As someone who has an indomitable spirit, and draws insipiration from her parents- who in her opinion, have led an ordinary life in extraordinary ways, Akanksha Sharma struck a chord with me from our very first meeting. When I first met her, I had just got off a transcontinental plane. She was dressed in a casual cotton shirt and khadi bottoms silently telling the story of a beautiful heart of this beautiful girl. I remember being transfixed.
Her characteristic modesty and humility camouflaged the bold spirit that fuelled her to set onto a remarkable journey, one that I was glad to find out more about. As someone whose looks could easily pass her off as a young girl, Akanksha’s story makes you want to sit up and take notice.
Akanksha is an internationally acclaimed CSR & Sustainability Leader and a Policy Analyst on Responsible Business. She is noted amongst ‘100 Most Impactful CSR Leaders Globally’ by World CSR Congress and ‘Young CSR Leader’ by India CSR in 2016. She is also conferred with “Sustainability Leadership Award” by the World Sustainability Forum. She is making her mark in the Business and Social sector bridging the two for development.
After completing her Master’s in Business Administration, Akanksha has done her specialization in Social and Environmental Business Management from the World Bank Institute and an advanced course in Social Investment from UK Social Investment Forum. She currently heads CSR and Sustainability for Jubilant FoodWorks Ltd. and has worked with UNICEF and Vedanta Resources in the past.
And that isn’t all. She promotes Sustainable Fashion for weavers and local artisans and is also a “Peace Ambassador” of an international organization, Postcards for Peace, a UK based organization. She also writes a popular Peace Series for India and Pakistan. Her interest in Peace development comes from her home where her grandfather used to tell her stories of struggle for freedom.
All these speak volumes about her grounded spirit and beautiful heart. Mesmerizing in her own way she calls herself a ‘Gypsy Girl who just follows her heart’. Originally from Rajasthan, she is greatly influenced by the spirit of the ‘Gypsy tribe’ who wander courageously.
Akanksha is advocating for integrating CSR with the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN and the Government. She says, “We should build bridges and not walls. I’ve raised a petition and advocating for the same to align the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the CSR priorities laid down as per the law in India.”
“I don’t understand that in a country where everyone has time to talk about every trivial thing. Why is such a big development bridge overlooked? It is not tough, but yet not done. I’m talking about Rs. 15,000 Cr. of CSR pool that can be instrumental in aligning our development priorities in the direction of SDGs and contribute in positioning India in a better way on the global developmental scale.”
“Being a UN Signatory as India has agreed to implement and strive to achieve the 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and its 169 associated targets till 2030. However, considering the challenges India is facing and also acknowledging the resource limitation for development, the CSR investments through Private Sector should be channelized towards SDGs” she says.
Apart from this, Akanksha is also a brilliant writer and writes for Times of India, Economic Times, Dawn (Pakistan), Huffington Post and DailyO amongst many others on Development, Peace, Responsible Business, CSR and other issues. Her book on CSR and International Development has been scheduled to be released soon. She also promotes sustainable fashion and belongs to the first generation of sustainable fashion models in India.
The extraordinary journey of this ‘ordinary young girl’ in her own words has many more milestones. She is one of the few Indians who could step her feet on Continent 7 at Antartica, as she was chosen to represent India on “International Expedition on Climate Change at Antarctica” in 2017. She is now a “Global Climate Force Ambassador” and practices ‘Zero-waste living’.
She says, “I am just trying to be the change that I wish to see. It is not tough. What it calls for is a genuine concern for the people and planet. At the end, we all follow our heart.”