Students Discuss the Role Future Technologies Will Have

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Photos: Sarvesh Bhavaraju

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: Almost nine months after the class year started, the 48 high school students of the Youth Leadership Development Program were in the final stretch with the session that happened last Saturday, May 9 between them and graduation.
Some felt the pressure of the previous months of competitiveness – and held back emotions – that had been cultivated in them as they came prepared to analyze what they heard and relate their opinion in front of their peers and the teachers and mentors of the YLDP. But most held up and supported the weaker ones as they broke out into teams to report their conclusions.

Each team had a specific topic to respond to in the meeting room of India House as a panel of three judges – YLDP Board members Nat Krishnamurthy, Shrimati Kumar and Ritu Raju – graded their performance.

YLDP President Sushma Bhan presented the speaker for session 8 (there is one per month and nine in total for the class year which runs from September to May), Ann Pickard, Executive Vice President with Shell exploration and Production, adding “she has been called the bravest woman in the business.” Formerly in charge of Shell’s operations in Nigeria, Pickard is now in charge of Shell’s Artic project, which the Obama administration gave the go ahead to just this week.

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Pickard talked about leadership attributes at Shell: ACGP for Authenticity, Collaboration, Growth and Performance and in doing so traced her own career path and shared her experiences with culture, diversity and decision making. She said she had always been motivated to go to new places and take up new challenges, but always asked people on the ground what they needed before making decisions. She stressed the importance of diversity in making inclusive and comprehensive decisions.

The five teams of students took Pickard’s ideas and dissected them to respond to one question each from the judges, ranging from the lessons learnt from the Gulf of Mexico Macondo disaster to ways to encourage STEM studies for youth, managing innovation, its impact, deployment and risks. Each student in the team presented admirably and a few defended themselves well to questions posed by this reporter.

In concluding, Rachana Wood, Shell’s Director of Diversity and Inclusion spoke about Shell’s commitment to promoting different perspectives. Shell has been the biggest sponsor of the YLDP since its inception nearly a decade ago.
The students will have their graduation ceremony on Sunday, May 31 at India House, foregoing the last session due to time constraints.

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YLDP STEM Session Teams
Lessons Learnt: Anirudh Suresh (St John’s); Sashank Kuthapally (Dulles); Kaushiki Tewary (Cinco Ranch); Amrutha Immadi (DeBakey)
STEM Studies: Viren Joopelli (Austin); Kartik Talwar (Austin); Sachin Sanam (DeBakey); Sudeep Swarnapuri (Cypress Branch)
Manage Innovation: Mira Sankhavaram (Travis); Siddharth Gwrantha (DeBakey)
Innovation Impact: Sniesh Kalwa (Dulles); Tiki Selvan (Elkins)
Innovation Risk: Yalliniyal Sivaprakash (Kempner); Varsha Ranganath (Dulles); Shravya Prabhu (Hightower); Richa Patel (Cy-Woods)