Kapoor enables meaningful career opportunities for underprivileged youth in India in her role as Lead for Economic Opportunities for Youth at the UNICEF (YuWaah) India Country Office.
Headshot of  Shruti Kapoor
Shruti Kapoor

“Although it has since improved, security and governance in Bihar, the Indian state where I was born, was at its worst when I was growing up,” said Shruti Kapoor, AM’19 and Lead for Economic Opportunities for Youth at the UNICEF India Country Office. “At the time, Bihar was one of the most backward states in terms of the socio-economic indicators in the country. Crime was prevalent, so my environment was very protective. There were few learning opportunities outside of what I had in school.”

This experience led Kapoor to her current career path and inspired her to seize opportunities when they presented themselves. “Leaving my hometown and attending the University of Delhi as an undergraduate was a revelation. I explored everything the university and New Delhi had to offer. However, I never forget where I came from.”

Now at UNICEF, Kapoor convenes government agencies, private partners, NGOs, and Indian youth to collectively co-create solutions and enable jobs, apprenticeship, and entrepreneurship opportunities for young people of India.

“Unemployment is a key challenge for India. Many people left larger cities for their smaller hometowns because they lost jobs during Covid—and not all have been able to return. As a result of this huge reverse migration and lack of access to diverse opportunities, I focus on solutions for India’s often underprivileged and marginalized populations.”

Kapoor’s work with UNICEF also refines the path she charted prior to Harris. After earning her BSc in zoology from the University of Delhi, she earned an MBA in rural management from the Institute of Rural Management Anand, followed by internships and jobs in NGOs and government programs. Kapoor then started working for McKinsey Social Initiative, now known as Generation India Foundation. “McKinsey was just launching its workforce development program in India—I was one of the first team members. I helped set up an education-to-employment program in one city and eventually led program management and operations across the entire country.”

While at McKinsey, Kapoor began considering further education opportunities.

“McKinsey delivered a quality program, but I wanted to take the solution to millions of people. I had all the key soft skills—program operations, management, business development—but I was not even close to the level of proficiency I needed in data analysis. That was the missing piece I needed to both undertake research in assessing large-scale programs and analyzing how those large-scale programs eventually shape policies in a country where one-size-fits-all solutions have historically failed.”

The Harris MA in Public Policy, Kapoor said, was a natural choice. “My MBA college connected me to the University of Chicago Center in Delhi, and once I connected with the Center, I saw that Harris Public Policy offered exactly what I needed.”

At Harris, Kapoor continuously seized academic opportunities. “I took one or two noncredit class every quarter, audited a class on Order and Violence, took up Spanish, and took a course on Social Enterprise at the Booth School of Business.” Kapoor also joined Harris Student Government, Women in Public Policy, the International Development Policy Association, and the Diversity and Inclusion Programming Board.

After graduation, Kapoor interned at the United Nations in New York, supporting UN Sustainable Development Goals. She then moved to Dubai as a sustainability consultant with Emirates NBD, the largest national bank in Dubai, piloting their environmental sustainability project. Finally, she moved back to New Delhi and began her current role at UNICEF.

“The skills I gained at Harris—especially looking at data critically—have been invaluable in my role at UNICEF. I have a completely different lens to use when solving problems."