Below is our recent interview with Zeel Patel & Eric Lin Co-Presidents at HPAIR:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to HPAIR?
A: The Harvard College Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) is a 30-year-old non-profit organization founded to create a forum of exchange for young professionals and current world leaders to discuss and learn about the most important technological, political, and economic issues facing the globe. The mission is to connect the top leaders of today with the future leaders of tomorrow in a dynamic forum of engagement. The organization is led by Mr. Zeel Patel and Mr. Eric Lin, undergraduates at Harvard University who serve as HPAIR’s Minister of Magic and Headmaster of Hogwarts, respectively. Since 1991, HPAIR has organized 50 conferences in 19 different host countries, touching the lives of more than 40,000 students and young professionals. HPAIR hosts two student-led conferences a year — one on Harvard’s campus, and one in the Asia-Pacific region in August. A significant portion of the proceeds are donated to charitable organizations around the world working to increase educational access.
Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?
A: HPAIR hosted the largest student-run conference in Harvard University’s history, welcoming 9000+ delegates from around the world (virtually) and brought together the world’s top Government leaders, Fortune 500 CEOs, celebrities, and academic thought leaders. The conference brought together the CEOs of all major consulting firms worldwide (McKinsey, Bain, BCG), technologists leading Amazon, Zoom, Facebook, Wikipedia, and Quora, philanthropists in charge of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.N., and Nobel Prize laureates around the world. Across 4 full days of programming, speakers gathered to share visions on improving the state of the world following COVID-19 by engaging in disruptive innovation across social, political, academic and business dimensions. Attendees committed to improving the state of the world by taking the information they garnered at the event, and democratizing it by bringing it to their local communities around the world in an effort to connect the leaders of today with the future leaders of tomorrow. A significant portion of HPAIR’s proceeds were also donated to charitable organizations to contribute to the greater cause of driving impact to those on Earth who need it the most.
Q: Can you give us more insights into your offering?
A: The core value proposition of HPAIR — like any academic gathering — is from the people who attend and the unique perspectives on the world they bring. Our notable keynote speakers for the summit, among many others, included:
· Bob Sternfels, CEO of McKinsey & Company
· Manny Maceda, CEO of Bain & Company
· Rich Lesser, CEO of Boston Consulting Group
· Mark Suzman, CEO of The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
· Jimmy Wales, Co-Founder of Wikipedia
· Ambassador Katherine Tai, United States Trade Representative, Cabinet Member of the United States under President Biden’s Administration
· Adam D’Angelo, CEO & Co-Founder of Quora, Former CTO of Facebook
· H.E. Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance for Indonesia, Former Managing Director & CFO of the World Bank
· H.E. Minister Nadiem Makarim, Minister of Education & Culture for Indonesia, former Co-Founder of GoJek
· N.R. Narayana Murthy, Founder and former CEO of Infosys, Board Member of the U.N. Foundation, Ford Foundation, and former Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum
· Andreas Weigend, former Chief Scientist of Amazon.com, Advisor to Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel
· Ajay Piramal, Chairman of the Piramal Group
· Muhammad Yunus, Winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2006 & the Presidential Medal of Freedom
· Aparna Bawa, COO of Zoom
· Justin Kan, Co-Founder of Twitch, Partner at Y Combinator
· Professor Peter Singer, Renowned Ethical Philosopher at Princeton University, Founder of The Life You Can Save
· Jessica Meir, NASA Astronaut
· Steve Aoki, Celebrity American DJ & Record Producer
Q: What can we expect from your company in next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: The future continues to be deeply exciting, as HPAIR prepares to host its largest in-person gathering since the COVID-19 pandemic first hit, with the aim to bring thousands of delegates and keynote speakers back to Harvard University in Cambridge for its annual Harvard Conference in February 2022. The organizing team is already hard at work, sending out keynote speaker invitations to renowned leaders and pioneers in their field, and recruiting the best young leaders to send delegate invitations for the in-person gathering. Be on the lookout for applications opening on our website, or through the organization’s social media channels!
Q: What is the best thing about your company that people might not know about?
A: HPAIR is entirely student run, orchestrated by a team of 60+ Harvard students who are deeply passionate about democratizing information and hosting large conferences. The leadership for the organization rotates every year, so no conference experience is ever the same, and over the past year the team was entirely decentralized — operating from 11 different countries, 7 separate time zones, and embracing the nimbleness of working remotely throughout the pandemic while being full time Harvard undergraduates. A well-deserved shout-out to the resilience of the students and the success of the team!