Ankur Thakuria is a 21 year old student at National Institute of Fashion Technology(NIFT). He was the youngest Climate Leader from India at the Climate Reality Training by Al Gore. Ankur was an international delegate at the World Business Dialogue 2012 and 2013. He was also a youth diplomat at the G20 Cannes Summit 2011. The list goes on to include many more Summits and initiatives.
How does one achieve so much at such a young age? I had a chat with Ankur to find out the answer to this question and know more about this young achiever.
Hi Ankur. You are a Fashion Technology student. But your experiences are in diverse areas- climate change, world business, campus writing etc. How did you get involved in these varied fields?
Well, to tell you in brief, since a very young age I was into non-conventional stuff unlike most of my peers. I began my first start-up in my 8th Grade (although wasn’t a huge success but was indeed an important stepping stone for me). I took up as a volunteer/educator for Foundation for a Drug Free World, California (the largest anit-drug campaign globally), and since then I have addressed over 5K youth in schools and colleges across India on the ill-effects of drugs and getting the true information of drug use to them; helping them make the decision to stay off them.
I was the official Govt. youth diplomat for the G20 Summit 2011, Cannes and have been a part of numerous inter-governmental discussions, besides addressing and interacting with the 25 world leaders directly at the summit.
I began CampusWriting back in January 2012 and since then the site has grown tremendously.Today after registering over 5million unique IPs on the site, we have over 300 ambassadors across India, our presence in over 1000 institutes and we have been seeing traffic of about 1.3-1.5 million on average since Aug-Sep 2012.
All of this is a result of I would say, my hunger to bring that little change I am capable of. It gives me pleasure to see the little difference my actions or my social enterprise makes to people’s lives. That is what keeps me going and I hope to do more in the coming future to help people in their lives and to create a better place each passing day.
What were the challenges you faced on the way?
I think the biggest one was to convince people around me as to why I want to involve myself in out-of-the-box things. I remember even my choice of career at NIFT was after a lot of persuasion. But with time I am glad the closest of people in my life- my parents and sister were there to support me in my decisions. They were there watching me grow and taking the steps as I created a new path. They helped me get up and stay focussed in times of tough ordeals. And I will be ever grateful to them.
On the more professional front, one of the biggest challenges was addressing a hall full of youth who were mostly the same age as mine on serious topics like drug-abuse and climate change. How could I get them to take me seriously?
With time and after educating myself with an increasing number of presentations I was able to get a better grasp on the audience. I can now connect to them and makes sure a majority of the people in the crowd understand the gravity of the topics I am addressing. Also the training by Sir Al Gore last June helped me sharpen my skills and gave me a lot of credibility to help stand up to my audience.
Tell us more about your recent associations with Climate Reality and World Business Dialogue.
My recent association with Climate Reality has been the training by Al Gore and being called on as the youngest Climate Leader in India. I was shortlisted among thousands of applicants for the training at Istanbul. After the training I have given quite a few presentations on Climate Crisis in several schools and colleges as well as I have been featured in several news interviews like NEWSLIVE (TV), The Telegraph, The Students Magazine, etc. I also have an upcoming presentation to the members of the Ministry of Forests and Environment as well as one with TERI. I am glad to be a Climate Leader and I look forward to doing my part right in spreading awareness about the real picture of Climate Change across the globe.
Coming to World Business Dialogue, it is one of the oldest and most prestigious student run conventions that is supported and organized at the University of Cologne, Germany. Every year millions of students from across the globe and the finest universities apply to be among the 300 chosen to be a part of the conference. I had the honour to be among the chosen few for two consecutive years 2012 and 2013. Being a speaker or a delegate at this conference opens a whole new outlook to life and helps one connect to some of the best business leaders from some of the leading companies and conglomerations.
Besides these I have also been a speaker/delegate at the Harvard Conference in Seoul, US, Taipei and Dubai. I was also invited to the Cluet conference as a paper presenter in 2011 in Las Vegas. And the latest addition to the list was the Global StartUp Youth in Malaysia, invited as a youth leader by the Finance Ministry of Malaysia and the US Department of State. I was sponsored to partake at the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kuala Lumpur along with Global StartUp Youth.
I look forward to taking up the necessary steps to help affect more people in a positive way and to see the positive impacts in their lives with my start-up or my presentations in the near future.
Does success at such a young age make you complacent?
Well, I don’t have a direct answers to that. But I feel it helps me keep going and it makes me determined to hunt for opportunities to get my name on. It is like a constant push which helps me to continue putting effort in order excel and strive for results in whatever I put myself into.
How do your friends react to your success?
This is one question that I always look forward to answering, but only a few people have asked this so far. Well here it goes. Everyone is a friend but there are also those who would support and not judge you on what you have achieved and the others who change based on what you achieve in life.
Since my school days I have seen both of them. So I have a couple of friends whom I cherish and they constantly encourage me to do well. Although one might feel it would affect if friends tend to be negative towards my achievements, but in a way it is an encouragement and a push which allows you to do better and strive to achieve more.
What are your future plans?
I graduate in May 2014. For now, I have already got the Teach for India 2014 fellowship among selected few from across the country. I am looking forward to pursuing the same for the next two years. Following this I consider working for a company like Arvind Brands (where I will be interning starting January 2014), which would allow me to learn and be industry ready. After which I plan to develop myself in the business management field with a professional course and then return to my company to develop and grow with it.
I will also continue to develop Campus Writing. I believe devoting time and resources is easier when I am financially independent and have the scope to spend more on developing my idea. I will also take up the development of a couple of start-ups that I have been brainstorming for some time now.
Do you have any message for our readers?
There is one thing I always believe in, when you have an idea, have the courage to take that first step. It’s the first step which dictates your success in the long run. Because if you don’t act on your idea today tomorrow someone else will.