MTV World General Manager and Senior Vice President Nusrat Durrani delivered the keynote address at this year’s Asia Society Diversity Leadership Forum in New York City on Monday. Durrani, an Indian immigrant, has played an integral role in the development of MTV World, which delivers programing to youths in over 50 countries.
In his address, which culminated in a brief Q&A session with Michael Chen of Chen & Associations, Durrani narrated the hardships he encountered after venturing beyond the parochial definitions of success that had been established for him by his family and his community in India.
“I was an outsider in India because my dreams exceeded the city limits of my hometown,” said Durrani. “The ambitions transcended the country I was born in, and my ideas of a global community ... sounded silly to most people.”
After arriving in America, Durrani was shocked by the cultural isolation of New York: few Americans had any experience with overseas pop culture. At MTV, Durrani had aspirations of exporting Asian and global culture to America. “Cross-pollinating pop culture is not only an untapped business opportunity,” he said, “but also a beautiful philosophy for a company that connects the youth of the world, because they are the future.”
Asia Society’s Diversity Leadership Forum is an annual conference for businesses and corporations to spark a productive conversation about diversity and inclusion for Asian Americans in the workplace. This year’s forum — which took place at the Time Warner Center in New York City — focused on underlining the link between increasing shareholder value and enhancing the Asian American talent pool. Speakers at 2014 forum were drawn from an eclectic array of organizations, including Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, and General Electric.
Video: Nusrat Durrani's full remarks at Asia Society Diversity Leadership Forum (22 min., 48 sec.)