2016-18), and an Asia Society Asia 21 Young Leader.He is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network. He holds a D.Phil. from Oxford and topped Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi.
Leadership project/venture: Promoting Off-grid Energy Markets
Arunabha’s initiative is to build a countrywide network for firms operating in the decentralised clean energy (DCE) and energy access domain. This is supposed to reduce operational costs and financial risks and, thereby, stimulate the market and sustainable business models for off-grid renewable energy. CLEAN (Clean Energy Access Network) would deliver operational services to DCE entrepreneurs at lower costs. Arunabha secured a grant from USAID to undertake the analytical work to design the network. After consultations with more than 100 firms across the country, the business plan for CLEAN was finalised in August 2013. The initiative has been incorporated as one of the activities under a new India-US programme called “PEACE: Program for Energy Access and Clean Energy”. Arunabha convened ten non-profit institutions like CEEW, Ashden India Collective, Indian Renewable Energy Federation, Khemka Foundation, Selco Foundation, Shakti Foundation, TERI, The Climate Group, UN Foundation, and WWF-India. These institutions signed an Alliance Charter as partners for the initiative. Several donors have signed an MOU amongst themselves to support the project up to $2.4 million. CLEAN was launched in July 2014.
Arvind Malhan, Partner New Silk Route Advisors (NSR)
Arvind Malhan is a Partner at New Silk Route, a private equity investing firm which has invested over $1 billion across 17 companies in India and South Asia. Prior to joining New Silk Route, Arvind worked at Private Capital Asia, the Asian principal investing arm of JPMorgan, where he was part of the founding team, and TVG Capital, where he started and was responsible for the India office. Prior to moving to India, Arvind worked at New Enterprise Associates (NEA) in the US, where he focused on technology venture capital investing. Arvind began his career at McKinsey and Company and has also worked at Morgan Stanley Venture Partners, both in New York. Arvind received a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with Tau Beta Pi, Sigma Xi and Eta Kappa Nu academic honours, and holds an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Arvind is a member of YPO (Young Presidents’ Organisation), and a Trustee of the One Billion Literates Foundation, which has adopted government run schools, and provides free English and Computing skills to 4,000 children per year in Bangalore. He is a Fellow of Class 4 of the Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: One Billion Literates Foundation (OBLF)
One Billion Literates Foundation (OBLF) aims at imparting English language literacy to underprivileged children enrolled in local language government run schools in Bangalore. OBLF currently teaches English through volunteer rural women and reaches 700 kids who are offered the program free of charge. OBLF’s approach is efficient and highly cost effective, as it currently costs Rs 3,000/child/year to deliver its intervention. The measures OBLF has implemented include an own syllabus designed for a fun way of learning. Furthermore a baseline assessment method which gauges the child’s level of English knowledge irrespective of age, thus ensuring that each kid gets a sound foundation by learning at her/his own pace and no child is left behind. OBLF has also begun to implement education apps on tablets and bring computer skills into the classroom. Additionally they are providing weekly in-house training for village coordinators.
Charu Sinha (IPS) – Inspector General, Central Reserve Police Force, Srinagar sector
Charu is currently posted as Inspector General, Central Reserve Police Force, heading Srinagar sector. Previously she was the Inspector General of Central Reserve Police Force, heading
Jammu and Bihar sectors . She is the first woman Inspector General of Police of CRPF to take on the role of commanding sectors for Anti-terrorist and Anti-Naxalite Operations in Srinagar, Jammu and Bihar sectors. Prior to going to CRPF on deputation, she handled different positions in Telangana and the erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh.
She was earlier posted as IG Training, Telangana State, where she trained 12,000 constables across 28 police training academies. Before that she served as Director, Anti-Corruption Bureau, Telangana, handling the drive against corruption. Prior to that she was the IGP CID, for the state of Telangana wherein she was handling all kinds of crimes and before that she was Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission, wherein she handled recruitment of Government employees across all government departments. She had also been posted as DIG Anantapur range, consisting of Anantapur, Chittoor and Thirupati districts in Andhra Pradesh, handling extremely violent faction feuds, communalism and various issues in the region. An IPS officer of the 1996 batch, Charu served as Asst Supt of police in Pulivendula, Cuddapah district, handling faction feuds, then as Asst Supt of police Eluru, West Godavari district, handling various kinds of crimes, then as OSD (Officer on special duty) in charge of anti-extremist operations in Medak district where she handled the issue of extremism and rehabilitation of surrendered cadres. She was posted as Commandant 1st Battalion Hyderabad and after that as Supt of Police Prakasam district where she worked with chenchu tribals in educating them about the ills of supporting extremists, bringing tribal, social and economic issues into focus and showing them alternatives in life. She was also posted as Supt of Police, Intelligence Security Wing, and then as Supt of Police Nizamabad district. After that she went to the United Nations Mission in Kosovo in Europe, on deputation, for peacekeeping, in an area torn by conflict between Albanian Muslims and Christian Serbs, wherein she was handling the watch unit on Ramush Haradinaj, PM of Kosovo, who was being tried for war crimes. Subsequently on return, she was posted as Supt of Police Chittoor wherein, apart from law and order and crimes, she worked for restoration of property rights of HIV affected women and children, thrown out of their homes. On being posted to Mehbubnagar as Supt of Police, she worked with the chenchu tribals and the fishermen on the river belt. Her community policing initiatives ensured that all the members of the extremist dalams surrendered with their weapons and extremism was rooted out of the district after 2 decades. When she was posted as Joint Director Anti Corruption Bureau her focus shifted to the fight against corruption. Thereafter she went as SP East Godavari to conduct the 2009 general elections, and then was posted as Deputy Director Andhra Pradesh Police Academy, where she trained over 1500 Sub Inspectors. She graduated in English Literature, History and Political Science from St. Francis College for Women in Hyderabad and did her post graduation in Political Science from Hyderabad Central University. Both her younger sisters are Spiritual Consultants and Charu believes that a spiritual foundation makes relationships and life beautiful. She is a Fellow of the 4Sight Class of Ananta Aspen’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Life Skills Module
Life Skills Module was envisaged with the purpose of reaching out to different sections of society and helping them heal their lives and live a wholesome and happy life. It intends to do so by giving them tools they can use every day to handle their relationships and life at every stage. This methodology had been in existence in USA and Europe for the last 50 years and was brought to India 4 years back. Two Workshops were hosted in India in 2013 and 2014 and saw more than 400 participants from different countries. This enabled a large number of people from India to get trained as facilitators. Regular workshops are being conducted for individuals who are ready to introspect and begin a journey within, by cutting ties with everything that limits and binds us and does not allow us to be who we truly are. This is a long term project and the final goal is to introduce it as a part of the school curriculum, in HIV affected people homes, in the community of sex workers, alcohol and drug de-addiction homes, orphanages, old age homes and blind schools.
Chhavi Rajawat – Sarpanch, Soda Village-Rajasthan
Chhavi Rajawat is the Sarpanch/elected head of the Village Council of Soda located in the District of Tonk, Rajasthan, India. She was first elected Sarpanch in February 2010 and re-elected for a second term in February of 2015 courtesy the demand of the village residents. Sarpanch Rajawat’s aim is to make Soda a model village by pursuing a holistic, sustainable, gender-balanced development that can be replicated in other villages. Rural India is the beating heart of the world’s largest democracy, but its people are cut off from India’s development in many ways. India’s biggest challenge is to bridge the growing rural urban divide. To accomplish her goals to bridge that divide Chhavi is actively seeking support in the form of expertise as well as funds / adoption of projects from the government as well as non-government sectors including corporations, NGOs and individuals. Sarpanch Rajawat has been fighting many adversities along the way. Corruption, violence, individual ignorance, negligence, and political and bureaucratic apathy – all of which stand in the way of changing rural India. During her first term, Sarpanch Rajawat was successful in bringing transparency into the council office, water to a drought hit region, constructing many roads to connect village Soda with the main roads and other villages, opening a bank, bringing in electricity and introducing a waste management project among many other accomplishments. Sarpanch Rajawat’s focus during her second term is on improving the quality of education (both at primary school level as well as in high school where students are only taught Hindi Literature, Sanskrit Literature and Geography); introducing vocational training to help provide alternate sources of income and, improve agricultural practices. Sarpanch Rajawat is an alumna of Rishi Valley and Mayo College Girls’ School. She graduated from Lady Shri Ram College, New Delhi and followed it up with a degree in business management in marketing from Pune. She worked in the corporate sector from 2003 to 2009, during which she undertook myriad roles in media, hospitality, and the telecom industry. Sarpanch Rajawat has received many awards, including the Young Indian Leader Award by CNN/IBN in 2010 and was announced as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012 for her work in her village Soda. She was also honored by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu – Hon’ble Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Urban Development, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation – with Assocham Ladies League’s Grassroots Women of the Decade Achievers Award; Bharat Ratna Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Shakti National Award; All India Woman Achiever’s Award in 2014; India TV Yuva Award in 2013, and honoured by Former President Shri APJ Abdul Kalam. She is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Improve agricultural practices and provide market access to help farmers obtain better prices The Tonk district of Rajasthan suffers from scarce rainfall, and the village Soda experiences acute water shortages with its groundwater declared unsafe even for agriculture. Chhavi’s project therefore seeks to address the most critical need for the village sustainable economy: its agriculture and the ancillary resources needed to make it viable. Chhavi seeks to implement the opposite of the Green Revolution in her village: promote native plants that are adapted to the local conditions and require little water and minimal fertilizer. She hopes to promote indigenous knowledge systems among the educated youth of the village, and enlist them in being vested in the future of the village and reverse urban migration. She has been able to receive the support of Aries Agro Limited. Thus far a farmers club has been created to provide the farmers a platform to raise their issues and concerns and provide them the required solutions. A shelter for stray cows has been inaugurated to educate farmers on how to make botanical pesticide and bio fertilizer to reduce their dependency on harmful chemicals. A team of youth is being educated to create awareness amongst the villagers. Chhavi is also working towards creating a direct market for the farmers to receive fairer prices and be freed from the clutches of manipulative middlemen.
Harshad Lahoti – Harshad Lahoti – Founder & CEO, ah! Ventures
Currently at the helm of three companies in the Financial Services & Consultancy space, creating and growing businesses is not new for Harshad. He made his beginnings as a Management Executive with Larsen & Toubro, where he was assessed to be a high level performer and selected for their esteemed Management Leadership Program. His passion for finance, however, called him to move on to creating his own investment advisory and wealth management company Intercontinental Investments (2005). Further, with his interest in investment banking and desire to help early-stage ventures, Harshad founded ah! Ventures (2009), Excelman Ventures (2012), STARup Summit (2016) and SMARTup Conclave (2017). In the past 15 years, Harshad has grown his ventures into reputed, self-sufficient businesses that fuel their own growth. While his investment banking knowledge gives him an edge in evaluating businesses and investment opportunities, it is his extensive experience in creating super specialised, highly motivated teams and lean, optimised workflows and processes that Harshad is known best for. Harshad is known to be an astute problem solver and brilliant negotiator with the ability to think on his feet, while being meticulous and detailed in everything he undertakes. Among other things, he brings to the table the ability to create and build brands and bring about winning partnerships capable of handling whatever curveball the market throws at them. Harshad has invested in over 50+ early-stage ventures till date and is a regular speaker at many entrepreneurship events in India & abroad. Besides his interest in finance & investments, Harshad is also deeply involved as a director with the Ajit Lahoti Charitable Foundation, one of Pune’s leading charitable institutions helping Chronic Renal Failure patients minimize their hardships by better kidney disease management. Harshad travels extensively, loves yoga, poker & salsa dancing and lives in Mumbai & Pune.He is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship, a unique values-based leadership program designed to help leaders move from ‘success to significance’; and is also a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: ah! Impact – invest for good
As a part of his ILI Fellowship Project Harshad worked on conceptualizing, developing and setting up ah! Impact, ah! Ventures’ Impact Investment Network. The ah! Impact Network would serve as a forum for identifying and addressing the systemic barriers that hinder impact investment’s efficiency and effectiveness. Impact Investments are investments made into companies and organizations with the intention to generate measurable social and/or environmental impact alongside a financial return. The alfa and beta launches of ah! Impact have gathered considerable momentum. ah! Impact has already helped raise funding for a Mumbai based charities crowd funding platform, Ketto (www.ketto.org). As on date, ah! Impact has partnered with Rianta Capital Zurich for impact deal sourcing and is an active contributor to its Artha Venture Challenge, a social impact start-up competition. More information can be found on: www.ahimpact.org.
Rahul Mirchandani – Chairman and Managing Director – Aries Agro Limited Founder – Commonwealth Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs
Dr Rahul Mirchandani is the Chairman and Managing Director of Aries Agro Limited, an Indian Multinational company in the business of manufacturing of specialty plant nutritional solutions. Winner of the 2011, 2012 & 2013 Inc India Awards for the 500 fastest growing mid-size companies in India, 2013 & 2014 Inc India Innovative 100 Award for the 100 most innovative Indian companies under the categories of product design and responsible business, 2008 CNBC Emerging India Award in the FMCG, Food and Agribusiness Sector and the 2010 Brand Innovator Award, Aries is consistently recognized among India’s best-in-class companies with 85 brands in the niche plant nutrition industry selling at 90,000 retail outlets across India and also in 11 countries globally. Rahul was ranked amongst the 30 Most Innovative CEOs in India in 2014. He holds a Doctorate in Management Studies and is also a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and holds an MBA from the University of Canberra, Australia. Rahul has delivered sessions on Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Oxford University, UK and has lectured at over 50 B-Schools in India. A Past National Chairman of CII’s Young Indians he is the architect of Yi’s Farmers Net program and has served on the CII Agriculture, Innovation, International Policy and India@75 National Councils. He has been the Chairman for the Yi’s Next Practices platform and has also chaired Yi’s International Relations and Partnerships, playing a key role in connecting Yi with 28 Youth organizations globally. Rahul was the President of the Indian Delegation at the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit in France, the Chair of the G20 YEA Governance Committee and is the Founder of the Commonwealth-Asia Alliance of Young Entrepreneurs (CAAYE). He is the recipient of the Bharat Ratna Rajiv Gandhi Yuva Shakti Award 2010 in recognition of outstanding achievements towards Youth Empowerment and Inclusive Growth. Recognized as one of the world’s foremost achievers in his field, Rahul is listed in the Who’s Who in the World 2013. He is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Creating a Green Ecology for villages in India
Rahul’s leadership project aims to take on the major information gaps that agriculture in India suffers from. He plans to create a network of partners to collaboratively train thousands of Indian agriculturists and build productivity. Rahul intends to initiate a set of integrated platforms, also setting up customized agri-business management courses for rural students. The tangible benefits which are measurable will include soil health parameters, awareness levels in the target area, improved realisations per unit of land area, productivity gains, better price discovery and improved market access. A set of model villages have been identified for setting up pilots and progress on the expected deliverables are being monitored periodically for documentation and exploring scale-up opportunities. Standardized farming practices have been drawn up as well as awareness sessions on the benefits of adoption of these practices. Rahul is seeking to secure formal endorsement of these standardized farming practices and involve partners and mass media to promote them actively.
Rashi Talwar Bhatia –Partner and co-founder at Ashmore Investment Management India LLP,
Rashi Talwar Bhatia is a partner and co-founder at Ashmore Investment Management India LLP, an affiliate of the Ashmore Group plc. Rashi is responsible for advising Ashmore Group plc for their equity investments in India and is a sponsor and manager for Ashmore India Opportunities Fund, a category-III AIF in India. Rashi has over 16 years of experience in the Indian financial markets. Prior to Ashmore, she was Vice President, Asian equity Sales at Kotak Institutional Equities from 2006-2007, through India’s heaviest equity issuance season. Rashi led the Government of India disinvestment of Maruti Suzuki post IPO, during her stint as AVP – Research – Automobiles in Kotak (2005-2006). Rashi is actively involved with the Talwar Foundation where she focuses on raising resources and funds for the running and upkeep of St. Michaels Girls Hostel which provides basic education, boarding and lodging for 85 girls from underprivileged homes and other backward sections of society. The Talwar Foundation has also set up vocational training institutes on the outskirts of Delhi to provide market focused livelihood programs to girls from backward sections of society. Rashi holds a MBA from Vanderbilt University, USA, B.A. (Hons) in Economics from Delhi University. She is a Fellow of the Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Gender sensitization module
Rashi believes that the reason for violence against women lies with the upbringing of young boys. Her project will create a module on gender sensitization which will be imparted to young boys through schools and other community programs. Rashi plans to initially roll out this module in Delhi through the network of government, public and private schools. The Talwar foundation has tied up with IL&FS and the Indian army to open vocational training centers across all smaller towns and cities and both have been extremely receptive to running the gender sensitization module at their centers. The challenge is in the creation of the content for a country as vast as India. Rashi is now exploring the possibility of multiple versions of the module. The impact of this project may not be visible for decades but Rashi believes the need of such a program is urgent and immediate.
Sameer Walia – Founder and Chief Executive Ripples of Hope
Sameer, after calling time on his 26 years of involvement in entrepreneurship and management consulting, is now employing his strategy and execution knowhow in the development sector. Sameer has always been a keen proponent of effective altruism and has set up Ripples of Hope to further this cause. He is currently working on providing legal and financial assistance to under-trials that have been unfairly incarcerated by the criminal justice system. In 2003, Sameer set up The Smart Cube, a data analytics company. In the 16 years since, he has spearheaded its growth into a global leader in the analytics space, with offices across the world. Vital to his success was his management consulting experience in the 1990s–more than a decade with Accenture’s strategy consulting practice in India. He is an active mentor and investor in highly disruptive companies in India and UK. He is a contrarian thinker, an avid climber and loves to spend time trekking in the upper reaches of the Himalayas. He has run rafting expeditions down many white-water rivers in the Himalayas, and is also a zealous long-distance runner. Sameer is married to Ishita Swarup, a serial entrepreneur, and has a twelve-year-old daughter, Tara. He holds the 4Sight Class of Ananta Aspen’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and is a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Kabari Basti Rejuvenation
Sameer’s project is focused on bringing education to the poorest of the poor. Kabari Basti is a ghetto within Delhi’s largest slum, Sangam Vihar, with inhuman living conditions. The goal of Sameer’s project is to take children out of this environment, forever, using education as the tool. The program was launched in January 2013, by reviving a group of social workers who had worked in Kabari Basti earlier. Children are pulled away from their “work-homes” with the lure of being provided a wholesome lunch at a nearby centre in order to convince the parents to let go of a wage-earning child for three to four hours a day. At the centre they are taught to read and write; to play musical instruments; to sing and dance; and to play games. They are also instructed about the importance of core values and hygiene. A “formal informal school” started operations in January 2014 with 15 children and now has scaled up significantly to over a 100 children.
Satvik Varma – Advocate & Founder, Independent Law Chambers
Satvik is an Advocate and Corporate Counsel and founder of Independent Law Chambers. His practice focuses primarily on dispute resolution, litigation and arbitration and he practices at the Supreme Court of India and Delhi High Court and frequently also travels outside of Delhi to other Courts all over the Country. Prior to setting up his own law practice, Satvik was a partner at India’s premier law firm, Amarchand Mangaldas, where he specialized on cross border Mergers & Acquisitions, private equity placements, foreign direct investments and international joint ventures. During his tenure at Amarchand, he advised on the first Special Purpose Acquisition Company involving an Indian Company, advised on the rehabilitation of Satyam Computers, and was lead counsel for Ashok Leyland’s US$1.2 Billion joint ventures with Nissan Motors. Prior to Amarchand, Satvik was Vice-President and Counsel of the corporate law group at Lehman Brothers at their headquarters in New York, where he lived from 2002 till 2007. Satvik holds a Bachelor of Arts (with Honours) in History and a Bachelor in Law (LL.B.) from the University of Delhi. Satvik received a Masters of Law (LL.M.) from Harvard Law School, where he was a part of the South Asian Lawyers Association. Satvik is dual qualified and licensed to practice law in both India (1998) and the State of New York (2003). Satvik is a frequent speaker at various panels, seminars and workshops and is often featured on television debates. He regularly writes on business, law and policy for most of India’s leading business newspapers, magazines, and journals. Satvik has been an Asia 21 Young Leader, where he actively engaged with others from the Asia-Pacific to discuss issues of common interest to the region. He is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: SAIH – Support An Innocent Heart
Satvik leads a social initiative which he has termed – SAIH – Support An Innocent Heart, which helps raise funds for heart surgeries on children born with congenital heart ailments. A large majority of the affected children are from low socio-economic backgrounds and given the high cost are unable to afford medical care or treatment. As part of his Aspen Leadership Project Initiative Satvik is going to scale-up this project and attempt to broaden its scope and reach. His desire is to raise awareness about congenital heart ailments and highlight that the primary cause of such diseases are the health conditions of pregnant mothers. Towards achieving this objective he explores possible options of working with ASHA workers. Satvik intends to raise corporate funding or create a corpus of funds for proposed surgeries.
Shailja Mehta – Associate Director-Dasra Girl Alliance
At present, Shailja is the Associate Director at Dasra Girl Alliance and uses her ground level experience to build the Dasra Girl Alliance ecosystem. She began her working career in public relations with Procter and Gamble after completing Bachelors in Economics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and a Diploma in Social Communication Media from Sophia Polytechnic, Mumbai. She left her job in Media to following her instincts to become a part of the founding team at Aangan after her transformative experience as a volunteer in a Juvenile home at the age of 16. She has successfully demonstrated models at the grassroots level and lobbied with the state to change policy across 9 states, reaching 38,000 children. With a firm belief that ground level staff motivation is crucial to improve conditions in children’s institutions, Shailja conceived and demonstrated an innovative staff appreciation and motivation program now used across the country to train institutional staff. Her interest in child protection has led to her contributing to some of Aangan’s action researches and she has co-authored ‘Why Am I Here’ a survey study to understand the profile of 379 institutionalized children across India, tracing their journeys from their home to a state run institution. She is a Ford Motor Company Fellow, 2012. She has a keen interest and actively participates in India’s performance theatre world and has been practicing Indian classical dance Bharathnatyam for the last 22 years. She is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Pahaunch
Aangan’s work begins when laws, state policies, communities or parents fail to protect a child from abuse, violence, conflict, neglect and exploitation. Shailija supports children who live in India’s state-run children’s institutions or engage in dangerous work or risky activities in urban slums. Her goal is to reach such “invisible” and vulnerable children by strengthening both state and community systems of protection as well as building the child’s own resilience. The activities include community-based prevention, reintegration programs and linking the children to facilities and services, Government and Non-government. Constant dialogue and sensitization of government child protection officials increases accountability of such authorities. To begin with the project will be piloted in 2 communities across Mumbai and have the adolescents of the community lead this initiative.
Srikumar Misra – Founder & CEO, Milk Mantra
Srikumar Misra is an entrepreneur, founder of Milk Mantra, India’s 1st VC funded agri-foods startup. The new-age dairy foods venture leverages brand capital, functional innovation & technology to address the wide problem of consumer trust deficit. He is a practitioner & thought leader in conscious capitalism and his pioneering approach to creating wide scale scalable impact has brought the ideas of responsible entrepreneurship to the forefront of the business & startup culture in India. Milk Mantra impacts thousands of farmers in its ethical sourcing programme, whilst its flagship mass premium brand MilkyMoo has gone on to become one of the fastest growing food brands. He has raised multiple rounds of VC funding from blue chip investors, and his journey of unconventional funding from both impact & global mainstream investors and building a transformational business has been covered extensively, including by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, & Fortune, and is also reviewed in case studies done by Stanford Business School & Indian Institute of Management. In his previous avatar, he had a highly successful corporate career over 8 years with the Tata Administrative Service, where he rose to become Director of M&A at Tata-Tetley group in London. He worked across the world, from managing brand launches, to M&As in emerging markets like South Africa, Turkey, China, CE Europe. Leaving the corporate world in 2009, he returned to India to start Milk Mantra. An engineer and MBA, Sri is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network and is an occasional speaker in global forums & institutions
Leadership project/venture: Happy Cows of Odisha
Srikumar conceived the project Happy Cows of Odisha to support small-scale dairy farming for marginal farmers in Odisha. He intends to provide the necessary market linkages and extension services, so that farmers have at least one reliable & regular income source. A significant proportion of the marginal farmers in rural Odisha are dependent on low margin rice cultivation that doesn’t give them any regular income stream. Dairy is probably one of the only sectors that has quick impact and also the ability to transform socio-economic situation in rural areas in the long term. More than 20,000 farmers from rural coastal Odisha are already part of Milk Mantra’s ethical milk sourcing, covering around 500 villages. As the project scales up Srikumar plans to introduce it to other parts of the country. He seeks to build a dedicated service and team which will in due course become self-sustaining.
Suparna Singh – CEO NDTV Group
Suparna has been with NDTV for 25 years and has the highest-level experience in all aspects of NDTV functions: editorial in both broadcast TV and internet, revenue and cost management. She has helped NDTV create and run a major new property in NDTV Convergence, which is internationally recognised. It is and has always been a profitable venture (almost unheard of among similar internet news properties). She likes coffee and Golden Retrievers. She is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Promoting social causes through digital media
Suparna is using her access to NDTV’s universe of digital users to campaign for help for good causes. She has written and promoted stories that have helped provide medical assistance to young children who were too poor or too far down a waiting list to receive attention, supply blankets to Indian soldiers in the coldest parts of J&K, helped raise funds for a soup kitchen that provided free cups of tea every morning in Old Delhi. The idea is to provide an easy interface for those who want to help with deserving causes, issues and candidates. Eventually, she hopes to spin of this effort and focus as an entire website.
Viraj Didwania – Founder & Director, Foresight Bullion India Pvt. Ltd.
Viraj is the Founder and Director for Foresight Bullion India Pvt. Ltd. Prior to that, at the age of 27, he founded VMPL Shipyard, a young and dynamic enterprise focused on shipbuilding, ship repairing and the offshore sector. In a short span of two years VMPL Shipyard has successfully built and delivered ships to private customers and had an ongoing project for the Indian Navy. Viraj graduated with dual majors in Commerce from the Business School and Economics from the University of Virginia in 2004. Viraj has worked as a consultant for Ernst and Young and as an investment banker with Morgan Stanley, both in New York City. At Morgan Stanley, Viraj was involved in headline making M&A transactions and capital raising activities mainly for companies in the Metals and Mining space as well as some transactions in the Consumer and Retail space. In his current role as Director, Viraj is involved with overseeing the operations of ongoing projects and future strategic growth opportunities for the company. Since moving to India in 2009 Viraj has successfully made the challenging shift from a banker in New York to an entrepreneur in India. Viraj has successfully built a start up from an idea to an established player executing a project for the Indian Navy. Viraj is a practitioner of meditation since 1999 and became one of the youngest meditation teachers for the Art of Living (an educational and humanitarian NGO operating in 154 countries) in 2008. Viraj has organized, assisted and taught several meditation courses in the last few years both in the U.S. and in India. Through Art of Living, and other NGO’s Viraj has been consistently involved with charitable activities over the years. Born and brought up in Mumbai, Viraj currently lives in Mumbai with his wife Ashni. Viraj has a Private Pilot License since 2009 and enjoys flying single engine planes around the world for the sheer joy and freedom of the experience. Viraj has travelled extensively around the world including hiking and white water rafting in the Himalayas, backpacking in Europe and road trips in the U.S. He is a Fellow of Class 4 of Ananta Aspen Centre’s Kamalnayan Bajaj Fellowship and a member of Aspen Global Leadership Network.
Leadership project/venture: Supplying essentials to orphanages at wholesale rates. Viraj sincerely believes that children deserve nutritious, well-cooked food. Given this he plans to supply food to orphanages at wholesale prices. He intends to start with 1 orphanage and quickly ramp up to 5 orphanages all in and around the city of Pune in Maharashtra. Viraj will take individual orders from each orphanage, consolidate the orders, make a master buying list for each food product needed and discuss it with the sourcing team at Future Consumer Enterprises (a company headed by his wife). Once the best prices possible are negotiated he will organize the logistics so that deliveries are made on a weekly basis. Viraj plans to get his team at his silver company involved with the entire process and use company owned cars for the transport. As for this, costs will be minimal and most of them can be covered by his company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) budget. Viraj will bring in sponsors gradually so that the orphanages get the food for free.