Ashok's professional leadership story began at McKinsey and Company in New York. He was part of a small group that established the firm’s India practice.
After 17 years in consulting, Ashok moved to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) to take up an invitation to create Avahan, a program to stem the growth of the HIV epidemic in India. In less than three years the program was working in six states, and over 600 towns. The Lancet later credited Avahan with having averted over 600,000 HIV infections.
As part of Avahan, Ashok worked closely with groups most at risk to HIV – primarily commercial sex workers. The program introduced Ashok to an ‘invisible’ India which he never knew existed. He witnessed poverty and observed teamwork and leadership amongst the most marginalized women. He has chronicled these experiences in “A Stranger Truth: Lessons in Love, Leadership and Courage from India’s Sex Workers (Juggernaut 2018)”, a personal account of his experiences with Avahan. As a senior fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health in 2013, Ashok taught a course about the leadership lessons that he had learnt from Avahan.
Currently, Ashok heads The Antara Foundation, a non-profit start-up that he established, aimed at public health delivery at scale. The foundation has successfully designed and scaled maternal and child health and nutrition programs across rural Rajasthan and is embarking on new programs in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. He also leads Alexander Associates, a venture that is working to build a knowledge network linking programs doing similar or complementary work across India.
Ashok is a sought-after speaker, on leadership and motivational themes. He delivered the Gustav Nossal Oration at the University of Melbourne in 2006 and has been a guest speaker at various educational institutions including the Universities of Manitoba, Oxford, Pennsylvania, Stanford.
Ashok is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College, a post-graduate from the Delhi School of Economics, and the Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad.