Ashok Alexander’s career has spanned the worlds of business and public health delivery. It has taken him, literally, from boardrooms to brothels and the most far-flung hamlets across India. In diverse settings, he has convincingly demonstrated how the power inherent in communities of the poorest, most marginalized women, can tackles seemingly intractable social problems at scale.
Ashok left McKinsey& Company as a Senior Partner in 2003 to establish an HIV prevention program (‘Avahan’) for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Avahan became the world’s largest ever HIV prevention program, working in six states with a collective population of over 300 million, in a pan-India partnership with almost ten thousand sex workers. The Lancet in 2013 estimated that Avahan averted over 600,000 infections. In 2014 Ashok set up the Antara Foundation (TAF), to see if the methods of scaling from business and HIV prevention delivery, could be applied to maternal and child health. Today, TAF’s innovations have been rolled out to every village (46,000 in total) in Rajasthan. Currently, Antara operated in nine districts of Madhya Pradesh.
Ashok has been a Senior Fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health and served on the boards of numerous social sector organizations. His career stands out for vibrant leadership in unusual settings, partnering with communities of poor women, and a taste for adventure.
He has several passions outside work – chess, where he has been nationally ranked, and classical oil painting. His first book “A Stranger Truth” is about Avahan and received the national ‘Tata Literature Live’ award. His new book “How the Light Gets In” is about Antara and was released this October.