South Asian Pride in Fortune 40 Under 40

Oct/04/2021 / by Pratika Yashaswi
Lina Khan, one of the South Asian honorees in Fortune’s 40 Under 40 (image credits: Flickr)

We might be a little late to the party but this year’s Fortune 40 under 40, an annual selection of the world’s most influential movers and shakers, mentions four people of South Asian origin, two women and two men, and here’s why we’re celebrating:

Last year, Fortune decided there would be 40 selected out of five categories and there were a total of 16 people of South Asian origin selected, making about 8% of the list. For two years in a row before that, there were just two people of South Asian origin out of 40. This year, it’s four, or 10%. An upward and very hopeful trend in South Asian visibility on the world stage.

This year’s selection includes Lina Khan, Raj Kannappan, Rohan Seth and Akila Raman. Let’s take a look at their achievements and their contributions to the world this year.

1. Lina Khan, Federal Trade Commission

Lina Khan was just 28 when she wrote a brilliant, widely read 98-page article about Amazon’s anticompetitive behavior for The Yale Law Journal while a graduate student at Yale. After her article was published, Fortune writes: “…she soon became the golden child of the antitrust revolution, working alongside senators like Elizabeth Warren to bring tech CEOs to testify on their practices.” Four years on, she is heading the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as the youngest and possibly the most progressive leader in the agency’s 106 year history. With the looming implications of big data on our increasingly tech-reliant future, we at SEEMA can’t wait to see the changes she brings to antitrust regulations.

2. Akila Raman, Goldman Sachs

Koreo-Indian M&A powerhouse Akila Raman is chief operating officer currently running operational strategy for the global investment bank Goldman Sachs. Raman joined the bank in 2003 as an intern and has been with them since. She’s worked primarily with natural resources companies in sectors such as energy, power, and metals, and is currently focused on international expansion and growth in new products like Environment, Social and Governance (ESG). She is an advocate for mentoring people of color in her industry and is also a board member on Music for Autisman organization committed to raising public awareness through autism-friendly, interactive concerts developed specifically for individuals with autism and their families.

3. Rohan Seth, Clubhouse and Lydian Accelerator

When Rohan Seth’s daughter, Lydia, was born with a rare genetic mutation, he was told she would never sit, crawl, walk or talk; that nothing could be done for her pain. Like any parents, Seth and his wife Jennifer Fernquist refused to give up. They scoured “…100s of academic papers, built partnerships with scientists, translated foreign medical records, and self-compounded drugs at home.” They discovered that the technology to cure babies like Lydia already exists. But unlike most parents, they “open-sourced” their baby, a step that could save her and millions of others like her who are born with genetic diseases in less than a year. To this end, they started Lydian Accelerator to speed up this process for Lydia and for others.

4. Raj Kannappan, Young America’s Foundation

As director of the Center for Entrepreneurship & Free Enterprise at Young America’s Foundation, Kannappan promotes conservative principles of free market capitalism among students inspired by the ideas of Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley. With a presence on more than 2,000 college and high school campuses, and nearly $100 million in assets, the group has been quietly funding and supporting campus Republican groups and filing lawsuits against colleges that are barring right-wing speakers from campus.

To read stories of more pioneers on SEEMA, check out Ranjani Rao on Rewriting the Narrative of Life After Marriage


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