Dr. Hriday Ch. Sarma (Team-Coordinator)

Dr. Sarma is a sustainable development professional with expertise on clean energy transition, renewable energies and climate risk mitigation. Currently he works as Assistant Professor at Mongolia International University. He has worked on official positions at a few prominent government supported institutions, like as a Visiting Fellow with and Institute for National Security Studies (Israel) and Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (MP-IDSA) and as a Visiting Consultant at Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communication (an economic think tank that works with support from the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan).. He has worked both full time and part time with few other organizations and private companies, like as Deputy Director at Relex Development (USA), Researcher with National Maritime Foundation (India). He is affiliated as a Fellow with South Asia Democratic Forum (a Brussels based think tank) and Strategic Advisor to Balkan Economic Forum (a non-profit based in North Macedonia). He has a PhD in Energy Studies from Academy of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University. He has a MPhil and M.A. in International Relations and has done few a few advanced diploma courses in international law and sustainability.  

Sandal Kakkar (Coordinator)

Mr. Kakkar works as a Business Expansion official with IKEA, Netherlands where he is a part of the core team that strategizes the company’s sustainable business expansion in countries worldwide. He is a management graduate (MBA) from Indian institute of Management, Indore. He has a professional experience of more than 10 years working with various business verticals as a consultant. He has worked with clients across oil and gas, education, healthcare, industrial goods, food and beverage, automotive etc. He has been a part of few reputed companies with their business expansion strategies in the Caucuses, Middle East, North Africa and South East Asia, like Ipsos Strategy3, YouGov MENA and Frost and Sullivan. Mr. Kakkar has also various other companies to develop their strategies and objectives to operate and align their vision and mission to succeed in the above mentioned regions.

Levan Khutsishvili  (Coordinator)

Mr. Khutsishvili  works as a Project Officer at Save the Children, Georgia. He is the Director of GregArt, a non-profit organization in Geoargia that works towards empowering youths using non-formal education methods.  He has been connected with few prominent education institutions in Georgia, like a Guest Lecturer in Political Science faculty at Tbilisi State University where he is leading a course on City Policy and an Assistant Researcher in Georgian Institute of Political Science (GIPA) where he worked on Smart and Green City concepts. He is also international trainer of THK and Mitost, and working of topics like non-formal education, anti-bias, peace building, and diversity.  Currently, Mr. Khutsishvili is enrolled as a PhD candidate in Tbilisi State University where his research topic is on participatory urban development and post materialistic values.

Reika Saito Kohmori (Legal Consultant)

Ms. Kohmori is a Japan-based lawyer with an extensive experience in a broad range of corporate and commercial transactions. After obtaining Master degree in Civil Law from Kyoto University Graduate School of Law (Japan) and completing her judicial apprenticeship, she has been assisting clients from diverse regions of the world for inbound/outbound investments, international trades and dispute resolutions. Handling difficult negotiations and solving convoluted disputes are her utmost forte, and she channels her rich experiences and strategic insights in dispute resolutions into prudent but creative project building. After acquiring LL.M. in Intellectual Property Law from Tel Aviv University School of Law (Israel), she moved to Egypt and has been engaged in cross-border projects between countries in Middle East and Japan. From September 2017, she is affiliated to Cast Law firm in Tokyo, which has the richest experiences in Asia practice among the major top-notch law firms in Japan.

Varun Sehgal

Mr Shegal has over 10 years of work exposure in a variety of functions including Brand Management, Digital Marketing , Business Development , Training and Development , Recruitments and Manpower Planning , Capital Markets and Financial Management. He currently serves as a Director at Prayag Institute of Hotel Management & Catering Technology where he takes care of the essential aspects of Marketing and Promotions for the institute. He is BBA Finance graduate and has done his MBA in Marketing from the prestigious IMT Ghaziabad. He did a Summer School from The London School of Economics & Political Science. Mr Sehgal has completed chartered financial analyst (CFA) level 1 certification and has undertaken a special course on Social Media Marketing from IIM Ahemdabad. Varun holds a Six Sigma Greenbelt from Exemplar Global (formerly RABQSA) Australia and is proficient in Commodity and Stock Trading. Mr Shegal closely works on turnkey Indian government projects, from initial planning till eventual rollouts as a strategic consultant besides his association in Digital Marketing domain. Prior to this, he has worked with leading advertising giants (like Ogilvy & Mather and Benetton Group), education based brands (Planet EDU and Social Siksha) and has profound international exposure with multiple small term consultation projects under his belt. He is a co-founder of Agastya that operates in the field of Interior Design and is in advisory board for El Zero Store, an e-commerce platform dedicated to the sales and development of Khadi products.

Dr. Namig Shalbuzov

Dr. Shalbuzov is an expert of agricultural economics, food security and rural development with work experience of more than 15 years. He is presently working as the Deputy Director at Aqrar Tədqiqatlar Mərkəzi – Agro Research Center, which is a premier President of Azerbaijan supported institution. He begun his career as a researcher at the Research Institute of Agricultural Economics and raised to the position of the deputy director of the institute. Currently, he works as a project control and assessment manager at Center for Analysis of Economic Reforms and Communication of Azerbaijan Republic. He got his PhD diploma of economics from Research Institute of Agricultural Economics, and has also master’s diploma of food security and agricultural development from Kyungpook National University of Republic of Korea. From 2007 he is engaged in international projects funded by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU) etc. as an expert or consultant.

Mikhail Chernov

Mr. Chernov is an internationally well-known Jewish advocate and a political scientist from Russia. Mr. Chernov is a founding member of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg Peace Initiative that shares the coveted peace awards to peacemakers from around the world. Currently he is also heading a major project “Middle East — North Caucasus: Cultural Policy in Strengthening the Interethnicand Interreligious Peace” and is the CEO of Foundation for Support and Development of Jewish Culture, Traditions, Education and Science. Prior to this, Mr Chernov had an illustrious career as a reporter, both within Russia and in different countries worldwide. He worked as a senior journalist for few prominent Russia media outlets, namely Lenta.ru, First Anti-Corruption Media and RosBiznesConsulting. He is officially connected to the International Scientific Center of North Ossetian State University. He is being often interviewed by Russian media outlets and at times by international media. Mr Chernov continues to write opinion and research based articles for various Russian think tanks and online media.

Keith Hilden

Mr. Hilden is an experienced and competent frontier market investment specialist. He has worked with the Institutional Research division of Saigon Securities, Vietnam’s top brokerage, for the last 5 years. He was also the Deputy Director of Strategic Planning for My Thuy International Port, a nascent greenfield seaport development project in Central Vietnam, blending cryptocurrency with traditional investment means to arrange funding for the seaport. Previously, Keith had headed up the Cyber Security research desk leading various projects inside the organization, and was a researcher for the Asia Pacific desk for geopolitical and business consultancy Wikistrat. He has through his research & analytical work at these organizations advised countless organizations in the business and the political space, including to various Fortune 500 companies & the US government, among others. Mr. Hilden has been working towards building investment ties between nations in the frontier and emerging markets space, with a focus on Southeast Asia, for nearly a decade. In addition to his native language, he also speaks Vietnamese and Chinese.

Dr. Jason E. Strakes

Dr. Strakes is the founder of Developing Eurasia Initiative (DEI) academic forum and research network. He is also a co-Founder of the Center for Foreign Policy and Security Studies (CFPSS) , Romania. He completed M.A. in International Studies and PhD in Political Science (Claremont Graduate University), serves as associate editor for the Journal of Global South Studies, vice chair of the International Studies Association Global South Caucus, founder of the Developing Eurasia Initiative. He has previously served as lecturer in the Politics and Security Programme at OSCE Academy in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic, and Visiting Scholar and lecturer at the International School for Caucasus Studies (ISCS) at Ilia State University, Tbilisi, Georgia. He has held research fellowships at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy (ADA) School of International Affairs, Strategic Research Center under the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SAM), Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies (UCRS) at Uppsala University, Sweden, and was a visiting scholar at the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian and East European Studies at Columbia University. He serves as associate editor for Eurasia for the Journal Of Global South Studies published by University of Florida Press. Dr. Strakes is a voting member of the International Studies Association (ISA) Committee on the Status of Engagement with the Global South for 2018-2021 and served as the vice chair of the executive committee of the Global South Caucus for International Studies (GSCIS) from 2019-2021.

Maria Rusu

Ms. Rusu is an international relations expert with a longstanding professional work experience. She comes from Romania, and holds a B.A. in Communication and Public Relations from the Hungarian University in Transilvania. Her thesis was researching how the media interpreted and presented the 2008 NATO Summit and it was proposed for publication. She has a Master’s Degree in Transatlantic Studies obtained from the University of Babes Bolyai, Cluj Napoca, Romania. Her master’s thesis was written about the Common Foreign and Security Policy and its relation to European norms and values. She worked as a Marketing Referent at the Hungarian Television of Transilvania for a year and a half and as a junior researcher at The Hudson Institute. At present, she is a Guest Contributor for the Borgen Projects and an op-ed writer and email marketer for The Post Man 24. Her areas of research interest include Black Sea security, Transatlantic Relations, Russia and Asia, and Foreign Policy and Diplomacy.