V O W
NIKHIL 'RA' SHARMA
In 8th grade, when asked by his teacher to write an essay on what his dream was to be when he grew up, Nikhil Ra went home and chose to “think different” . He arrived in class the next morning with a hand-painted “Passport to the World”, gave it to his teacher and said, “I dream one day of being a Citizen of the World”. This vision that he had, as a young man, of being an artiste and of belonging to a world that sees no race, no color, no boundaries, but just one humanity is what he has been working towards all his life. Now, with his new company, Visions of the World (VOW) , Nikhil is using his two decades of experience and his vast network in the creative industries - film, music, fashion, art - to ideate and build new projects that are good for the future of the planet and for us, its people, using the incredible artistic talents of his many friends and colleagues over the years.
Nikhil Ra was raised in New Delhi, India, the son of a respected and successful business executive who helped set-up General Electric’s operations in India in the 1980s at a time when few multinationals were even thinking of stepping foot in India - a country sought after by foreign business today. Also, during this period, his parents were famously known for throwing some of the most memorable gatherings at their home which were attended by an array of distinguished Indian and foreign diplomats, politicians, businessmen and artists - some of whom are very accomplished people in India and the world today (KP Singh, Rohit Bal, Jack Welch, various Ambassadors, Political and Business leaders to name a few).
Nikhil always says that he was fortunate to be educated by his brilliant family first and then by his teachers at school. He proudly attended St. Columba’s School, New Delhi, a renowned private school which has produced some very successful Indian expatriates in the USA today - Deepak Chopra, Kunal Nayyar, Shah Rukh Khan to name a few.
Upon completing his schooling in India, Nikhil attended the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania - at the time the number one undergraduate Business school in the United States. After college, he joined a boutique creative marketing, promotions and events agency called Ted, Inc. Nikhil helped grow Ted, Inc. at a rapid pace into being one of the leading agencies in its genre and ending up with serving as its VP of Fashion & Entertainment while also running its operations as COO at a very young age. During his tenure at Ted, Inc. he produced events (approximately 500) and created promotional campaigns for a milieu of clients such as Louis Vuitton, Dior Parfums, Chanel Beauté, Vanity Fair (and Condé Nast), Estée Lauder, Carolina Herrera, New York Artwalk, to name a handful. He also co-created a venture built around Awards shows and Fashion Weeks called “The Suite” which is considered to be the birthplace of what we now know as the Celebrity Gifting Suites or Swag events. While working on all of these projects, he was fortunate to encounter and work closely with some prolific artists such as David Bowie and Iman, Keith Richards, Prince, Louise Bourgeois, Christian Louboutin, Diane von Furstenberg among many others. One of the highlights of Nikhil’s tenure at Ted, Inc. was his co-producing the Millennium Fashion Show in Time Square with 100 international designers to celebrate New York City’s fashion industry at the dawn of the new Millennium.
After a decade of dedicating his life to the agency, Nikhil decided to start his life as an independent entrepreneur. At first he chose to dive into what he was most familiar with since he was a child (spending years with his sister, a fashion designer, on a clothing factory floor) and creating his own fashion brands. He initially created an art-fashion project with his friend India Waters (daughter of Pink Flyd's Roger Waters ) which was a series of one-of-a-kind handmade clothing and accessories made in India. On the heels of this project, he joined another artist friend Jordan Betten who had a very acclaimed couture/custom brand called Lost Art that made creations for high end clientele for stage performances and red carpet appearances. Clients included Lenny Kravitz, Nicole Kidman, Britney Spears, Axel Rose and more. Nikhil worked for 6 years as Jordan’s business partner with a focus on business development. In the process he met Sean Parker (Napster, Facebook, Spotify) who became an investor and advisor to the company. Nikhil spent the next few years with Sean and Jordan working and living between San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York fundraising, building new operations and developing a network of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Hollywood celebrities/influencers, and New York designers/artists until his departure from Lost Art in 2011.
Sean and Nikhil’s Coachella weekend event at a mansion in Palm Springs in 2011 is still considered to be one of the most memorable and unparalleled events in Coachella history.
Nikhil has since worn many creative hats - being a film producer, a creative consultant for brands, building new artist relationships, celebrity and influencer seeding, doing various art projects, managing and assisting musical and other talents, and of-course still producing some high profile events. His clients and partners during this time have been Ellen von Unwerth, Mick Rock, Gentle Monster, Muse Films (Virgin Suicides, Buffalo 66, American Psycho, Spring Breakers), Lizzy Jagger (assisting her with the fight for ERA), Charlotte Taschen (Wilde Readers Society), Lorraine and Duke Nicholson, Floria Sigismondi, Noomi Rapace, MarilynManson, Whitney Sudler-Smith (Bravo, Southern Charm), Caroline Vreeland, Theophilus London, Daphne Guinness, Viktoria Modesta and more. Nikhil is excited about Visions of the World and what he believes is the culmination and fruition of his two decades of blood, sweat and artistic tears - a vision for the future - “connecting you to the people we love.” VOW is based out of Hollywood, Los Angeles, and is setting up strategic alliances globally with a focus on Asia (South Korea and India being the main one) and launching a series of ‘creative projects with a purpose’.
Since the very start of the pandemic, VOW decided to adapt and change its focus and use its high level, long-standing and respected business relationships both in USA/Europe and Asia to facilitate PPE transactions and help produce and deliver medical equipment to the workers on the frontline.
Mr. Sunand (“Sonny”) Sharma is Adviser and Executive Director, HFCL Group since 2016. He was earlier President, Alstom International, India & South Asia and Chairman, Alstom India Ltd. from 2006 till 2014, and later Adviser, Alstom International till 2015.
In 2016, the President of France appointed Sunand Sharma, Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur (Knight of the Legion of Honour), the highest French civilian distinction, in recognition for his services to French industry and Indo-French trade relations.
Alstom made major investments in India and South Asia, whilst strengthening its position in Thermal Power, Renewable Power, Transport, and Grid. Alstom India & South Asia Area during his tenure and became one of the fastest growing in the global company, representing about 8% of the company’s orders and employee base, at € 1.2 billion and 8,500 respectively, up from € 250 million and 2,000 in 2006. It is significant that Alstom India & South Asia became the second largest area for Alstom employment, following France. Amongst the largest contracts awarded to Alstom worldwide, were during this period. The work done between 2006 and 2015 resulted in the award to Alstom Transport of the 800, 12,000 HP, Electric Locomotives by the Indian Railways, valued at over € 3.5 billion.
Sunand has been Honorary President of the Indo-French Chamber of Commerce & Industry (IFCCI) and been a Member of the National Executive Committee of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI), and National Council Member of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). He Chaired various committees in each. He has dealt with the leadership of the Government of India and the States of India as well as those of the South Asia Region during his career.
Prior to 2006, he led the Business Development effort of GE in India in the ‘80s and ‘90s working with teams that established GE’s leadership in India in Aircraft Engines, Gas Turbines and Medical Systems. From 1993 to 2006 he provided strategic advice to Nokia Telecommunications Oy of Finland, Owens Corning Fiberglas Inc. of USA, Energy Developments Limited of Australia, Vialle Alternative Fuel Systems and the Royal Cebeco Group of the Netherlands, GE Wind Energy of USA and Acciona Energia of Spain.
He is a regularly invited speaker at national and international conferences, and serves on the Boards of various companies.