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Siddharth sends greetings from London - he says "experiment widely and reflect deeply"

by CF Team on 4th June, 2017 at 8:18 PM CEST

The CF Reflections are still on! Last time we heard from dear Sayanee Basu from Singapore, who shared a very important message to all CF-ers around the world. This time, the CF Snowball flies to Siddharth Rajgopalan from India, giving his reflection within the scope of our ongoing action. CF Summit 2013 alumni will most certainly remember Sid as "Mr. President"; as one of the most prominent alumni members of the 2013 summit - here's what he shares with us: 

 

CF: Where were you in life before the CF Summit 2013 - in terms of career, personal development, and what motivates you?

Sid: Around the time of the CF Summit, I was right in the middle of my undergraduate degree studying in Singapore. I was disillusioned with my Engineering curriculum and desperately searching for something that would motivate me and push me towards a career of interest. I was ambitious and driven and took every opportunity that came along. 

I got involved in Singapore’s entrepreneurship scene through Start-up@Singapore, which had the fortune to organize. It was through this platform that I came across Sustainable Living Lab and Ground-Up Initiative. Coming across these initiatives changed my career trajectory forever. I quickly got involved and realized how meaningful it was to immerse myself in a budding start-up that a strong social mission. 

Although I was extremely eager, I was blind to what exactly my abilities were and what I could bring to the table to grow a social enterprise. This led to the situation of experimenting in multiple roles and trying my hand at sales, project management, product development, community building, fundraising etc. 

Fast-forward to 2017, I am currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration at London School of Economics. I am still motivated to work towards social impact but wiser after experiences on the ground working in the social and tech sector. I am inspired by data science and the possibilities of data-driven solutions to public policy issues. The sector is ripe for new ideas and solutions.

I am more self-assured of what skills I bring to the table and how I would like to develop. I am still aiming to start and work full time for my own enterprise by the time I turn 30.

CF: How has CF impacted your life? Or, what has shaped your life and work the most in the past 5 years? 

Sid: I attended the C:F conference in 2013 and it definitely played a key role in terms of personal growth and career development. It was a great opportunity to showcase the great work Ground-Up Initiative was working on in Singapore. The conference provided a lot of validation and encouragement for the initiative! 

Personally, I really understood my strengths in communicating ideas and public speaking. I was practicing these skills for a while but C:F provided me the grand stage and validation in front of an international audience. I realized how much I enjoy working in groups, ideating and designing solutions to hard problems.

CF: Have you noticed any changes in your corner of the world from climate change, social movements, migration, globalization, or other political, environmental, or economic drivers of change? Positive or negative, please describe. 

Sid: I am still very new in London and getting acclimatized to the local drivers of change. It is a great time to be in London as the UK is at the crossroads in terms of important decisions regarding Brexit. The exact terms of the departure from the EU will unfold soon and will definitely have repercussions on UK's future climate change and migration policies. 

As a separate observation, there is a vibrant tech start-up ecosystem here and there are a number of new incubators and accelerators that are encouraging the intersection of technology and social impact. It will be interesting to see initiatives that arise on this front.

CF: Where do you focus your energy at the moment? Which challenges are you tackling or do you feel inspired to change?

Sid: Currently, since I am back studying, my main focus is towards my course and really understanding LSE’s approach to tackling public policy challenges. 

I am trying to master a skill (data science) and hope to use that as my key tool to drive change. This tool can be applied in so many areas including policy intervention and evaluation. I am particularly curious about open data and how governments can leverage open data to promote citizen-led initiatives. I am also curious to explore the application of data science in new areas of analysis and prediction at the intersection of politics and social media. 

CF: Are your dreams and visions of the world from 5 years ago still the same? How did they develop or change? What would be the symbol or image that represents the change you want to see in the world?

Sid: My worldview is definitely not the same as it was 5 years ago. I have changed a lot as a person and so have my values, beliefs, and opinions on various matters. I am less ideological to a certain extent, but more critical and pragmatic in the way I approach things. 

At the core, I still hope to contribute towards a more equitable and sustainable world but the channel through which I hope to do that is still uncertain and evolving dynamically.

CF: What one lesson would you share from your experiences in the last 5 years? 

Sid: The key lesson is to experiment widely and reflect deeply. It’s been a long 5 years in terms of experimenting on different areas that interest me and drive me. 

I have been searching for what motivates me, what my strengths are and how best I can contribute towards the common good. Each new experience and experiment have helped me reflect and understand myself and the world better. 

I can’t say I don’t have any regrets but I definitely would not change any of my decisions. I have had a nonconventional journey in terms of a career but I consider myself extremely privileged and lucky to be where I am right now.

Anyone else with the privilege and luxury to experiment should take every opportunity to try something unconventional (start an enterprise, work for a non-profit, travel, learn a new skill etc) to discover what drives them.

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Muhammad Ali Ali

Muhammad Ali Ali

Sid
You are our hero.
keep growing deary....

9th June, 2017 @ 12:46 AM CEST

Stefan Alievikj

Stefan Alievikj | C:F staff

It's good to hear from you roomie - it's been a while! :)

How are things in London these days - tell us more. Do you think Brexit will affect only in terms of climate change and migration policies? What about the economic turn? And how are people reacting to all that's going around?

Cheers
Stefan


13th June, 2017 @ 9:58 PM CEST

Siddharth Rajgopalan

Siddharth Rajgopalan | Action team

It's definitely an exciting time to be in London. Brexit will definitely affect UK's future in many more areas beyond climate change and migration. Economic effects are probably the ones most debated and the one with the most uncertainty. Both the remain and leave camps have strong opinions on the economic effects but the way the markets have been reacting are not as predicted. I am quite keen on the topic and will be following it very closely while studying the academic side of things as well.

In terms of reactions, it's hard to say what's the ground sentiment as London is quite a global city that is well insulated from the rest of the country in terms of the political division. The echo chambers are quite real when one studies in a liberal academic institution.

18th June, 2017 @ 9:01 PM CEST

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