Inclusive Leadership: Closing the Digital Divide with Ajay Banga and Bhaskar Chakravorti

This week on World Reimagined, we spoke with Ajay Banga and Bhaskar Chakravorti about the importance of and barriers to building a more digitally inclusive world. Listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Today’s increasingly digital world brings with it possibilities to create a more inclusive and accessible global economy. But, unless action is taken to enhance digital inclusion, the world may become more divided than ever before.

In this episode, Host Gautam Mukunda speaks with two leaders dedicated to digital inclusion who explain how to earn people’s trust and create a more inclusive world.

Ajay Banja is the Executive Chairman of Mastercard, after serving as President and CEO for almost 10 years. Under his tenure, Mastercard launched a program to bring 500 million people across 80 countries into the global financial system, and one billion by 2025. Bhaskar Chakravorti is the Dean of Global Business at the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts, the author of The Slow Pace of Fast Change, and a former partner at McKinsey.

I think companies can set their examples and can lead by what they do…In totality, I think companies, corporations, need to start thinking about what role they play in the community they live in. And…to start putting real volume to the idea of doing well and doing good at the same time.

Ajay Banga

A combination of our inherent desire for stories, narratives, and personalities and the media’s need to continue to reinforce that, our notion of trust has been intimately tied, not just by the functions and companies but by the leaders themselves.

Bhaskar Chakravorti

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Guest Information for Inclusive Leadership:  

Ajay Banga is executive chairman of the board of directors of Mastercard. He moved into this role following 11 years as the company’s president and chief executive officer.

Ajay is also chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce and is an independent director of Exor, where he serves as chair of the company’s Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance committee. He has previously served on the boards of Kraft Foods and Dow Inc. Ajay is a member of the Trilateral Commission, a founding trustee of the U.S.-India Strategic Partnership Forum, a former member of the National Committee on United States-China Relations and chairman emeritus of the American India Foundation.

He is a co-founder of The Cyber Readiness Institute, vice chair of the Economic Club of New York, a member of the World Economic Forum’s EDISON Alliance, and served as a member of President Obama’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity. He is a past member of the U.S. President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations. 

Ajay is a member of the Weill Cornell Medicine board of fellows. He has also served on the board of governors of the American Red Cross, as well as the boards for the Asia Society, the New York Hall of Science and the National Urban League, among others.

He was awarded the Padma Shri Award by the President of India in 2016, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor in 2019 and the Business Council for International Understanding’s Global Leadership Award. He is a fellow of the Foreign Policy Association and was awarded the Foreign Policy Association Medal in 2012.

Ajay began his career at Nestlé, India, where for 13 years he worked on assignments spanning sales, marketing and general management. He also spent two years with PepsiCo before joining Citigroup, where he rose to the role of chief executive officer of Citigroup Asia Pacific.

Bhaskar Chakravorti is the Dean of Global Business at The Fletcher School at Tufts University – America’s oldest exclusively graduate school of global affairs — and the founding Executive Director of Fletcher’s Institute for Business in the Global Context. 

Bhaskar founded the Institute in 2011 with the mission of “connecting the world of business with the world,” exploring issues at the intersection of business and global context, including geopolitics, technology, security, development, the environment and the human condition. Bhaskar serves on the Fletcher faculty as Professor of the Practice of International Business and is the Chair of the IDEA Council: Imagining a Digital Economy for All. He also served on the Global Future Council on Innovation for the World Economic Forum and is Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, Senior Advisor for Digital Inclusion at the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Social and Economic Progress and on the Advisory Board of the UNDP’s Center for Private Sector in Development. Bhaskar has also founded and chairs the Digital Planet initiative at The Fletcher School, that follows the evolution of 90 countries as they transition from traditional to digitally intensive economies. Most recently, as part of this initiative, he has launched a multi-year initiative, Imagining a Digital Economy for All, IDEA 2030, which is investigating the role of data, digital technologies, artificial intelligence and applications as a force for inclusive growth, development and productivity. The first year of the research is entirely devoted to the study of the world operating by digital means during the COVID-19 pandemic. He also started the first all-digital degree program at Tufts and Fletcher.

Prior to joining Fletcher, Bhaskar was a Partner of McKinsey & Company, a Distinguished Scholar at MIT’s Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship and on the faculty of Harvard Business School and Harvard University Center for the Environment. He was a leader of McKinsey’s Innovation and Global Forces practices, served on its Knowledge Services Committee and taught innovation and entrepreneurship at Harvard. In a 30 year career, he has been an advisor to CEOs, senior management and Boards of over 30 companies in the Fortune 500 and policymakers at national and international organizations and worked across the Americas, EU, Asia and Africa, and multiple industries. He is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, “The Slow Pace of Fast Change: Bringing Innovations to Market in a Connected World” (Harvard Business Press) and is the creator of the widely-used Digital Evolution Index. His papers and articles appear in top-tier academic journals, multiple books and in widely-read media, e.g., Harvard Business Review, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Washington Post, CNN, Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Businessweek, Barron’s, The Hill, Salon, among many others. He was a former columnist on innovation for the Washington Post and Forbes and currently has regular columns in Harvard Business Review, the Indian Express, Foreign Policy and The Conversation; he is regularly interviewed by the press, and has appeared in a wide variety of leading media, including New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, National Public Radio, BBC, The Economist, New Yorker, CNBC, CBC, CCTV, Times of London, Al Jazeera, Economic Times, Times of India, among many others.

Bhaskar’s prior appointments were as a Partner and Thought Leader at the Monitor Group, a game theorist at Bellcore (formerly Bell Labs), assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign and TAS (India’s Tata Group’s “talent pipeline for leaders”). His PhD in economics is from the University of Rochester, where he was a University Fellow. He is a graduate of the Delhi School of Economics and in economics with honors from Delhi University’s St. Stephen’s College.

Literature Referenced on World Reimagined Season 2, Episode 12:

The Slow Pace of Fast Change: Bringing Innovations to Market in a Connected World, by Bhaskar Chakravorti

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