SHA­HEEN MISTRI, 48 CEO, Teach for In­dia, Mum­bai


—Shelly Anand

The idea of giv­ing back to so­ci­ety was in­grained early on in Sha­heen Mistri. She grew up watch­ing her mother work with the hear­ing im­paired at the school run by her. “I used to vol­un­teer and spent ev­ery sum­mer among chil­dren with spe­cial needs,” says Mistri. These ex­pe­ri­ences led to Akanksha, an af­ter-school cen­tre for chil­dren liv­ing in un­der-re­sourced ar­eas, dur­ing her first year at St Xavier’s Col­lege in Mum­bai. “The cen­tre soon evolved into the Akanksha Foun­da­tion in 1991. Af­ter about two decades, I took time off to do a mas­ter’s in ed­u­ca­tion from Manch­ester Univer­sity, UK,” she says.

Fully Equipped

“I needed to learn the me­chan­ics be­hind ev­ery­thing, from build­ing a team to rais­ing funds. Af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the re­al­i­ties of run­ning a large scale non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, I wanted to ex­pand and grow my skill set, which made me go for my mas­ter’s,” she says. Now, as CEO of Teach for In­dia, a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion that is a part of the Teach for All global net­work fight­ing for ed­u­ca­tion eq­uity, she has 1,016 fel­lows and 37,500 stu­dents learn­ing in the class­rooms.

Dif­fer­ent Ex­pe­ri­ences

Her course at Manch­ester Univer­sity helped her sharpen her or­gan­i­sa­tion man­age­ment and fund-rais­ing skills. She chan­nelled that to­wards cre­at­ing an ex­pan­sive, na­tion­wide move­ment in­spired by what she learnt at the univer­sity. These be­came the seeds for Teach for In­dia to ger­mi­nate as a move­ment.

Takeaway Tips

For those plan­ning to test the in­ter­na­tional wa­ters, Mistri says, “You should never feel bad about ask­ing for help as you em­bark on a big change in your life. You are now on the path to fol­low­ing your pas­sion. Sur­round your­self with peo­ple who un­der­stand and align with your vi­sion.”

TORCH BEARER Sha­heen Mistri wants to make ed­u­ca­tion for all a re­al­ity

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