In Conversation with alumni volunteer Sharan Aggarwal
Sharan Aggarwal (MSc Finance and Private Equity 2016) is a self-employed Angel Investor with an interest in entrepreneurship and venture capital. He is also one of LSE’s most active volunteers. Sharan participates in our Shaping the World Advocacy programme, most recently working closely with LSE Generate as a mentor and as a host for the PitchIt! 2022 competition. He also volunteers as the Student and Recent Graduates Coordinator for the LSE Alumni Association Mumbai and Western India.
You have been involved with several volunteering opportunities at LSE. What have you enjoyed the most about the roles you have taken on?
What I’ve enjoyed the most about these various roles is the opportunity to constantly learn while doing – LSE clearly never stops teaching me!
The most enjoyable experience has been the learning curve, along with being a committee member for the LSE Alumni Association Mumbai and Western India. This role requires teamwork and collaboration with the School to secure guest speakers and external venues, and has allowed me to better understand the marketing and communication skills needed to host successful events. My role has helped me overcome my fear of public speaking, as well as gain invaluable technical skills that are vital for planning and running events such as integrating slides into a zoom event, creating breakout rooms and using Canva to create designs.
What inspired you to volunteer for LSE?
LSE to me is much more than just an educational institution. It has deep roots in history, with 18 Nobel Prize winners and alumni such as Dr B.R. Ambedhkar – one of the architects of the Indian constitution. Having a community of such distinguished alumni has made LSE renowned throughout the globe.
I owe a large portion of where I am in my career today to LSE’s reputation and its global network. And this has always been the primary driver for me to give back to the School’s community in some way.
In addition to this, volunteering helps me stay connected with the School. As Students and Recent Graduates Coordinator, I can bridge the gap between students and alumni, and between prospective students and LSE’s Student Recruitment team. I also reach out to our most recent graduates to make them aware of the vast LSE alumni network, and the many volunteering opportunities available to them – all of which I’ve come to appreciate more since joining my local alumni group and volunteering with them.
You have been involved with LSE Generate, using your professional background and experience to mentor and encourage entrepreneurship. In your opinion, what role will social entrepreneurs play in building a fairer, more equitable world?
Social entrepreneurship, which is at the core of LSE Generate, is extremely important in today’s day and age. Social entrepreneurs focus on creating positive impact by working towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. In doing so, they tackle issues such as gender inequality, poor healthcare, lack of education, poverty, hunger, lack of decent work and climate change, just to name a few. These entrepreneurs not only help improve a nation’s GDP and create job opportunities in their local communities, they also focus on promoting social good. This reaffirms the social contract which businesses today have with society, whereby they exist because of society and so their role extends beyond the purpose of profit.
As a mentor, you have provided many people with valuable guidance. What would you say is the best advice you have ever received?
With regards to mentoring, the best advice I’ve received from anyone is to be candid with mentees by acknowledging what I do and do not have an answer to. It is not possible to know everything. It is important to let them know what I can and cannot help them with, while setting the mentorship boundaries. Communications and active listening are critical in these circumstances. In doing so, the mentee can have rational expectations from me.
How would you encourage others to get more involved with the LSE community and volunteer?
Volunteering for LSE is, and has always been, a very fulfilling form of giving back for me. I’ve connected with people from across the School and built a fantastic network with global alumni chapters, as we worked together on several events and projects. No matter where in the world I travel, there is always a member of the LSE alumni community ready to welcome me and show me around. I think creating more opportunities for international chapters to work together would be a great way to attract the attention of the alumni and encourage them to get more involved with their local LSE communities and to volunteer.