Who is Ravi Venkatesan? Microsoft Alumni and founder of SVP India

  • Ravi is a business leader, a social entrepreneur, and an author. Over the years, he has led several companies and has served as the Chairman of Cummins India, Microsoft India, and Bank of Baroda.
  • Ravi founded the Global Alliance For Mass Entrepreneurship, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) and also served as UNICEF’s Special Representative for Young People and Innovation, where he started and led a global initiative called Generation Unlimited.
  • He was voted one of India’s best management thinkers by Thinkers50 and Microsoft’s Alumni Hero 2020. He currently sits on the boards of the Rockefeller Foundation and Hitachi Ltd.

Ravi Venkatesan is an Indian business executive, senior venture capitalist and advisor, and social philanthropist, contributing to the financial and social continuity of India and the world. He was voted one of India’s best management thinkers by Thinkers50. 

His impact is worldwide, and he relishes taking on the biggest, messiest challenges there are and finding a way to chip away at them to make everlasting change. “It’s a big moment when you stop obsessing over the big things,” Ravi said, “and take more joy in the small things — the many, many, acts of connected kindness and the many moments of connecting with people.”

Innovative leader in the corporate world

Ravi has completed his MBA from Harvard Business School, MS in Engineering from Purdue University, and a Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.

Her business and mechanical background grants him a strategic perspective. After graduation, he worked for many world-renowned commercial companies for a long time.

From 1996 through 2004, Ravi was the Chairman of Cummins India, an American multinational corporation that designs, manufactures, and distributes engines, filtration and power generation products, and led its transformation into India’s leading provider of engines and power generation solutions.

Venkatesan was the chairman of Microsoft India from 2004 through 2011, and after serving over seven years as chairman, he has been named one of Microsoft Alumni Network’s 2020 AlumniHEROes. 

He was also the co-chairman of the board of Infosys, an Indian information technology services company, from 2011 through 2018, and was the chairman of the board at Bank of Baroda, one of India’s Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) banks, which he held from 2015 through 2018.

Ravi is the author of ‘Conquering the Chaos: Win in India, Win Everywhere, published by Harvard Business Review Press, and ‘What the heck do I do with my life? ’ He is also a columnist for publications including The Economic Times and Outlook.

He believes in sharing his wisdom from his ongoing successful career with young people to empower the next generation to change the world and reach their full potential. Until now, he has served as a member of Hitachi’s Board of Directors since July 2020.  

Turning into social links and global philanthropy

His transition from the corporate world started after he launched Social Venture Partners India in 2012. He is the founder and current partner of SVP India, a pan-India collaborative philanthropy organisation with a diverse peer network of more than 500 individuals (partners) across 8 major cities in India.

In essence, SVP India is where engagement transforms lives, committed to fostering social change through strategic giving, empowering non-profits, and building a strong community of philanthropists who learn, grow, and create a ripple effect to bring about a positive shift.

SVP India’s vision is to provide compassionate and accomplished individuals with a platform to engage with philanthropy to create fulfilled lifelong givers, working towards an equitable India through structured engagement with NGOs.

Under Ravi Venkatesan’s leadership, SVP India has already contributed to sectors like Healthcare, Disability, Women’s Empowerment, Employment, Waste Management, Education & Youth, and Sustainable Environment.  

SVP India cooperated with SAGE Foundation

In 2022 SVP Iindia and Shahani Group’s SAGE Foundation partnered to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to use the latter’s AI-driven educational technology platform to help students develop key employability characteristics to expand its philanthropic business in India and Asia.

Also read: India announces a $12.54 billion investment into AI

He became a Rockefeller Foundation trustee in 2014 and started providing solar grids to people relying on the sun as their only light source. He also joined the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment and a Venture Partner at Unitus Seed Fund.

Focus on national affairs and entrepreneurship worldwide

While at SVP India, Ravi familiarised himself with one of the country’s biggest problems: the vast lack of jobs.  The scarcity of new jobs is alarming, and Ravi saw a pathway toward a solution to that problem: entrepreneurship.

Ravi founded Global Alliance for Mass Entrepreneurship, a nonprofit that supports and encourages young entrepreneurs to be successful and go on to create more jobs for people in India.   Ravi saw that the resources and technology were already available, but leadership was the missing link to real change.

To Ravi, entrepreneurship and leadership are complementary. The future of society can only change with the next generation leading the way to carry on the legacy of change. The goal of G.A.M.E. is to create 50 million jobs by 2030, through 10 million new entrepreneurs.

Along with G.A.M.E, in 2018, Ravi joined UNICEF as the special representative for young people and innovation. He leads Generation Unlimited, a global partnership dedicated to expanding education and employment for young people, the largest age group in the world sitting at 1.8 billion. It encourages and enables young people to take charge of their lives and become leaders who reach their full potential.

Ravi joined UNICEF and pitched an idea for a program that would encourage the younger generation to succeed. But Ravi hadn’t imagined working for anyone in a professional setting again. So, he takes on a special role, a $1 annual salary for him to stay on the payroll.

Also read: What is Global Founders Capital funding size?

During the pandemic, the unemployment rate has been higher than it was before. Not only is this a threat to the younger generation but delaying education is another result of COVID-19. Venkatesan is a member of the Government of India’s MSME task force, chartered with developing recommendations for small- and medium-sized enterprises impacted by the pandemic.

“If you can adapt you will flourish, and if you can’t it’s going to be extremely, extremely hard,” said Ravi. He encourages individuals to change their mindset to focus on the future vs. the present. 


Monica Chen

Monica Chen is an intern reporter at BTW Media covering tech-trends and IT infrastructure. She graduated from Shanghai International Studies University with a Master’s degree in Journalism and Communication. Send tips to m.chen@btw.media

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