Team & Advisory Board

Sonali Rao, Founder, Pune Inspire

Sonali Rao Sonali is a Computer Engineer with an MBA in International Marketing. She studied, lived and worked for 22 years in the United States before moving back to her hometown, Pune, a couple of years ago. She has traveled across continents during these two decades and has experienced first hand the positive impact of being exposed to different cultures and different ideas. After moving back to India, she realized that there weren’t too many platforms which brought together visionaries from different fields.

With that in mind, she helped organize the first large scale TEDx Event in Pune in 2013. Support from people all over India & beyond poured in – CEOs, NGO founders, Journalists, Medicos, Industrialists and others all sent in their blessings for the event right off the bat. The event was a huge success – it was very well received in all quarters with extensive coverage in Pune’s media.

With that shot in the arm, she decided to go a step further this year – create an Event which would not just present Inspirational Speakers, but would carry forward their Ideas and Vision in a meaningful, concrete manner. Thus was born “Pune Inspire” – an event whose motto is “Acts that Inspire”.

Dr. Aravind Chinchure

Aravind Chinchure Aravind Chinchure is a Ph. D. in Physics with 20 years of experience in R & D, innovation, intellectual property, venture investment, business strategy, policy and teaching.

He is an inventor, innovator, worked with large MNC & Indian companies, successfully built a start up and mentors entrepreneurs based in India and abroad. He has worked on diverse technology areas in the field of materials, chemistry, physics, electronics, renewable energy and information technology. Currently, he is a Chair Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Symbiosis International University, Pune. Till recently, he was working as “Asst. Vice President – Innovations” at Reliance Innovation Leadership Centre (RILC), Pune. He was a visiting scientist at the University of Oxford, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Southampton University, UK, Institute of Applied Physics (IAPD), Dresden, Max-Plank Institute, Stuttgart & Dresden, Germany, and Paul Scherer Institute (PSI) Zurich.

He is recipient of international fellowships from European Union, Dutch Academy of Sciences, Max-Plank Institute, TIFR and Department of Science & Technology (India). He has received Innovation Excellence Award from Indira International for his contribution in spreading awareness on innovation across India.  He was recently invited by the former prime minister of Netherlands to be a guest of honour at the event held at European Parliament, Brussels. He has authored 28 research articles published in international journals in the area of condensed matter physics and has filed 4 patents as lead and co-inventor in different geographies including US, Europe, Japan in the area of fuel cells.

Arnavaz Damania

Arnavaz Damania Arnavaz Damania is the former president of the Indian Women’s Hockey Federation and former vice-president of the All India Council of Sports.She is the founder of Connecting, a Pune-based NGO that provides counselling and support to those who suffer from depression and suicidal tendencies.

Damania started the helpline and support group in 2005, after noticing an alarming rise in the number of suicides in the city.

Along with her team of volunteers, psychologists, counsellors and social workers, she conducts capacity-building workshops, discussions and programmes on parenting, anger management and life enrichment at schools, colleges, housing societies, companies, community groups and NGOs.

Roda Mehta

Roda Mehta Roda Mehta graduated in Economics (Hons.) and completed her post graduate studies in Business Management followed by a widely acclaimed career in advertising as Board Director, Ogilvy & Mather India, from which she withdrew after completing the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School.

She began her second career innings in the development sector, working as a Strategic Consultant, to harness corporate professional skills in this field. She serves on not-for-profit boards, is active on civic issues in the city of Pune and Maharashtra, and is a practitioner of Kriya Yoga.

Dr Shona Nag

Shona Nag

Dr Shona Nag completed training in Medical Oncology from Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai and St George Hospital, Sydney. She is currently practising in Pune , as Senior Oncologist in the Dept of Oncology at Jehangir Hospital .Dr Nag has conducted a tumour board at the Sassoon general Hospitals from 2003-2010. Dr Nag is Principal Investigator for over 55 global clinical trials, most of these have been in breast cancer. She has numerous publications and presentations to her credit.
Dr Nag is currently Chairman of Oncology Group-Maharashtra – a state based co-operative oncology group. In 2010, she was awarded the best principal investigator and site for clinical research in India by ISCR (a national body). The same year she was also awarded the GSK – Ethnic Research initiative for breast cancer research in developing countries.
She is a member of several International Cancer Societies and ICON (Indian Collaborative Oncology network) and has been on several advisory boards and DSMB’s for drug development in the country.
Her special areas of interest are women cancers. She is also involved in cancer prevention through awareness campaigns and public lectures. Dr Nag is a Trustee of the Nag Foundation, an NGO involved in Cancer care, Research and Education and a co-founder of a support group called BreastFriendsPune which is involved in the survivorship aspects of breast cancer. 

Monika Patel

Monika Patel Monika Patel is a freelance journalist. She has written a free-wheeling column called “Monika’s Musings” in the Midday for many years. She has also written many Travel articles.

She used to do the Poona Culinary pages for Uppercrust magazine. She was also the brand ambassador for MontBlanc in Pune apart from being actively involved in various NGOs and some activist movements. She currently works with a US Not for Profit, Indiaspora​, raising the presence of Indian Americans globally.

Nalini Sengupta

Nalini Sengupta Ms. Nalini Sengupta, Founder and Principal of Vidya Valley School started this school in June 2000, which has grown to a strength of 1200 students. It has an excellent reputation for being an innovative and caring institution that provides quality education. The Mission Statement is ‘Tough in body, tough in mind’. She was also invited to start a new school by the Dr.Vikhe-Patil Foundation in May 1991. It was one of the first schools in Pune to break out of the age-old norm of classroom based, exam-oriented education.She has been the Vice-President of Indian Association for Pre-school Education (IAPE), the Pune Chapter. As office bearer, she has been responsible for organising and conducting various workshops on pre-school education for teachers and parents.