Sunil Narayan

Sunil Narayan is a strategic problem-solver with a passion for people development and organizational efficiency and effectiveness. In his role at Urbane, he works with client and project teams to ensure a seamless experience from engagement inception through final product delivery. 

Mr. Narayan joined Urbane Development in 2015 as Senior Consultant, Operations and Talent. His responsibilities include ensuring operational efficiency through prudent fiscal and project management, understanding and acquiring the human capital necessary to exceed client expectations, and providing strategic business insight to help the organization grow. Sunil has successfully led and coordinated project teams for a diverse array of clients and engagements, including healthy retail projects for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, California Department of Public Health, Fair Food Network (MI) and Appetite for Change (MN); a food hall feasibility study in Grandmont Rosedale (MI); and a report on the financial impacts of interactions with the criminal justice system for a New York City municipal agency. Additionally, Sunil also has also provided retail and commercial market analysis for clients in Oakland (CA), Sonoma County (CA), New York City and New Jersey.

Most recently, he worked at General Mills, one of the largest food companies in the world, providing HR Generalist support and interfacing with corporate business partners in a continuous 24/7 convenience and food services manufacturing facility. During his tenure, some of his key responsibilities included data analysis to inform managerial decisions, leading annual performance appraisal cycles, mentoring and coaching interns, successfully managing cross functional recruiting teams and leading various corporate diversity initiatives.

Prior to General Mills, he worked as a Senior Manager for Junior Achievement, the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating students about workforce readiness, entrepreneurship and financial literacy. He oversaw the JA Fellows program, where he designed and implemented a highly effective entrepreneurship and leadership program for high school students from 16 school districts in Metro Atlanta. In addition to consistently executing a high-quality program under budget each year, he digitized student application data to allow for real-time analysis of recruiting trends and engaged key stakeholders to raise the program’s profile, resulting in national media features and increased website traffic and applications.

In addition to his corporate and nonprofit experience, Mr. Narayan has also worked as Director of Educational Operations at A+ Grades Up, a Supplemental Educational Services provider at Title I Schools, where he managed client relationships in Georgia, Arkansas and Florida, helping students bridge the achievement gap. He also instructed 150 primarily lower-level students in algebra and consumer mathematics as a public high school teacher in Metro Atlanta, where he facilitated the creation of an afterschool program to combat the dropout rate for the rapidly growing English Language Learning population.

Mr. Narayan holds a BA in Mathematics from New York University and an MBA from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

The Urbane Q&A… with Sunil Narayan

Q.  Why Urbane?

A.  Beyond the fact that the work Urbane does positively impacts underserved communities throughout the US, every project we undertake is a new challenge that allows me to draw upon a diverse set of experiences and skill sets. I have not spent a single day being “bored at work”! Urbane – and our clients – dream big and reimagine a multitude of possibilities within the world of community and economic development. Yet we move beyond the world of idealism and execute and implement. It’s this mix of possibilities, of thinking big and the pragmatism of being solution-oriented, that draws me in and keeps me motivated.

Q.  Sunil– where do you see opportunities that were missed in the corporate space, that we can take advantage of in our space?

A.  Urbane is uniquely situated as a small enterprise firmly attuned to the needs of underserved communities, which allows it to nimbly adapt and address a multitude of challenges that larger corporate or nonprofit entities may overlook or be ill-equipped to handle. Yet by the same measure, our Collaborative structure allows us to partner with subject matter experts and like-minded firms to tackle projects at scale, giving us the look and feel of a much larger entity. I think this provides a competitive advantage and allows us to pursue projects that are both niche and “mainstream” simultaneously. It also allows us to seek out work and projects that expands the playing field. Personally, I look forward to finding ways to incorporate and address the needs of marginalized LGBT communities – be they homeless youth or trans women of color – within both our existing projects and future work streams

Q.  What‘s it like being Desi (South Asian) from West Virginia?

A.  When I was younger, I viewed growing up Indian in West Virginia as a curse. A few decades on, I view it as a blessing. I’ve learned to reconcile the South Asian and Appalachian influences, realizing that both are important to me, and I can be both – and many other hyphenated identities – simultaneously without conflict. I inherently understand what its liking growing up marked by difference. This context, and other later life experiences, allow me to connect the dots between rural and urban; black, white and brown; privileged and disenfranchised; gay and straight; Hindu, Christian, Muslim or Jewish. I respect individual differences, but my life has trained me to find commonality and points of intersection. I don’t think I’d have it any other way.