Episode 18: Nishant Malhotra Chats with Anu Prasad, a thought leader in the international development sector about her work at India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS). Anu Prasad is the Founder & CEO of India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS), a leading non-profit in India that builds and nurtures capacity and talent in India’s social sector. Before setting up ILSS in 2017, Anu was the founding Deputy Dean of the prestigious Young India Fellowship (YIF) and a founding member of Ashoka University, India’s first liberal arts university.
The video version can viewed here.
Image | ILSS
Let me share a brief introduction first. Anu Prasad is the Founder & CEO of India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS), a leading non-profit in India that builds and nurtures capacity and talent in India’s social sector. Before setting up ILSS in 2017, Anu was the founding Deputy Dean of the prestigious Young India Fellowship (YIF) and a founding member of Ashoka University, India’s first liberal arts university. Before joining the social sector, Anu held leadership roles at multinational companies such as American Express and TNT. At Amex, she led Amex’s global financial re-engineering to launch Amex Financial Resource Centre in India. At TNT, she was head of finance for the company’s North India region. An entrepreneur at heart, Anu has also co-founded and managed a successful travel company. She has also been a consultant for Dell Foundation on its education projects.
Anu is an avid reader, an active volunteer in civic causes, and a passionate believer in lifelong learning, all of which she incorporates into the ILSS proposition of lifelong learning and values-based leadership. She also mentors young professionals and senior leaders and sits on the Board of two non-profit organizations. Anu graduated from HR College, Mumbai, and received her MBA from IMI, New Delhi. India Leaders for Social Sector is invigorating the development space in India by bringing in a fresh perspective through leadership development and capacity building programs.
List of questions below.
Q1. Anu, you have a very diverse and rich experience as a leader both in the business and India’s social sector. Your work experience includes stints at multinational companies in leadership positions and as a Deputy Dean, Young India Fellowship at Ashoka University. You also set up India Leaders for Social Sector. So please do share with the audience your transformative journey as you channeled across various facets of life and work.
Also, do share your experience as a woman entrepreneur in the development sector.
Q2. The ILSS Leadership Program is the flagship world-class initiative of your non-profit. In one of the ILSS videos, you briefly mentioned, “ILSS has been designed as a bridge between senior corporate talent to repurpose their work and to attract talent to the dynamic and expanding social sector.” As a thought leader within India’s social sector, and with your background within the higher education space, please discuss how the ILSS Leadership Program positioned your cohort/ alumni to tackle challenges as potential leaders in the everchanging social sector ecosystem?
a. ILSS Leadership Program attracts actors from various sectors within the business and development arena. How does your leadership program coalesce your participants’ different experiences and thinking processes for a common purpose and social impact?
⮚ What gaps do you see among the leadership talent in India’s social sector viz a viz the global space significantly in advanced and high-end emerging economies?
b. How much of this gap can be attributed to soft skills or lack of investment in Leadership development
⮚ Impact evaluation plays a pivotal role in driving the social impact sector today. Going forward, how much importance would you assign to quantitative skills to succeed as a leader.
Q3. Fundraising is the most crucial aspect for social purpose organization, especially during the early days. Therefore, speak about your much-needed fundraising program in a country lacking a sound ecosystem that nudges actors within the development sector.
⮚ Do touch upon the tools within this learning program that enables multiple entities to succeed in their holistic endeavors.
Finally, we come to one of my favorite topics, quality education and learning for all.
Anu, you have considerable experience in enabling social change and impact through quality education. You led the launch and growth of the Young India Fellowship (YIF) program, Ashoka University’s flagship postgraduate program, for a couple of years. Central Square Foundation, a pioneer in facilitating quality education for the marginalised section of our society, incubated your prestigious non-profit. How do you think your top-down approach of developing the next generation of leaders will change the social sector landscape in India?
⮚ The pandemic has fostered innovation within the education and development sector, synthesising online learning as a platform for quality education for everyone. How do you think this sector will evolve in India?
⮚ Finally, please do share any message and ah-ah moment with the audience. Which attribute/s would you like to see in people for a long-lasting career within the sustainable development sector?
Thank you, Anu, for sharing valuable insights on the development sector. Deeply appreciate for sharing your time and speaking with me for The middle Road platform.