Abhilash Puljal is a trained social scientist, a trade strategy and private sector development specialist and a certified management consultant (CMC) with an entrepreneurial spirit. He has over eighteen years of experience advising public and private sectors, multilaterals and industry associations in conceptualising and implementing sustainable ventures, developing business strategies, interpreting and advising on policy and regulatory matters across agriculture, renewable energy, healthcare and education verticals. He is passionate about developmental issues affecting the Global South and is working actively on the South-South development concept by connecting sustainable technologies and building efficient capacities for Small Medium Enterprise (SME) businesses of middle and low-income economies of Africa and Asia.
He is a committed self-starter with strong analytical skills known to network with an ability to maintain long and trusting relationships. Abhilash also is an effective verbal and written communicator with an ability to articulate information in a structured and insightful manner. He has a proven ability to engage decision-makers and empower teams to lead analysis and recommendations. Also, he has a deep understanding and sensitivity towards political and cultural dimensions of environments especially in complex locations and situations. Moreover, he enjoys building and leading high performing teams to deliver innovative and result oriented solutions to achieve realistic goals. Furthermore, he is also known among his peers to be experienced in mentoring and coaching junior staff in their professional development and career progression.
Abhilash is currently advising the European Union Delegation in New Delhi on the India-EU Trilateral Cooperation Strategy; secondly, his proprietary firm has been contracted by the Government of Zambia, funded by the African Development bank, to advise on the Lobito Corridor Trade Facilitation Project; thirdly, he is advising the government of the Republic of Gabon on exports to India and assisting them in the understanding of bilateral cooperation strategies with (Business and Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA), Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement (DTAA) and Social Security Agreement (SSA)) India. Furthermore, he is also, individually and through his firm is advising private enterprises on their cross-border investment strategies especially into countries in Sub Saharan Africa, Central Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia.
Until recently, he advised the Government of Sri Lanka, through the International Trade Centre (ITC), Geneva, on a European Union funded programme to design and draft the National Export Strategy for Sri Lanka. He led the study for two sectors and one trade support function. He also advised the Government of Bihar on a DFID funded project - GROW Bihar. As a part of GROW-Bihar, he designed and drafted various policies for the Department of Industries such as the Bihar Khadi Policy, BIADA (Amendment) Act, besides providing other transaction advisory services for implementation of the Single Window Investment System. Moreover, he also advised in the implementation of the SITA project for the ITC, Geneva in Rwanda and Ethiopia, where he redrafted the Pulses Sector Value Chain Strategy for the Government of Ethiopia.
Earlier, he founded Avignam Advisors, a boutique private sector advisory that researches, conceptualises and implements sustainable projects for clients in Asia, Africa and India. He has conceptualised initiatives from the “ground-up” with “out-of-the-box” ideas and assessing the potential of such ideas using strategic and evidence-based methods. Private sector opportunities are accessed and ideated not in isolation, but after conducting a macro level study of the value chain of a certain sector and depending on the outcomes, business potential is assessed, and businesses are derived from such studies.
Prior to Avignam he served as an Alternate Director on the board of Bharat Renewable Energy Limited, Lucknow, India; Senior Consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers Pvt. Ltd., New Delhi, India in the Tax and Regulatory Practice working on various projects especially on policy and regulatory matters. He was earlier employed as Asst. Vice-President at SKIL Infrastructure Limited, Mumbai, India; University of Sydney as a Research Assistant in Sydney, Australia and Sathguru Management Consultants Pvt Ltd as Associate Consultant in Hyderabad, India. He also previously volunteered as a Consultant at the Overseas Development Institute in London, UK and as a Lecturer at the Australian Aid for Cambodia Fund in Prey Veng Province, Cambodia.
As a volunteer, he supports the Executive Committee of the London School of Economics Alumni Association (LSEAA), London, UK as a Special Projects Member. He is the immediate past Regional Ambassador (South Asia) of the LSEAA, mandated to provide guidance and peer resource network to group leaders in South Asia on running their groups and identify potential country group leaders and foster potential membership of new country group leaders. Furthermore, he also is an independent advisor to the P.V Narasimha Rao International Foundation (PVNRIF) based in Hyderabad, India where he advises and assists the family of P.V. Narasimha Rao, the former Prime Minister of India, on the activities of the foundation.
He constantly travels to client locations around the world, understand client needs and develop simple solutions to complex problems by ensuring a balanced stakeholder interest. He networks widely across private and public sector organisations and works closely with senior management of large to mid-sized organisations. He also has developed excellent relations with senior regulators in various Governments in Africa and Asia and heads of various diplomatic missions in Africa, Asia and Europe.
He has a multidisciplinary educational background with two postgraduate degrees in Development Management and International Business from the London School of Economics and Political Science, London and University of Sydney, Sydney respectively. His undergraduate degree is in Management with a minor in Politics from DePaul University, Chicago. He also read briefly as an exchange student at the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics, Moscow. Furthermore, he completed a course on Markets System Development approach by The Springfield Centre, United Kingdom.