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What active participation means for young people with disabilities


By Vibhu Sharma | Co-Chair of the Youth Council of the Global Partnership of Children with Disabilities and Global Board Member of Generation Unlimited.

Vibhu together with board members of Generation Unlimited

4 December 2018 - ​‘Inclusion’, is simply defined as the act of including or involving someone as a part of the group or a list. The definition does not only gives an extremely limited explanation of the word, but in fact, narrows down its implications by restricting it to what it literally says. In other words, it remains limited to including, and in fact, counting, everyone as a part of a group, when, in fact, in practice, it might be excluding certain people from the same group.

Being a young person with disability, I often find myself explaining to people what inclusion is, or what does it mean to include children or young people with disabilities. I move away from the very definition I gave above; it needs to be modified both in our vocabulary as well as work, if we do intend to include young people with disabilities.

My response, thus is, inclusion is not limited to only placing young people with disabilities in the mainstream setting, where, for example, in a group of ten, the other nine are the non-disabled, but it is rather, ensuring that young people with disabilities are allowed and enabled to access the same facilities, participate in the same activities, and have the same privileges as their non-disabled peers.

Today, I’d explain Inclusion the same way I did few years back to high school students, while conducting  a workshop to sensitize them towards their peers with disabilities. “Step in the shoes of a person with disability, and ask yourself, that if you had the same disability, and were to be a member of the group in question, what changes you would like, or how would you like things to work in this group? Your answer, I can guarantee, is the response to what should you do to ensure inclusive participation of young people with disabilities”.

The Sustainable Development Goals stress on full and equal inclusion of people with disabilities, while the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, through its preamble, asserts that everyone has the same rights without any distinction, and through article 3, mandates a full and effective participation and inclusion. But while the international policies manifest this notion of inclusion, it is far from being practiced. Children with disabilities remain out of schools.

I would like to share one of my most recent experiences, that highlight the spirit of inclusion, and how is it achieved.

I have recently been chosen a Global Board member by UNICEF HQ for its Generation Unlimited Partnership, which is aimed at achieving the SDGs, by ensuring that all young people, especially, the marginalized, are in education, skill development and employment by 2030. UNICEF organized two meetings of the board members, and being one of them, I was invited. Since I am visually impaired, I was provided with certain accommodation’s. What? And, most importantly, how? I was given all relevant documents in an accessible format, and I was provided with a Personal Support Assistant, who would assist me navigate the conference venues. Now if I was to be told, that they couldn’t accommodate my need to provide me with a Personal Support Assistant, and hence, I should attend and contribute to the meetings remotely, it would have been far from being inclusive. But what makes my experience standout, and the Generation Unlimited meetings inclusive, is the willingness, the readiness of the organizers to be able to understand my needs and respond accordingly.

There is, in fact, a very thin distinction between mainstreaming and inclusion, with the latter implying that young people with disabilities should not only be accepted as everyone else but should rather be given an equal opportunity with appropriate provisions that enable equality and give them an equal access as everyone else. Merely placing children with disabilities in mainstream school settings, without meeting their needs for access, is far from inclusive education, and so is denying them employment based on their disability, and so is denying them the information generally accorded to young non-disabled people. Combined, these inhibit their inclusive participation, even though, they might be mainstreamed.

In conclusion, I would highlight that inclusive participation for young people with disabilities is achieved , when there are not only equal opportunities, but also an adequate provision to access those opportunities, and in identifying these provisions, young people with disabilities themselves have a key role to play by voicing their concerns and being the agents of change, and thus, being empowered and empowering everyone who believes in inclusivity for young people with disabilities.

 

Mobilizing young problem-solvers across Thailand

Young people brainstorm around a table

Bangkok, Thailand, 19 October 2018 – The first Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge has been launched in Thailand. The Youth Challenge ‘bootcamp’ in Thailand took place on October 14-16, 2018, marking the first phase of a several months’ effort to convene young people to co-create solutions to key issues affecting vulnerable peers: especially those with disabilities, on the move or affected by conflict and natural disasters. 

Thailand is the first of 16 countries to organize the Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge in 2018. Generation Unlimited is a new global partnership of young people, the private sector, governments and civil society that aims to ensure all young people are in school, training or employment by 2030. 

UNICEF Thailand, together with KMUTT HATCH of King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi and Saturday School Foundation, hosted the Youth Challenge. The venue was packed with positive energy and creativity throughout the 3-day bootcamp which invited young people across Thailand to design solutions that can address the issues that affect them. 

Over 50 youngsters aged 14-24 from diverse backgrounds, including those from juvenile training centers and those living with HIV and disabilities, gathered to unleash their creativity in developing solution prototypes that can address issues they face in their daily lives. From 140 applicant teams of 3-5 members, 14 teams which best exhibited insight into the problem they want to solve were selected to join the bootcamp. 

Despite the country’s significant progress in early childhood development, there are still over 700,000 adolescents of higher secondary age who are out of school, 1.3 million young people are out of any form of education system and employment. In addition, two thirds of them are young women. 

UNICEF’s Executive Director Henrietta Fore made a special visit to the bootcamp to engage with the participants and offer her insights on their proposals. 

“It is so exciting to be here, seeing tables full of ideas and projects. In Generation Unlimited, you are part of a large group of young people over 1.8 billion who are between ages 10 and 24. So, all of your suggestions are going to be pushed forward here in Thailand and around the world. We realize that young people are the best problem-solvers. So, why not have them define problems, needs and solutions.” Executive Director Fore addressed the participants and volunteers at the event.

At the end of the bootcamp, the 14 teams “pitched” their ideas to the judging panel which then selected five teams that are ready to move forward to the global stage of the Youth Challenge. The five teams are: Fantastic Four (young men from Ubekkha Jevenile Training Center), Luk Reang (orphans of southern unrest in Yala province), Laga Joy (ethnic Palaung teenagers), Unlock Idea (young women from Pranee Juvenile Training Center) and Kla Kid Pichit Fhun (a team of visually-impaired youth). 

“We want to change the perception of business operators and the general public toward youth convicts like us. The biggest problem of youth convicts is that no one dare to hire us after we are released from the detention centre,” said 23-year-old Somchai*, head of “Fantastic Four”, a team of young men from Ubekkha Juvenile Training Center who received the seed grant.

“We have skills and we really need a chance to get a job to start a new life so we are not going down the same wrong path,” Somchai* said as he and his teammates were busy making a prototype of the “Change to Chance”, an online meeting point between employers and ex-convicts who are looking for a job.

“There are no winners, there are no losers. Everybody won today. The five teams that were announced are simply the ones we felt are most ready to move on to the next phase,” Juan Santander, Deputy Representative for UNICEF Thailand, told the participants at the end of the bootcamp.

Over the next three months, the five teams will receive further support and tailored-training from the mentors to develop and test their project prototypes. One of the teams will then be selected to enter a global review process together with other teams from 15 countries. During the global process, the five most promising solutions--in terms of impact, sustainability, scalability and reach--will be selected globally to receive $20,000 seed grant (around 640,000 Baht) and mentorship to further develop their projects.

*Note: name has been changed to protect the identity and privacy of the individual

New challenge calling on young innovators to design solutions to improve education, training and empowerment launches in Zimbabwe

The Youth Challenge forms part of Generation Unlimited – a new global initiative to get every young person into school, learning, training or employment by 2030

Young woman in orange t-shirt

HARARE, Zimbabwe, 24 September 2018 – A new challenge calling on young innovators across Zimbabwe to design solutions that will improve education, skills development and training for young people, and empower them to take action on issues that affect them, launched today.

Winning applicants will contribute to the success of Generation Unlimited, which is a new, ambitious partnership – launched at a high-level event during the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly – aimed at getting every young person into quality education, training or employment by 2030.

The Youth Challenge – which will take place this year in 16 countries worldwide, including Zimbabwe – calls for applications from young people to create solutions that will support the three key pillars of Generation Unlimited: secondary-age education; skills for learning, employability and decent work; and empowerment, with a focus on girls.

Currently in Zimbabwe 78.6% of children transition from Primary to Secondary school education. However only 22.3% proceed to A Level studies,” said UNICEF Representative, Mohamed Ayoya. “This initiative will provide young people with an opportunity to explore alternative pathways to a brighter and productive future that utilizes skills to develop their technology, green economy and leadership skills among others.”

Successful applicants will be invited to take part in a design workshop in Harare in November. Following the workshops, the five most promising ideas will be selected and awarded up to USD 1,000 each in funding and provided with mentoring to support the projects’ implementation.

In spring 2019, shortlisted projects from each country will be submitted to a global judging process. These projects will receive a further USD 20,000 investment, along with a tailored mentorship programme from Generation Unlimited partners to support them to scale.

The challenge in Zimbabwe is being implemented with support from UNICEF, and Boost Fellowship.

With 1.8 billion young people in the world, Generation Unlimited is a dynamic global partnership that draws on the expertise of young people, representatives from governments, multilateral organizations, the private sector and civil society to inspire urgent investment in education, skills training, and empowerment for the rapidly growing global population of adolescents and young people aged between 10 and 24 years old.

Generation Unlimited brings together partners to co-create and support solutions that are proven and have the potential to deliver results at scale, and to develop a platform to share knowledge and learning and provide young people with a space to engage and co-create.

With more than 200 million young people of lower- and upper-secondary school age currently missing out on school, instead of contributing to equitable progress, young people – especially the most disadvantaged – could face futures of compounding deprivation and poverty, unless urgent action is taken.

Generation Unlimited – which contributes to the implementation of the United Nations’ Youth 2030 Strategy – will complement and build on existing programmes that support adolescents and young people.

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Notes to Editors:

How to enter:
For more information please email Tinashe Mushonga: tinashe@boostfellowship.org

For more information, please contact:
Elizabeth Mupfumira, Communications Specialist, UNICEF Zimbabwe. email: emupfumira@uncief.org; telephone: +263 772 104 579

World leaders unite under new initiative to provide quality education and training for young people

‘Generation Unlimited’ seeks to get every young person prepared for future employment by 2030

On 24 September 2018 at the United Nations Headquarters (UNHQ) in New York, global pop group BTS who are UNICEF supporters at the launch of Generation Unlimited at Youth 2030, a High-Level event at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly, which opened

Photo and b-roll content of participants at the launch event will be uploaded in real time here
Generation Unlimited launch event will be live streamed here

NEW YORK, 21 September 2018 – World leaders will launch a new partnership to get every young person into quality education, training or employment by 2030, next week at the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly. Generation Unlimited will tackle the global education and training crisis currently holding back millions of young people and threatening progress and stability.

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres; President of Rwanda Paul Kagame; World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European Union, Ms. Federica Mogherini; UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore; United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake; Unilever CEO Paul Polman; UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lilly Singh; and global pop group BTS are among the global, business, education and youth leaders behind Generation Unlimited who will unite at a high-level event on Monday 24 September at 12.00pm at the United Nations headquarters in New York City to launch the partnership.

Without urgent investment in education and skills training, the rapidly growing global population of adolescents and young people – which will reach 2 billion by 2030 – will continue to be unprepared and unskilled for the future workforce. And with more than 200 million young people of lower- and upper-secondary school age currently missing out on school, instead of contributing to equitable progress, young people – especially the most disadvantaged – could face futures of compounding deprivation and discrimination.

Generation Unlimited – which forms part of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Youth 2030 Strategy – will complement and build on existing programmes that support adolescents and young people. The partnership platform will focus on three key areas: secondary-age education; skills for learning, employability and decent work; and empowerment. A Youth Challenge taking place in 16 countries worldwide this year calls for applications from young people to create solutions that will support the three key pillars of Generation Unlimited.

“All our hopes for a better world rest on young people,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. “The world is home to the largest generation of young people ever – 1.8 billion. Sustainable development, human rights, peace and security can only be achieved if we empower these young people as leaders, and enable them to unleash their full potential.”

“Your role begins with reminding us that what has been achieved, as meaningful and difficult as it was, is still not enough. We still have to aim higher and go farther. What is needed is focused and consistent implementation. We must also take advantage of the things we can do quickly, that require only political will. Whatever we want as Africans for our continent, we will have to fight for it. Africa’s prosperity will be built through patient work and commitment. African youth, own our collective future, through technology, entrepreneurship and above all, our dignity,” President of Rwanda Paul Kagame.

“When we invest in our youth, we are giving them equality of opportunity, a chance to achieve their aspirations, and a better economic future,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim. “If countries prioritize investments in human capital, they can transform the future for their economies, families, and millions of young people whose dreams are only matched by their will to achieve them.”

“Let’s make this happen: make sure that every young woman and man finds their place in society – through education, training or a good job – by 2030. This is Generation Unlimited, and I am proud the EU is part of it with UNICEF,” High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European Union, Ms. Federica Mogherini.

“The change in demographics the world is experiencing, coupled with fast-moving technological advances, presents a critical moment in history. If we act wisely and urgently, we can create a skilled cohort of young people better prepared to create sustainable economies and peaceful and prosperous societies. Young people may represent 25 per cent of the global population, but they account for 100 per cent of the future. We cannot afford to fail them,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore.

“With the UN Youth Strategy providing an umbrella for the UN’s work with and for young people, one of the first new actions is launching the Generation Unlimited partnership. I am excited to see how Generation Unlimited will roll-out as a tool to implement the UN’s system wide strategy on youth,” United Nations Secretary-General's Envoy on Youth Jayathma Wickramanayake.

“Today we have the largest generation of youth in history – a powerful force for change. 84 percent of millennials are convinced they have a duty to make the world a better place, and many already are. Through Generation Unlimited, we aim to ensure no young person is left behind by helping to empower them so they can create a bright future for themselves and generations to come,” said Paul Polman, CEO Unilever.

“We in Africa know that we have a critical window of opportunity in building better futures – either we capture the demographic dividend and unlock the human capital of our societies, or we face a lost generation and stagnation. The stakes could not be higher. That is why I strongly encourage my peers to play a full and active role in supporting Generation Unlimited,” said Tony Elumelu, Founder, Tony Elumelu Foundation.

“I've seen firsthand that listening to and learning from young people is one of the best ways to collaborate on creative solutions and address the challenges they face.  When empowered to share their voices, they have so many innovative and creative ideas. I'm endlessly inspired by this generation and am committed to do what I can to help them achieve a brighter future,” said UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Lilly Singh.

“In our LOVE MYSELF campaign, we talk about the meaning of true love. We encourage every young person to find the love from within themselves and spread that love to others. We think the mutual support from youth to each other is the first step to show love,” said UNICEF global supporters BTS.

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Notes to Editors:

About Generation Unlimited
As part of the Youth 2030 Strategy, Generation Unlimited launches to help address the desperate lack of quality education, skills training, and employment opportunities for young people. Generation Unlimited brings together a wide range of partners – governments, the private sector, academia, international and civil society organizations, and – most importantly – young people themselves, to co-create, fund and scale up innovative solutions to expand opportunities for the world’s young people.

Generation Unlimited leaders group members:
Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairman, BRAC; H.E. Dr. Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; Mr. Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Education, United Nations; Ms. Julia Gillard, Chair, Global Partnership for Education; Mr. António Guterres, Secretary General, United Nations; H.E. Mr. Paul Kagame, President, Republic of Rwanda; Dr. Jim Kim, President, World Bank Group; Ms. Graça Machel, Founder, Graça Machel Trust; Mr. Paul Polman, Chief Executive Officer, Unilever; Ms. Vibhu Sharma, Co-Chair, Global Partnership for Children with Disabilities Youth Council.

Generation Unlimited board members:
Ms. Shamma bint Suhail bin Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of Youth, United Arab Emirates; Ms. Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer, Plan International; Ms. Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer, Global Partnership for Education; Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi, Secretary-General, World Organization of the Scout Movement; Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); Ms. Harriett Baldwin, Minister of State, Department for International Development, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland; Mr. Sigve Brekke, Chief Executive Officer, Telenor Group; Ms. Sarah Brown, Executive Chair, Global Business Coalition for Education; Ms. Ilwad Elman, Director, Elman Peace Centre; Mr. Tony Elumelu, Founder, The Tony Elumelu Foundation; Ms. Henrietta Fore, Executive Director, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF); Mr. Michael Froman, Vice Chairman and President of Strategic Growth, Mastercard; Mr. Napoleón García, Youth Director, Nuestro Tiempo and Censura Cero; Ms. Kristalina Georgieva, Chief Executive Officer, World Bank; Mr. José Ángel Gurría, Secretary General, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); Mr. Ralph Hamers, Chief Executive Officer, ING; Mr. Per Heggenes, Chief Executive Officer, IKEA Foundation; Ms. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance, Republic of Indonesia; Mr. Safiqul Islam, Director of Education, BRAC; Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, The Netherlands; Ms. Natalia Kanem, Executive Director, United Nations Population Fund; Ms. Lise Kingo, CEO and Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact; Mr. Michael Kocher, General Manager, Aga Khan Foundation; Ms. Rosemary Mbabazi, Minister of Youth, Republic of Rwanda; Mr. Norbert Meder, Chief Executive Officer, SOS Children’s Villages International; Ms. Federica Mogherini, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, European Union; Mr. Sobel Aziz Ngom, Founder and Executive Director, Social Change Factory; Mr. Hernán Rincón, Chief Executive Officer, Avianca Holdings; Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General, International Labour Organization (ILO); Mr. Achim Steiner, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Mr. Justin van Fleet, Director, The Education Commission; Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, Secretary General's Envoy on Youth, United Nations; Mr. Liu Zhenmin, Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, United Nations

Generation Unlimited champions group members: Mr. Nikolai Astrup, Minister of International Development, Kingdom of Norway; Mr. Alexander De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Development Cooperation, Kingdom of Belgium; H.E. Mr. Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, President, Republic of Kenya; Ms. Tsitsi Masiyiwa, Co-Founder & Co-Chair, Higher Life Foundation; Ms. Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

For more information about Generation Unlimited please visit: www.GenUnlimited.org

For additional details please contact: Georgina Thompson gthompson@unicef.org +1 917 238 1559.

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Young People’s Agenda, new global partnership for young people, gathers momentum 

 
18 July 2018 – A diverse set of global partners working on major challenges facing young people are gathering in New York this week for the Co-Creating Solutions with and for Young People meeting. The aim is to address the troubling fact that many of the world’s 1.2 billion adolescents currently do not complete secondary education, are not acquiring the skills for decent work and are unable to impact decisions made on their behalf.

“We want to view this differently. We think that innovation will come from private sector, it will come from non-profits, it will come from bi-lateral and multi-lateral donors, it will come from countries big and small, it will come from sophisticated and unsophisticated groups, and that’s the beauty of it.” Said Ms. Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF in her opening remarks. 

“There will be solutions, ideas, things we can scale up, so be bold, be courageous, be innovative. Think about how you can help this generation.” 

The Young People’s Agenda (YPA) global partnership brings together young people, public and private sector partners and YPA Global Board members, to accelerate efforts to ensure that every young person is in school, learning, training or employment by 2030.   

The main aim of YPA is to mobilize and leverage partnership to identify solutions, unlock investments, and unleash the power of young people to address secondary-age education, skills development, and empowerment, particularly for girls. 

“Empowerment of young people, particularly empowerment of young girls, is access to information, and safe spaces to actually receive that information that could inspire critical thought.” Said Ilwad Elman, a young member of the Young People’s Agenda Global Board from Somalia. “When young women have the agency to make decisions for themselves, and have the safe spaces to be heard to do so, that is when they become empowered.” 

With the 17-18 July meeting, the process of co-creating solutions under YPA – its core business model – picks up significant momentum. Participants will identify and review existing solutions based on established criteria and discuss their potential for scale and attract investors. An exciting portfolio of solutions is under preparation and will offer viable programmes and strategies with a proven track record of delivering results. The most promising among the solutions will be matched with financing and technical support so they can be implemented and scaled up at country level and beyond.  

This initial set of solutions has been sourced through a co-creation process with a wide range of partners and has been curated and quality assured by an independent firm to ensure potential for scale up. The Co-Creating Solutions meeting also provides the first opportunity to develop the support mechanisms required to ensure their effective implementation and achievement of results at scale.  

Discussion on the establishment of the permanent YPA Secretariat will also take place during the two-day meeting, with the aim of producing viable options for a permanent structure.

Main priorities of Young People’s Agenda

Secondary-age education: In addition to improving the quality of learning for young people, there is a need for more formal secondary and non-formal alternative learning pathways. Providing these pathways should start with the most disadvantaged young people such as young people from poor households, young people with disabilities and young people who live in conflict situations or are on the move. 

Skills for learning, employability and decent work: Adolescents and young people should have access to opportunities to develop skills for learning, employability and decent work. They also need support as they transition from education to work. Examples of support include apprenticeships and internships. They will need digital and technological skills for the workforce of the future and emerging economies including the green and care economies. In addition, young people will need to master skills that promote leadership, resilience and tolerance. 

Empowerment, with a focus on girls: Young people should be given opportunities to civically engage, including digitally, and voice their opinions on issues that affect them – issues such gender equality, climate change and sustainability. Barriers to empowerment need to be addressed so young people, especially girls, can meaningfully engage in their communities and the world.

The Young People’s Agenda has been designed as a collaborative public private partnership with responsibility shared among the diverse set of partners. It will no doubt support key areas of UNICEF’s Strategic Plan and results frameworks. At the YPA’s core is the recognition that partners can build on each other’s strengths and respond to the different dimensions of this age range in an open, transparent and participatory manner. YPA is a compelling call for action to support global efforts to achieve the goals set out in the SDGs. Unlocking adolescent’s and young people’s potential is the calling of our time, a collective effort and a responsibility of all.  

 

UNICEF Appoints Special Representative for Young People

Ravi Venkatesan

NEW YORK, 26 September 2018 – Mr. Ravi Venkatesan has been appointed as UNICEF’s Special Representative for Young People. In this role, Ravi will provide strategic guidance and support UNICEF globally with high level outreach, partnerships and scaling innovations. He will help shape the overall strategy and approach of Generation Unlimited with a particular focus on engaging the private sector and identifying Regional champions.  Ravi will also advise UNICEF on its innovation agenda and assist UNICEF craft shared value partnerships with global corporations.

Ravi is a former Chairman of the Bank of Baroda; between 2015-18, he oversaw the turnaround of India's second largest public sector bank. Prior to this, as Chairman of Microsoft India, Ravi helped build India into Microsoft's second-largest presence in the world. He has also served as Chairman of Cummins India, and Co-Chairman of Infosys Ltd.

Ravi is the founder of the Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship (GAME), a coalition which aims to create 10 million local entrepreneurs in India and Africa by 2030. He also founded Social Venture Partners India, a pan-India network of philanthropists and is a partner at impact investor Unitus Ventures. He is a Trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation and the author of an acclaimed book “Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere”.

Ravi has an MBA from Harvard Business School, was voted as one of India’s best management thinkers by Thinkers50 and is one of Linkedin’s Global Influencers. Having worked in the private and public sectors across three continents, Ravi brings a wealth of experience in leadership, globalization, innovation and approaches to social change.

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