Janaka Pushpanathan currently leads British Council’s work in South India, and she has over 20 years of experience in the Arts, Education and Enterprise sectors. Prior to this, she has co-founded education, learning and development, and Ed tech start-ups, which have won the Red Herring Top 100 and the NASSCOM Top 50 awards in the innovation category. Janaka has been a part of British Council’s think tank on Intercultural Dialogue and was also the Regional Head of the United States India Education Foundation (USIEF) for South India.
As the Director of British Council in South India, Janaka leads the Council’s work, in the five southern states: this includes partnerships with schools and higher education institutions, leading on government to government bilateral relations between UK and India, managing advocacy initiatives for English language teaching and training; working with partners to strengthen the creative economy for arts, crafts, festivals and major programmes in South India and promoting educational and cultural exchange between UK and India through the British Council teaching centre, examinations services and library and information services.
Janaka has a Master of Science degree in Physics and Applied Mathematics from Madras Christian College, a hundred- and eighty-five-year-old institution that traces its history to Scottish connections in the Madras Presidency (now called Chennai). An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Bangalore and Project Zero at Harvard University, Janaka is among the top 100 most influential in building UK-India relations and she’s part of the India Inc. 2019 list, which is the first ever all women’s power list to celebrate the immense contribution of women from all walks of life driving a glorious future relationship between UK and India.
Janaka is passionate about equality, girls’ education and the environment and is on the advisory board of women led non-profits and early to mid-stage education start-ups, in addition to being on the Board of Trustees of the IIM Bangalore Alumni Association. Janaka also sits on the 14-member high level advisory committee of the Tamil Nadu government's skill and education sectors which has been set up to enhance employability skills & livelihood opportunities for the millions of young people of the State.
In her free time, Janaka is re-learning Indian classical music and is working towards her goal to sight 50 tigers in the wild, in India, by 2030.