- He is joined by seven leaders across 10 industries who are driving unprecedented change and innovation.
Eight South Asian Americans are among Insider’s ‘100 People Transforming Business’ list of leaders across 10 industries who are driving unprecedented change and innovation. “The list does more than highlight career milestones,” the publication said, “it features the power players behind the most significant trends of the year.” The list has been compiled considering the happenings of the past 12 months, where “business leaders faced myriad challenges including inflation, a polarized political climate, and war in Ukraine.” In the U.S., “younger generations of workers seeking greater flexibility and autonomy fueled ‘The Great Resignation’ and a real-estate boom, and an ongoing debate about workplace culture and norms.”
Included in the Diversity Equity Inclusion category is Anish Melwani, CEO and chairman, LVMH North America, who oversees and coordinates the activities of the LVMH Group across more than 75 branches of the luxury brand in North America. Since his appointment in 2016, he has “helped accelerate growth of the group and explore new development opportunities,” his company profile says. Six years later, he has” successfully navigated a global pandemic that severely affected retail businesses, and he contributed to the successful integration of Tiffany & Co, LVMH’s newest jewel in its ever-expanding portfolio,” the company said. In addition, “he has worked to diversify the top echelons at its brands,” Insider said, adding that now, people of color ”comprise more than 30 percent of leadership positions in North America.”
Ali Zaidi, National Climate Advisor at the White House, and vice chair of the National Climate Task Force, is among the leaders in the sustainability section. He is the highest-ranking Pakistani American in the Biden-Harris administration and has helped shape Biden’s strategy that connects the climate crisis to social and racial justice, public health, infrastructure, and jobs. He’s currently “tasked with shepherding the rollout of the $369 billion in climate funding in the Inflation Reduction Act alongside John Podesta, who was named in September senior advisor to the president on clean energy,” Insider said. After moving from Karachi to the U.S., Zaidi and his family settled down in Edinboro, a mostly Christian town of just 7,000 people in rural Pennsylvania. He told Ozy News that the community in Edinboro “helped us get on our feet and chase after our dreams. That’s the America that I think my parents saw as a beacon across the ocean.” He earned a law degree from Georgetown University and did stints in academia, at a law firm, and as the chair of climate policy and finance for the state of New York.
Joining Zaidi is Vaishali Nigam Sinha, chair of the ReNew Foundation and Chief Sustainability, CSR and Communications Officer at ReNew Power. Although she spent 16 years in investment banking, she found her calling in philanthropy. She founded the online-donation platform iCharity in India and, from there, she “accidentally landed” in the green-energy and sustainability industry,” she told Insider. An advocate for female participation and leadership in the fight against climate change, he hopes to see ReNew Power’s work spread across the world.“I think the boundaries for climate change, for the global energy transition, are melting,” she told Insider. “As we look around us, there are humongous opportunities for us to be able to produce energy and make it fungible from one geography to the other. And we see ourselves taking the lead there.”
The Emerging Tech section includes Akshay Kothari, Chief Operating Officer at Notion who has been instrumental in guiding the company through its rapid growth. “I spent a decade building products, and the job I have at Notion was everything but product. I was responsible for really building out our foundational and our business teams,” Kothari told Insider, explaining his mission to hire experienced leaders for the company’s sales, marketing, product, human resources, finance, and other essential teams. At the start of his career, Kothari co-founded Pulse News, which he led as CEO, redefining the way people access news. Pulse was acquired by LinkedIn in 2013, becoming the foundation of the company’s content product line. At LinkedIn, he oversaw these initiatives as a product leader, and eventually became VP Product and Head of LinkedIn India. He joined Notion in 2018 after investing in the company early on. He has his BS from Purdue and MS from Stanford, both in electrical engineering.
Listed in the Shopping category are Dilip Kumar, Vice President of Physical Retail and Technology at Amazon and Amish Tolia, co-CEO and co-founder of Leap. Kumar is in charge of the company’s “Just Walk Out” technology, which allows shoppers to pick out what they want and leave the store without standing in line at a checkout counter. “Our technology services are operational in locations ranging from small-store formats to full-size grocery stores to locations that cater to high customer volumes, like airport and stadium stores,” Kumar told Insider. He joined the company in July 2003 and has held a variety of roles in Amazon’s Consumer business. He has led teams responsible for forecasting and supply chain, contribution profit, and pricing, and helped bring cutting-edge Machine Learning to Amazon’s core retail systems. He spent two years as Jeff Bezos’s Technical Advisor before joining the nascent Amazon Go team. Kumar holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Computer Science and earned his MBA at Wharton.
Leap is a retail-as-a-service startup that secures leases, designs stores, and manages operations for brands in exchange for a monthly fee and percentage of sales. Tolia is always looking for ways that brands can use data to ensure that their digital and physical retail channels are working together in complementary ways. Even as the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a boom in e-commerce growth, shoppers are still making most of their purchases in stores. “For the past 10-plus years, there’s been a lot of conversation around the death of retail,” Tolia told Insider. “We’ve seen that as more of the reinvention of retail, or the rebirth of retail.” Leap was founded in mid-2018. Today, about 55 brands — including Ring Concierge, Naadam, and Mack Weldon — are on the platform. Leap operates more than 80 stores across 11 markets in the US. It raised a $50 million Series B in January. He graduated from Indiana University and is originally from Detroit, Michigan.
The list also includes a Readers Choice section featuring Indian American founders of two startups — Rajatesh Guibande and Nitin Gupta.
Rajatesh Gudibande, president and co-founder of GraphWear Technologies Inc., is working to tackle chronic diseases and inequity in healthcare — all without a single needle prick. As the CEO and co-founder of the biotech startup GraphWear Technologies, Gudibande is pioneering the first no-blood, no-needle glucose-monitoring test. It could be revolutionary for the 422 million people with diabetes around the world who must subject themselves to daily finger pricks to monitor their glucose levels. Established in 2015, GraphWear has raised $25.2 million total in VC funding, according to Crunchbase. The startup’s most recent raise was a $20.5 million Series B round in October 2021 that was led by Mayfield Fund. “Finding an alternative, noninvasive healthcare solution has allowed us to unlock a whole new outlook on what we can do to better people’s health,” he said.
Through his startup Beans.ai, CEO and founder Nitin Gupta is helping to solve one of the hardest problems in the logistics ecosystem — optimizing the last 500 feet of delivery. “On demand economy is riddled with this issue, and we are challenging the status quo by creating new data that has never existed before,” according to the company profile. “Our proprietary models use this data to build optimized routes, cutting down discovery and travel times by over 25 percent.” Gupta thought of the idea when his mother, who was visiting from India, had a medical emergency at his apartment. “The paramedics hit my property about 15 minutes before they found my apartment,” he told Insider. His mom received treatment with just a minute to spare. The firm is also developing its business with the real estate and telecommunications industries. “Hotels have the same problem, hospitals have the same problem, universities have the same problem,” Gupta said.