UA Little Rock alum Rupa Dash empowering women globally
July 1-7, 2019
By Angelita Faller
A dozen years ago, Rupa Dash got her start in the fast-growing Indian film industry of Bollywood. At the time, she didn’t see a lot of women in leadership roles. That’s something Dash quickly set out to change.
On top of being a successful entrepreneur, Dash, a 2018 alumna of UA Little Rock, has also become an advocate for women in entertainment and business.
She co-founded and is CEO of World Woman Foundation. This foundation creates a platform to put a spotlight on young women in business, entertainment, social entrepreneurship, and technology. Established in 2015, the foundation seeks to empower women by facilitating mentoring programs for 1 million women and girls worldwide by 2030.
One of her impressive accomplishments has been launching the first artificial intelligence mentorship platform for women. The Arkansas-based pilot project seeks to empower women by providing mentorship and networking opportunities for women across the globe. Dash envisions a vast network of successful women who mentor young professionals and volunteer their time and skills to help women around the globe become successful.
“We want to create a new kind of social currency. Sharing is the new giving,” Dash said. “If we can create that new culture, we will be extremely successful. We want to look at talent in a new way. There are a lot of conversations about how we can design a global economy that is more inclusive. We ask people to donate their time and skills. They can share knowledge, expertise, and work with each other and co-create a meaningful business venture.”
In 2017, Dash launched the World Woman Summit in partnership with UN Women in Arkansas. The Little Rock-based conference attracted global leaders from 10 countries and has continued to grow over the past two years. After graduating with her MBA from UA Little Rock last year, Dash and her husband plan to expand the World Woman Foundation initiatives in Bentonville.
“As we were doing the World Woman Summit, we learned how women are building businesses in Arkansas and what services they need,” Dash said. “We are looking at how the initiative can be taken to the next level. We launched a global campaign around mentoring women. Currently, we are launching our own social enterprise for World Woman Summit. We want Springdale to become the next place of innovation where we can create the next generation of workforce that can seamlessly adapt to the news skills that are needed for any industry.”
On the film side, Dash serves on the board of the World Cinema Society and is a founding board member of the Arkansas Cinema Society. Since its launch in 2015, Woman World Foundation has raised more than $500,000 for its World Woman Fund, which supports independent female filmmakers creating films with social impact. The foundation has also partnered with international film festivals to promote gender harmony in films.
Dash received her bachelor’s degree in India and an entrepreneurship program certification from the University of California-Los Angeles Anderson School of Management. She moved to Arkansas from Los Angeles with her husband when he accepted a position at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.
She started her MBA program at UA Little Rock in 2016 and was selected to participate in that year’s TEDx Markham St event. Since then, she has given many high-profile talks involving empowering women, including the Harvard Business School Women’s Conference, Women Who Matter, Russian Women’s Federation, and the Billion Dollar Women Impact Forum.
She credits her speaking success to her professors in the Department of Applied Communication. When Dash realized she needed to become the public face for her company, she spent thousands of dollars on speech classes in Los Angeles. However, she said none of them taught her what she learned at UA Little Rock. She sought out Dr. April Chatham-Carpenter, chair of the Department of Applied Communication, on her second day in Little Rock, and the rest is history.
“I really enjoyed working with Dr. April Chatham-Carpenter and Dr. Kristen McIntyre,” Dash said. “I truly believe the art of communication is the language of the future. You need to be able to communicate well to be successful, and I got that skill by working with these professors. I have to give a lot of credit to the Applied Communication Department for being a part of everything I do.”
When Chatham-Carpenter worked with Dash, she was impressed with her hard work, determination, and vision for the future.
“It has been my honor to get to work with Rupa,” Chatham-Carpenter said. “I have learned so much from her. She communicates equally well with people across all walks of life, building respect and relationships, while showing a willingness to collaborate in accomplishing goals. Rupa is a humble woman with vision, with network contacts across the world, and is not afraid to take a risk to dream and put into place initiatives to make a difference. She has proven this in her work with the World Woman Foundation, as a film-maker, entrepreneur, speaker, and writer.”
She identifies the Communication Skill Center as a game-changing resource that helping her improve her communication skills.
“My favorite time at UA Little Rock was spent working with the Communication Skill Center,” she said. “I would go to practice my speeches sometimes for hours. They were the kindest group of individuals who would give me feedback and listen to the same speech 10 or 12 times a day. The Communications Skill Center is at the heart of everything UA Little Rock is trying to do. No matter what you learn, it’s how you communicate that really differentiates you as a leader.”
Source: UA Little Rock Communications