Barath Venkatesh leads a team of 15 people as a manager with HP Global Business Services Analytics in Chennai, India, supporting the Enterprise Business Marketing Operations team. Shortly after starting at HP in 2007, he took a one-year leave of absence to work as an education fellow for a social enterprise that expands access to financial services for educators. When he returned to HP, Barath knew the skills he garnered and contacts he made could be valuable to the newly formed HP Catalyst Initiative, a program aimed at helping young individuals develop skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). So he reached out to HP's Office of Global Social Innovation (OGSI) and offered his help.
The OGSI team was looking for partners for the Catalyst Initiative in India, and Barath used his experience over the prior year to help them identify several organizations, including the Agastya International Foundation. Agastya is a hands-on science education program focused on bringing mobile labs to poor, rural parts of India—helping children learn about science by experiencing it firsthand. The organization operates 47 labs that reach nearly two million children a year. Barath visited Agastya and saw how the program brought science lessons to life, and then introduced the organization to HP.
Agastya applied to become a leader for the HP Catalyst Initiative's New Learner consortium. Together with researchers and experts from six other leading educational institutions around the world, Agaysta is exploring how to create new, engaging models of student-driven STEM learning that lead to higher school completion rates and promote "learning how to learn."
Barath continues to support HP's Office of Global Social Innovation on special projects, particularly those that impact India. His involvement allows him to combine his commitment to social enterprise with his personal background. "Growing up in India, my own education was unconventional in that we focused on specific areas of interest rather than traditional classroom subjects. It was an engaging way to learn," he says. "My experience gave me many ideas about how our educational systems could be improved. I am pleased to be helping HP innovate in education and make those improvements happen."