“Akil is an Activist for Human Rights & a passionate Advocate for a united Europe. As Co-Founder of Stand Up for Europe Munich & Member of the World Economic Forum Policy Group to Renew Europe he was recognized in 2018 as Forbes 30 Under 30 in Europe. In 2016 he was listed as Top 100 Visionary Leaders (Under 30) by the Real Leaders Magazine for his remarkable work to support refugees avoiding active mine fields.”
1. What are the three most important life events that have personally shaped you?
- Living in the slums & literally sleeping on the streets: After I graduated from high school I went to Tamil Nadu, India to do an intercultural learning experience for one year to live and serve in an Ashram & tribal school for the lowest caste & tribal children. Back then I used eight weeks during my “vacation” to actually visit the places where my children used to live. Some lived in slums and some literally slept on the streets (because the streets would save the heat of the sun while it would get cold during the nights). I did everything they did, knowing that for me it was just a choice for a couple of weeks, while for them it was their life. That is probably something that will keep me grounded forever. No matter how fancy the hotel rooms get, I know I can sleep on the streets, and there are millions of people out there who still do every night.
- Working for the United Nations: In between my Bachelors and my Masters I had the great honor to work for the United Nations. While there is some valid critique about its work, once you really dive in you see how unbelievably amazing it is, that 194 countries with the most contrary positions on literally everything actually come together to achieve progress for all of humanity. It was a deeply humbling experience being able to contribute and working alongside people from every corner of the planet. Once you do that you understand quickly that nations states and borders are a men-made concept that won’t last forever, because we all belong to the same human family.
- Every single day: I’m generally a very open-minded, positive person who likes to give every single day the chance to amaze me with the gift called life. I’m not saying every day will be great, but life has so much to offer, so we can be shaped by it, if we’re open to it. Sometimes when we are too focused on opening that closed door in front of us, we forget to look around and see all these open windows full of opportunities which we could take instead.
2. How did the CEMS Network contribute to your professional achievements?
When entering the global CEMS network we made a choice. We made a choice to become global citizens. However locally-rooted we are cheering for our national football teams, with every single semester we gain the friendship of fellow students from 30+ universities and even more nationalities.
While prior to CEMS we might have overlooked international incidents, today we cannot. They affect us. Always. Because we have friends in all of these countries. Because we all belong to one family. We are one. Thus, I would not limit our CEMSies’ contribution to some small professional achievements, but rather the very definition of how we lead our lives.
3. What advice would you give current CEMS students?
#FailureSuccessRate: Every single person has a #FailureSuccessRate, which means for X amount of failures, there will be a rewarding success. The more setbacks you have, the higher the success that waits for you! Don’t be blinded by everyone else’s success stories. They all go through the same, they might just not have the courage to share their vulnerabilities.