Nazir Ahmad is an experienced speaker, facilitator, and thought provocateur with more than two decades of strategy experience across the philanthropic, nonprofit and corporate sectors. Nazir is founder and president of GivingWorks, Inc. – a strategy and management consulting firm serving public-benefit institutions. Blending an inquisitive mind, strategic acumen, analytical rigor, and skillful facilitation, Nazir helps mission-driven organizations enhance their social impact. He has provided strategic counsel to premier public service institutions such as the World Bank, UNICEF, Open Society Foundations and AARP.
An insightful observer and creative thinker, Nazir speaks to business, philanthropic and nonprofit audiences on achieving transformative social change through high-impact investments and program strategies and purposeful leadership. Areas of expertise include social innovation and entrepreneurship, strategic giving, leadership development, and adaptive strategies.
Nazir blends strong private sector roots with a passion for social change and rich background advising, founding, and serving on boards of public service organizations. He is versed in a range of contemporary social challenges, having advised diverse clients with missions spanning international development, aging, human rights, and beyond. Nazir draws on this breadth of experience to extract lessons from multiple domains and disciplines to offer unique perspectives on approaches that cut across disciplines and issue areas (e.g. public-private partnerships, social innovation). His talks are audience relevant, with clear implications and practical lessons.
Nazir has facilitated and moderated numerous large gatherings as well as board and management retreats. He is particularly adept in challenging participants’ assumptions and posing provocative questions, distilling and advancing collective insights, and skillfully guiding sessions to keep audiences engaged and discussions on track.
Prior to launching GivingWorks Inc., he was a senior partner and practice leader for innovation and strategic marketing at Strategic Decisions Group, advising Fortune 100 senior executives on issues of leadership, business innovation, strategic marketing, business alliances, and beyond. At SDG, he led regular hands-on workshops on strategy and marketing for CEOs and Chief Marketing Officers of global enterprises from diverse industries.
Industry Expertise (3)
Areas of Expertise (3)
Stanford University: MA, Economics 1984
Amherst College: BA magna cum laude 1982
Stanford University: MBA, Corporate strategy; non-profit and public management 1989
Event Appearances (5)
Alumni Stories of Personal Impact (Speaker)
40th Anniversary Celebrations of Stanford Business School’s Public Management Program Stanford University, Graduate School of Business (Stanford, CA)
Global Perspective & Remembering that No Circle is Ever Complete Unto Itself (Keynote Address & Moderator)
Giving Circles Network, Second Annual Giving Circles Conference National Press Club (Washington, DC)
Background, Top Issues & Trends in Philanthropy Affecting Giving Circles
Giving Circles Network, First Giving Circles Networking Event Washington, DC Metro Area
Global Scenarios and the Future of Children (Co-presenter & Facilitator)
Scenario Workshop with UNICEF global and regional leaders and external participants UNICEF (New York)
Panel: Applying Private Sector Tools for Social Enterprise (Panelist)
2005 Harvard Social Enterprise Conference Harvard University, Harvard Business School/Kennedy School of Government (Cambridge, MA)
Sample Talks (5)
Creating Change in a Changing World
Organizations and the spaces they occupy evolve – new competencies develop, beneficiary needs shift, funds become more or less available, and new players emerge. Strategic organizations strive to understand their dynamic environments and proactively respond to shifts. This talk explores “adaptive strategies” as an approach to leading change. Real world examples and contextual factors that might trigger an organization to reassess how it does business and achieves impact will be shared.
Fostering Innovation: When Good Ideas Are Not Enough
Good ideas are the building blocks of innovation – but they are not enough. Innovators can quickly find new ideas stifled by a lack of resources or recognition, time constraints, rigid systems, or low institutional risk tolerance. Reflecting lessons from diverse corporate and social sector organizations, Ahmad tackles head on the importance of and key ingredients to creating an innovation-friendly environment. Particular emphasis is given to innovation within large or complex organizations.
Making Social Good, Good for Business
Companies increasingly aspire to be sustainable, with a healthy “triple bottom line.” Staff, too, seek a larger purpose – a trend likely to continue with Gen Y. But how can companies increase profits while delivering real, sustainable social benefit? This talk challenges audiences to think beyond donations and volunteers to integrating innovative and responsible practices into their core business. Models and lessons from the corporate sector will be explored and recommendations offered.
Philanthropic Giving: Investing Strategically
The practice of philanthropy is increasingly complex, as the donor field expands and new giving models emerge. At the same time, institutional philanthropies are under increased pressure from boards and society at large to demonstrate impact. This talk explores how the philanthropy landscape is changing, and offers practical insights into how donors can invest more strategically and purposefully to maximize their impact, including the use of innovative tools and partnership models.
The New Realities of International Giving
The face and practice of international giving has changed dramatically. Online platforms are fueling “grassroots” giving to distant places, while philanthropy is becoming an increasingly strategic discipline. Organizations like the World Bank no longer dominate the donor landscape, as new players and new models of giving continue to emerge. Nazir will explore these and other trends in the “whos” and “hows” of giving worldwide, and the profound implications for both givers and recipients.
- Workshop Leader