This month we are shining a spotlight on new ELN executive committee members Nima Ranawana and Abhishek Sarathy! Nima and Abhishek come to the ELN executive committee as communications leads and will be helping us find better and more effective ways to get our word out to the ELN.
With a passionate (Scorpio) personality and hint of (healthy) sarcasm, Abhishek is a self-proclaimed news junkie, tennis enthusiast, french fry aficionado, coffee snob, TV binge watcher, and urbanist. Plus, he’s never not thinking about travel. Say hi on Twitter at @avsarathy.
An avid food enthusiast who loves discovering new restaurants in Toronto and is curious about everythin cultural, and, Nima works as a Consultant for Environics Communications and serves as a Volunteer Advisor to the non-profit organization Sri Lankans Without Borders (SLWB). Catch up with her at @NimaRanawana.
I was born in …
Abhishek: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Nima: Colombo, Sri Lanka
I currently live in …
Abhishek: Mississauga. I’m a GTHAphile and fan of my adopted hometown of Toronto – it’s the place to be in the world, especially now, because of its livability, diversity and opportunity.
Nima: Toronto, a city I love for so many reasons, including diversity, accessibility and of course the amazing food!
Diverse leadership is important because…
Abhishek: …it’s all about listening and learning, before acting for the greater good. Soliciting insights from people of diverse backgrounds can result in a mixture of different ideas and healthy friction— which can lead to more impactful solutions.
Nima: I truly believe that better decisions are made with truly equal representation. A better, safer society for everyone comes when no one is left behind.
Civic engagement is important because ….
Abhishek: …all of our thoughts need to be shared and represented, to create the home that we want together. As the great Jane Jacbos once said, “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”
Nima: being able to learn and make a difference when it comes to important issues in your city not only helps the people around you, but also gives you an opportunity to broaden your horizons and sharpen your own skills.
My greatest city-building accomplishment to date is …
Abhishek: …finding an opportunity to help immigrants settle in the GTHA, by sharing my own newcomer experience and our beautiful region. I’m a mentor for a small group of newcomers, through a unique program between CultureLink (settlement agency) and Luminato (Toronto arts festival) – together, we attend arts workshops, explore our region on field trips and volunteer at the festival. It’s a great format for integration, through getting to know our adopted home and enjoying its arts and culture scene.
One thing I do to ensure I continue to grow and develop as a leader is…
Nima: Growing Cconfidence in myself. Which means trusting your own abilities, intuition and skills, but also having the confidence to admit when you don’t know something and identifying where you can grow.
One characteristic every leader should possess is …
Abhishek: Empathy – it’s a deeper way of appreciating others’ perspectives.
Nima: Having an open mind – I’ve come to believe that being a leader doesn’t mean always having the right answers, rather being able to effectively collaborate, manage and bring the best out of a team.
One of my favourite places in the GTHA to visit/go is ….
Abhishek: …Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. A key feature of our region is the lakefront, and we often forget this… the waves, the buzzing of the propeller planes and the green ring of Islands in the distance can instantly activate zen mode. Plus, the Centre offers great activities, festivals and a café/bar.
Nima: Harbourfront on a sunny day – there’s something about being near a body of water that is somehow serene and invigorating at the same time.
A hobby/talent of mine that people may not know about …
Abhishek: …is my ability to binge-watch anything. Three episodes and I’m hooked!
Nima: I like to paint from time to time—I find it very relaxing! (My mom thinks I’m pretty good but not sure if anyone else agrees).
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or deceased, I would ….
Abhishek: …a paternal and a maternal great-grandparent. My ancestors came from southern India, a region teeming with rich history and culture. I’d love to travel back in time to get to know them, learn about their way of life and discover what their indirect impact was on me, now.
Nima: Can I have two? Ideally Prince would serenade me throughout dinner while I grilled Gabriel García Márquez, on his style of magical realism.