Trustees & Advisory Board


Syed Safawi
Business Leader, Start-up Evangelist and Philanthropist

After a distinguished corporate career that led to several transformations, Syed set up an investment company, through which he invests in technology platforms. Also, he co-founded a business solution platform called Optiwize that focused on family owned businesses and SMEs. Until recently, he was the global Managing Director and Group CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of VLCC, a wellness and healthcare group with its operations across Asia, Middle-East and Africa.

Prior to VLCC, Syed was the CEO of Viom Networks, a TATA-SREI-PE joint venture (where American Tower Corporation acquired 51% of its stakes controlling the ownership in 2016, which is counted in top-10 inbound M&A deals in India ever across various sectors). He joined Viom in 2012, post which the company turned around to its maiden profit in 2012-13. Viom became a sustainably profitable company with four years in profit of over Rs. 500 crore of net profit in FY15-16 compared to a net loss of over Rs. 300 crore four years back. The ROE was over 40% as compared to (-) 21 % and ROCE over 18% compared to 7%, four years back. Apart from the transformation in business, the organizational transformation witnessed an increase in people engagement scores from 62 to 87 comparable to Top 100 companies in India.

Prior to Viom Networks, Syed was with Reliance Communication Limited. He worked as the President and CEO of the Wireless Business and Chairman of the Reliance Management Board. He worked with RCom, taking it to over 150 million customers, with US $4 billion revenue and US $1 billion EBITDA.

Earlier, he was with Bharti Airtel Limited working as the Executive Director. He looked over the East and West India operations along with the international wireless operations. He was also responsible for the global calling cards business and the B2B business of mobile services. A large part of Syed’s professional career has been with The Coca-Cola Company, where was based at Vietnam (lastly), as Country Manager and CEO. He managed the business for Indo-china and supported Malaysia. He had served with Coca-Cola in India prior to that. Apart from the Coca-Cola Company he had served on the boards of several companies in India and globally including the Bharti Group and the Reliance Group. He continues to be on several Boards and Advisory Boards.

He is an MBA from India and alumnus of The Wharton School, USA and a certified Director from the Institute of Directors. His wife is a medical doctor, who works with international agencies in social and preventive health. They have two daughters, the elder one is working with Zomato, after her MBA from India and graduation from UK and the younger one has her own graphic design studio. With like-minded and socially responsible trustees, Syed has started the E&H Foundation, a non-profit organisation that focuses on providing quality education and healthcare to the underprivileged children in India’s state of Uttar Pradesh. The foundation has educated over 17,000 children since its inception and aims to scale up to 100,000 by 2025.

Dr Amir Ullah Khan
Economist, Academician and Health Policy Expert

Amir Ullah Khan is a leading economist who works with a leading international development foundation. He studied Electronics and Communication Engineering at Osmania University and Rural Management at the Institute of Rural Management at Anand. He did his PhD in Commerce and Business Studies from the Jamia Millia Central University at New Delhi. Amir has worked as researcher for the Ministry of Finance, Government of India. He also worked with UNDP for a Project LARGE (Legal Adjustments and Reforms for Globalising the Economy). He became the Academic Head at the Indian School of Finance and Management and later worked with Encyclopedia Britannica as Executive Director and Editor. He teaches a course on Indian Economic Policy at the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade in Delhi. His latest book for Academic Foundation is titled ‘Common Property Resource Management: A focus on Forestry’, edited with Dr Mousumi Majumdar. He has previously authored ‘States of the Indian Economy’ that analyses regional and interstate diversity in India with respect to access to water, sanitation, health and education and the net impacts of infrastructure development.

He has also worked on various research projects for the European Commission, National Council for Applied Economic Research, Planning Commission, Confederation of Indian Industry and the World Bank . Also, he has written about Economic and policy issues. While working for the EU, he worked on Agricultural trade and the impact of Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures. When he was with Oxfam and the Ashoka Foundation, he was engaged in agenda setting for their work in the development sector in India, particularly in Agriculture and Rural development. Moreover he was a member of a special committee for the World Bank looking at HIV/AIDS concerns. During his time with British High Commission, he worked on various concerns like moving farmers up the value chain, for USAID on unemployment and the vulnerable populations in India, and for the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) on what ails the small and medium sector.

Najmul Hasan Rizvi
Banker and Philanthropist

He has been an investment banker by profession for 25 years and social worker by passion. Najmul Hasan Rizvi joined as one of its founding trustees along with his like-minded friends to establish E&H Foundation. He wants to fulfill his lifetime goal of empowering the marginalized communities with quality education and healthcare.

After completion of his schooling at La Martiniere College, Lucknow in 1982, he joined Lucknow University. After receiving his Bachelors in Science degree in 1984, he pursued his MBA in Finance from Aligarh Muslim University in 1986. He dedicated his time working for 25 years overseas to pursue his passion in Social sector. He returned back to India in 2013.

Najmul Hasan is also associated with TMT, a registered Indian trust promoting education and healthcare services for the underprivileged community mainly in Uttar Pradesh (India). Over his association of 20 years with TMT, Najmul Hasan has worked actively with the team to offer financial assistance to academically strong and underprivileged students so that they can pursue their career goals. Also, he worked extensively to establish educational and vocational training institutions, providing healthcare and rehabilitation to the disadvantaged and most vulnerable section of Indian society.

He continues to serve on board and managing committees of registered Indian non-profit organizations promoting education and healthcare in India and aboard.

Arvind Kumar
Senior Vice President, Edelwiss Financial Servises Ltd.

Having worked for over 30 years in senior leadership positions in high performing family owned businesses and multinational corporations, in the Durables and Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) sectors; Arvind Kumar brings unique insight in business going well outside the realm of textbooks.

In his corporate career- as part of firms like Asian Paints, Marico, Dabur, Britannia, International Food Company and PepsiCo-he has worked in various business functions like sales, marketing, factory management, supply chain, corporate affairs, commodities purchases and international business.

His exposure has been to markets across the globe, including the Middle East where he held CEO positions in International Food Co, Dabur International and Strategic Food International Company (a Britannia subsidiary). His core belief is that power of people is the quintessential factor for success of any institution. He is passionate about gold standards achievements, value extraction and achieving results with ethics. He is able to visualize the global benchmark standards and methodologies to reach them

Arvind is now engaged in the area of Public Policy and Public Affairs with Messrs Perfect Relations and attempts to bring a science and value based interface between industry and the External Environment.

Arvind has graduated from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, with BA (Hons) in Economics and completed management studies from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Ulhas Vairagkar
Senior Corporate Leader, Entrepreneur and Educationist

Ulhas did his PGDM from IIM Ahmedabad in 1980 and subsequently worked for 20+ years with Hindustan Lever, ICI and Berger Paints. His last corporate assignment was with ICI where he was Business Head – Paints. His interest in education took him to MDI, Gurgaon where he was a visiting faculty. He left his corporate job to start T.I.M.E. – a coaching institute at Delhi in 2001. T.I.M.E. Delhi has trained more than 15,000 students and has helped 300+ of its students to get admits into IIMs in the year 2013 when he retired. He is the founder-mentor of Vanguard B-school, Bangalore and teaches there regularly. He also teaches at few NGOs and helps in capability building.

Advisory Board

Meenakshi Kumar
Special Educationist

She has been in the field of special education since 1997. She commenced her work experience as a covenanted officer in the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) and was with them from 1984 to 1991. She handled various functions like Organization Development and Planning, Human Resource, Software Development, and Client Servicing. After a postgraduate diploma in Marketing Management, from Narsee Monjee Institute, Mumbai; she worked with NIIT, and several Media houses, and helped set up a boutique to provide a window for rural artisans.

She started volunteering with the Spastic Society of India in Mumbai in 1997 where she taught for two consecutive years. She excelled in her education in Bachelors in Special Education from SNDT College, Mumbai along with an online certificate program for teaching children with Learning difficulties conducted by New York University. From 2000 to 2010 she taught at the two top ‘special needs centers’ in Dubai and got exposed to the cultural and national diversity. She was appointed by The Emirates Foundation, UAE to conduct a research on ‘workplace inclusion for persons with Down syndrome’. She also worked as a job coach, providing rehabilitation and academic training to children and young adults with learning difficulties and special needs preparing them to seek ‘mainstream’ work placement. Since her relocation to India in 2010, Meenakshi has been working with slum children and has rescued many girls in Mumbai and Pune.

Meenakshi’s vision is to integrate adults with multiple challenges into the workplace to make them contributive and productive adults by ensuring that each one of them performs to the best of their ability. It stems from her strong belief that each life has a purpose and that each one can make a difference.

Ronesh Puri
MD, Executive Access Pvt. Ltd.

Ronesh joined Executive Access in the year 1995 as a Senior Consultant and took over as the Managing Director in November 1997. Prior to this, he has been an advocate and a banker. Ronesh has worked on more than 500 searches across sectors, including over 100Chief Executive and Board level searches. He has led some marquee searches across all industries at various levels with the leading corporates, educational institutes and business houses.

He has successfully facilitated numerous leadership transitions in sectors like Financial Services, Real Estate, Consumer, Education and Industrial. Ronesh has served on the FICCI HR committee. He is also a member of the Confederation of Indian Industry, Delhi HRD Network and TiE. He was recently awarded the prestigious “Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Award” for being one of the most promising entrepreneurs in Asia. The Award was presented by Asia Enterprise Forum and included two ex ChiefJustice`s of Asian countries as members of the jury. Ronesh graduated in Economics from Fergusson College, Pune and subsequently completed his LLB and Diploma in Management. He writes extensively and coaches and mentors a number of Chief Executives. He is quoted prominently on Management and industry trends in various national and international magazines and newspapers. He also writes articles in leading newspapers and magazines.

Sonu Bhasin
Entrepreneur, CEO and Editor (FAB)

Sonu is one of the early and senior women professionals in the industry. In her career of over 30 years she set up and managed large businesses, and diverse teams, across financial and non-financial sectors in India and overseas.

Sonu led various businesses in senior leadership positions during her corporate career. She began as a TAS Officer with the Tata Group and spent 13 years with the Group before becoming a Banker. As a Banker, she was a Director at ING Barings, President Axis Bank, Group President Yes Bank before going back to the Tatas as COO Tata Capital Limited.

Sonu is an Independent Director on Boards of companies including Whirlpool, Mahindra First Choice Services, Sutlej Textiles, Max Speciality Films, PNB MetLife India Insurance Co. Ltd, Karvy Fintech and Berger Paints.

She now focuses on family businesses and is the Founder of FAB – Families And Business. She is a family business historian and is the Editor-in-Chief of Families & Business magazine – India’s only stand – alone magazine that addresses the concerns of family business owners/promoters/entrepreneurs.

Her first book The Inheritors – Stories of Entrepreneurship and Success, published by Penguin Random House, is a bestseller in the business books category.

Suresh Satyamurthy
CEO, TarneaTechnology Solutions

Suresh has held leadership positions in large companies (in CPG, Pharma and Technology sector) across India, Europe, US, APAC & Africa over a career span of over 26 years.

His last corporate stint, before plunging into entrepreneurship, was with Siemens as the Head of the Telecom, Media & Technology business.He has handled business facing roles with responsibility for both revenues and P&L. He is familiar in setting up new businesses and lived through two major M&As in his career.

He is passionate about technology and has created and managed several complex, innovative and award winning technology solutions. He has been a speaker at various national and international forums, on technology and its applications to innovation and supply chains.

Dr Rajiv Kumar
Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog

Dr Rajiv Kumar is the current Vice Chairman of NITI Aayog. He is a leading Indian economist and author of several books like Modi & His Challenges (2016), Resurgent India: Ideas and Priorities (2015), and Exploding Aspirations: Unlocking India’s Future (2014). He has been the Chancellor of the Gokhale Institute of Economics and Politics, Pune and is also the Founding Director of Pahle India Foundation (PIF), Delhi, a non-profit think tank, which focuses on facilitating economic policy change based on objective and rigorous research.

He concurrently served as: (i) Government of India nominated Independent Director on Central Board of the Reserve Bank of India; (ii) Member of the International Board of Management of King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, Riyadh, chaired by the Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Petroleum and Energy; (iii) Director, Institute of Human Development, Delhi; (iv) Director, Giri Institute of Development Studies, Lucknow; (v) Independent Director on the Board of DHFL; and (vi) Member, Advisory Board of CISCO, India.

In the past, he served as the Government of India nominee on the Boards of: (i) Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and Asia (ERIA) Jakarta; (ii) Central Board of the State Bank of India, Mumbai; (iii) Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Delhi; (iv) Part Time Member, National Security Advisory Board (2006-2008); (v) Part Time Member Economics, TRAI, New Delhi (2007-2010)

His earlier positions have been: Senior Fellow, Centre of Policy Research; Secretary General, FICCI; Director & Chief Executive, ICRIER; Chief Economist, CII; Principal Economist, ADB, Manila; Economic Advisor, Government of India; Senior Consultant, Ministry of Industry, Government of India; Professor, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade; Senior Research Program Officer, ICRIER.

He has a D.Phil. in Economics from Oxford University and a PhD from Lucknow University.

Rajat Jain
Corporate Entrepreneur turned start-up Evangelist

Rajat Jain, currently on the Board of two Bennet Group Companies and Neva Garments, has rich corporate experience in the consumer, media, entertainment, and telecom spaces in India, both at young stage companies and Multi-National Corporations.

Start-ups and business transformations are his passion and his key areas of expertise are understanding consumers across various spaces, building and working with teams, and growing businesses that revolve around brands.

An Alumnus of IIT Delhi and IIM Ahmedabad, he brings to the Foundation a wealth of over two decades of multi sector experience and strong industry knowledge and network. He also ventured on his own with a group of VCs and partnered with them to build and exit and create value in a mobile VAS company in 2010. He has a very rich corporate background with leadership positions at Hindustan Lever, Benckiser, Sony Entertainment, Walt Disney, and Xerox.

He has also been actively engaged in the development and restoration of the Braj Region, the Land of Lord Krishna, and has been a long-time Trustee of The Braj Foundation, an NGO, founded in 2005.

Sanjiv Phansalkar
Program Leader, Tata Trusts

Sanjiv Phansalkar founded and currently heads VikasAnvesh Foundation, which focuses on conducting research on the key development issues faced by various communities and grass roots workers.

Sanjiv Phansalkar was associated with Tata Trusts for more than a decade as the leader of the programme team and continues his activities in the Trusts as Programme Director.

Mr Phansalkar graduated as a fellow of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ahmedabad in 1989 following his PGP from the same Institute a decade earlier. He was a faculty member at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) between 1981 – 94, and led the International Water Management Institute – Tata (IWMI-Tata) Water Policy Programme during 2005-07.

Mr Phansalkar has authored seven books till date and several papers in national and international journals.