Skip to Content
Alumni profile

Akhtar Badshah, SM ’83, PhD ’93

Microsoft’s former philanthropy head now leads social impact accelerator.
Courtesy of Akhtar Badshah, Sm ’83, PhD ’93

“I felt like I’d won the educational lottery when I was accepted to MIT,” says Akhtar Badshah, now an entrepreneur, author, and artist. “I studied architecture but discovered at MIT how all other factors impact formsuch as social, religious, and community. It gave me confidence to become a change maker.”

Badshah, an expert on international development, applied this passion to leading Microsoft’s global philanthropic efforts for a decade and ran the company’s global community investment and employee programs, including monetary grants, software and curriculum donations, and employee giving. He oversaw investments of $5 billion to nonprofits across the world through company-sponsored giving and volunteer campaigns.

The goal, he says, was to encourage employees to give their time as well as their dollars. “When I left Microsoft in 2014, [employee donations] had crossed the $110 million mark and were supporting thousands of nonprofit organizations around the world,” he says. During Badshah’s tenure, employees also donated two million volunteer hours.

“We found that people want to give, and that these employees were much more valuable, productive, happier, and engaged,” he says.

Now founder of Catalytic Innovators Group, a consulting and training firm, he builds partnerships across the world with corporations, foundations, nonprofits, universities, and international development agencies to turn good ideas into effective solutions to global problems related to poverty.

Badshah is chair of Global Washington, a Washington State organization that supports international development to create a more equitable world. He also teaches social enterprise and global business at the University of Washington, where he founded Accelerating Social Transformation, a certificate course for midcareer professionals. In addition, he wrote the book Our Urban Future: New Paradigms for Equity and Sustainability and coauthored Technology at the Margins—How IT Meets the Needs of the Emerging Market.

“At MIT, I learned that if you have the will and the intelligence, you can make almost anything happen,” he says. “It was an amazing amount of empowerment.”

Badshah lives in Seattle with his wife, Media Lab alumna Alka Gupta Badshah, SM ’87. They have three sonsAnish, Aseem, and Akash, who earned an MIT degree in 2014.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.