Published on May 16, 2016
For decades, designers have been waiting and petitioning for a voice within politics. With their ability to use innovation and design thinking to make a huge positive impact and even change the world, designers have long deserved, and needed, a voice to educate policymakers. A voice is needed to fill the void in advocacy on behalf of innovation and technology. RKS CEO & Founder, Ravi Sawhney, accepted an invitation to be a member of TechNet, an exclusive advocacy group of CEOs and senior executives from 70 of America’s iconic innovation companies. Companies in TechNet include: Accenture, Amazon, Apple, AT&T, Cisco, Kleiner Perkins, Microsoft, Oracle, PayPal, SalesForce, eBay, Visa, Google, HP, Intuit, and his latest start-up LoanGifting just to name a few.
Influencing state and federal governance with global impact has been an ambition of Sawhney’s for decades. Due to his involvement in hundreds of start-ups over his 40 year career, Sawhney comes to TechNet as part of the start-up community that will drive the economy of our country for the foreseeable future. He also brings his Psycho-Aesthetics Design Thinking methodology as a tool to further empower the TechNet team of highly motivated and seasoned professionals. Sawhney’s most recent technology startup, LoanGifting, was created to unite those with Student Loan Debt with their communities of friends, family, affiliations, and employers to become debt free.
As a member, Sawhney attended TechNet Day with 27 Top Executives and CEOs on April 27, 2016, for a full day of meetings with the U.S. government’s leading policymakers on our sector’s most pressing issues. The robust series of meetings with the White House and congressional leaders was due to the diverse and impressive group of tech leaders in attendance; White House Chief of Staff and leadership, rising stars from Congress, congressional leadership including Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan, and the top 30% of the Senate including Oran Hatch and Chuck Schumer.
TechNet founder and Executive Chairman and ex CEO of Cisco, John Chambers expresses the importance of the advocacy group, saying “Are we going to be a country that leads in innovation? We’re falling behind, the longer we wait on the decisions we just talked about the further behind we fall. And it does require the courage to make fundamental changes with business and government working together.” The technology industry has great influence as it is growing at a rate of 35% per year while other industries are shrinking. “You look at the future of our country, 92% of the jobs created over the next decade will have technology skills involved,” Chambers continues, stressing the influence of technology in economic growth for the United States. As a member of TechNet, Sawhney works among other top tier technology companies that advocate for the growing, impactful community of technology and innovation.
The group discussed high level topics including: making America more globally competitive, encouraging economic growth, creating jobs, and preparing students for the modern workforce. TechNet advocated for education reform so that young people are given proper, up to date educations to graduate high school with the skills necessary to get jobs. K-12 computer and technology training is a hot topic that could have a massive effect on modern education, enhancing and jumpstarting the capabilities of our young, future leaders. A digital plan is also necessary for the US in this increasingly technology driven economy, especially to stay competitive globally. A scintillating topic brought up was the raising demand for UX designers and the huge role they are quickly playing in the job market due to the uncontrollable growth of the technology industry. This opportunity to communicate ways in which embracing technology will advance our economy to key decision makers and political leaders and influence policy is a massive stride, and only beginning.
Sawhney has unwaveringly advocated for design’s role in government throughout his career and written numerous articles promoting the presence of design in Washington. Sawhney shares his appreciation for his new membership, “TechNet stands for the future of our economic leadership. Industrial Designers, like myself, are often at the epicenter of innovation, technology, and experience. It’s an unprecedented honor to be part of this organization that connects the U.S. government with developing a future that is as bright as its past. Providing design’s voice and relevance to the subjects of the economy, immigration, energy, education, student debt and other top topics, is something I’ve had my sights on for decades. Truly the lessons learned over the past forty years in design, all come to bear now as we transform the domestic and global economy through what may predict is the next Industrial Revolution, the one of Technology and Connectivity. The implications to life for all on the planet are vast. And, the members and leadership of TechNet are brilliant, profoundly successful, and invested in everyone’s future as well.”
TechNet is the national, bipartisan network of technology CEOs and senior executives that promotes the growth of the innovation economy by advocating a targeted policy agenda at the federal and 50-state level. TechNet’s diverse membership includes dynamic startups to the most iconic companies on the planet and represents more than two million employees in the fields of information technology, e-commerce, advanced energy, biotechnology, venture capital, and finance. TechNet has offices in Washington, D.C., Silicon Valley, Sacramento, Seattle, Boston, and Austin.
About Ravi Sawhney:
Ravi Sawhney is CEO and Founder of RKS, a Los Angeles based design and innovation firm that has more than thrived through its 36, and counting, years in business. For decades, Sawhney has led his team in wowing industries from consumer products to medical to technology with unexpected and impactful innovation and design. Sawhney has a track record of incubating successful companies of his own as well as investing in many of the companies that RKS has created designs for. His impressive portfolio of companies and investments has become highly respected with exceptional success through both earnings and unique innovation. Sawhney states, “Industrial Designers are often unsung heroes of innovation. We’re trained to see through the smoke and mirrors, the traditions and superstitions, through all the noise right to people’s needs and aspirations and into their heads and hearts. And in the process we fuse technology together with user experience to create new worlds for people.”