Akanksha Sharma draws inspiration from her parents – who in her opinion, have led an ordinary life in extraordinary ways. Coming from a small town, it wasn’t easy for her to carve out her way. She owes it to her parents for never losing trust in her and always encouraging her to do well in life.
“Though my parents had a very challenging life, I can never express how grateful I am to them for raising me and my sister in a very unconventional way and whatever I am doing in my life is just because of the values inculcated by them at a very young age,” says Akanksha.
Born in Jaipur, Akanksha loved helping others since her childhood.
She says, “I’ve seen pain and illness very closely in my family. In fact, a large part of my growing years was colored by the stark reality that my mother has been battling a chronic, debilitating heart disease. Though, she is the strongest person I know. But, perhaps this has made me more sensitive to others suffering.”
“From a very young age, I think I was sensitive to pain like as a child, I remember collecting funds for Tsunami victims from all my relatives and neighbors. I didn’t even know the meaning of disaster at that age. But I could just feel it all. As a child, maybe, we love more. I also remember that I used often to bring home, injured stray animals and my father used to feed them… so when you are asking me ‘why this sector?’- I have no answer, maybe, it was the cosmic design.”
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 an MNC and has worked with UNICEF and other leading corporates in the past.
She is an internationally acclaimed CSR & Sustainability Leader and is a leading voice on Corporate Diplomacy. She is also a writer and a Sustainable Fashion curator/ model.
She is also a “Global Shaper of the World Economic Forum.”
She is noted amongst ‘100 Most Impactful CSR Leaders Globally’ by World CSR Congress, ‘Young CSR Leader’ by India CSR in 2016 and is also conferred with the “Sustainability Leadership Award” by the World Sustainability Forum. Akanksha is making her mark in the Business and Social sector bridging the two for development.
She calls herself a ‘Gypsy Girl’, who just follows her heart. Being from Rajasthan, she is greatly influenced by the spirit of the ‘Gypsy tribe’ who wander courageously.
Failures and Challenges
Life is a constant battle. There are times in everyone’s life that make us question our belief system and the path that we have chosen. But I think, those are the times that makes us stronger and also create beautiful stories of our struggles. I have learned to cherish my struggles and failures, it fuels growth. Magic always lies outside our comfort zones.
On CSR and Development
“CSR is an evolving subject and with the economies growing more on Big data, private investments for development shall be imperative and this would have a huge routing through CSR. Not only India, many other countries are now mandating CSR including UAE. This reflects the potential of CSR sector in the years to come,” says Akanksha.
She 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’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.”
“I find writing liberating. It’s a spiritual practice for me.”
Akanksha is a regular writer for Times of India, Economic Times and Huffington Post amongst many others on Corporate Diplomacy, Development, Responsible Business, CSR and other issues. Her book on CSR and International Development has been scheduled to publish soon.
She also writes a popular Peace Series for India and Pakistan which gets published in the Dawn (Pakistan). Her interest in Peace development comes from her home where her grandfather used to tell her stories of struggle for freedom.
Akanksha is also a “Peace Ambassador” of an international organization, Postcards for Peace, a UK based organization.
Akanksha promotes sustainable fashion for weavers and belongs to the first generation of sustainable fashion models in India. She says, “The clothes we wear tell a story of the weavers, and their pain and sweat, that doesn’t be camouflaged by the fast-fashion.”
Love for Environment
She is now a ’Global Climate Force Ambassador’ and practices Zero-waste living. She was chosen to represent India on “International Expedition on Climate Change at Antarctica” in 2017, a leadership program hosted by Robert Swan and 2041 to bring together selected leaders from across the world to experience the effects of climatic change in real time and brainstorm solutions to combat them.
She says, “I am just trying to be the change that I wish to see. It’s not tough. What it calls for is a genuine concern for the people and planet. At the end, we all follow our heart.”
Message to Young Girls
Know who you really are because I strongly believe that each one of us is a storehouse of infinite potential. Break all stereotypes and navigate your way into the world through compassion and courage. There will be times when you will feel low and disappointed, but those times that will actually decide the future trajectory of your dreams. Just go out and win the world.
“I think I am too young to give any life lesson to anyone,” she says with a big smile.
But whenever I feel lost in life I remember this quote of Rumi:
“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.”
The ultimate Aim in Life
Akanksha wishes to reach out to every single being with abundant love and compassion. She says, “This is what the world needs today more than anything else.”
“Won’t it be awesome? Imagine! The whole universe would look like a boulevard. My only wish is to make my story of life, a story of love, not restricted to the people or things I love but expanded beyond limits,” concludes Akanksha.