Ryan Patel shares his journey becoming a world-renowned authority on global business, political economy, and corporate governance.

How to become a global thought leader

September 27, 2023 • By The UCI Paul Merage School of Business

Ryan Patel never thought he would end up being a global thought leader.

But since earning his master’s degree in 2008 from The Paul Merage School of Business, he’s become a world-renowned authority on global business.

Patel has made thousands of media appearances, spoken at the World Economic Forum, interfaced with international leaders, was featured on the NASDAQ tower, and amassed a vast social media following. He’s a regular contributor to major media outlets, and he serves on the advisory board of Mastercard Innovation Collective, HEC Diversity Committee and is part of “The Collective” at the Washington Post Creative Group.

“Ryan has made a massive mark in the business world since he’s left the Merage School,” Dean Ian O. Williamson said. “He’s leveraged his diverse background in multiple industries to become a trusted voice on many important subjects. We are proud of the work he has done at the global level to inform and improve the business community.”



Forming a unique perspective

Patel joined the Merage School in the 2008 class to boost his finance skills and become a member of a varied cohort with unique professionals from a myriad of industries. He found deep value in the relationships he forged with impactful people and developed an important comprehension of the various industries in the business world.

Patel also learned to effectively communicate during his time at the School, which has been an important asset to the self-described “introvert.”

“Being able to speak in front of a group and convey a message in a clear way is something that I have used throughout my career,” Patel said.

After graduation, Patel took on VP roles for a few fortune 500 organizations. While Patel made many contributions to these companies, he became known for the growth he spearheaded at a startup to triple in size and expand into 23 countries.  Drawing from his background, Patel found credible and reliable global partners throughout these experiences.

He didn’t know it at the time, but Patel’s future career as a global thought leader began to take root during the tail end of his corporate career around 10 years ago.

Due to his background in many different industries and unique perspective, companies and universities started asking Patel to speak at events. That grew into keynote speaking invitations to a number of business conferences.

“This was really the genesis of my current work,” Patel said. “After I started doing these speaking engagements, I started getting contacted by the media.”


Making a global impact

Over the last several years, you could at any time tune into a news station and see Patel breaking down complex subjects for a general audience. He’s become an important source and business expert for members of the media and he has provided crucial context when news drops on a variety of subjects, from U.S. and China technological tensions to Federal Reserve rate increases. He’s made regular appearances on CNN, BBC, CGTN, Fox Business, CNBC and Al Jazeera.

Patel takes this work seriously, spending hours preparing for each segment. Thousands of people around the world rely on his analytical expertise, so Patel wants to adequately inform the public so they can be better prepared to react to global issues. One of these particularly important instances occurred a few months before COVID-19 spread to the U.S. Patel was one of the first voices to warn of the dire economic consequences that the pandemic would cause.

“Once I got more comfortable in knowing what I wanted to do with the television segment, I worked on informing the audience by breaking down complex subjects with simpler terms,” Patel said. “I didn’t ever think that this would turn into something that I did regularly, but from the beginning I always wanted to use my time wisely on the air.”

With his varied background and experiences in a lot of different industries, Patel is also regularly invited as a speaker to important global events. Patel reached the highest level of the global business world when he was invited to take part in the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“This is a forum where you know the right people are listening and it gives you hope that there can be change,” Patel said. “To take part in this, it feels like you reached the pinnacle. You share the stage with so many incredible people.”

Patel was also asked to participate in the United Nations General Assembly, the central policy making component of the United Nations. He interacted with world leaders and took part in events that help determine the future of the business world.

Patel was particularly elated to deliver the opening remarks at the private dinner event with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte.  I also had the opportunity to lead a conversation where we talked about a variety of global topics such as inflation, the talent gap, diversity, global trade, and the impact of geopolitics on US business.


‘The Moment’

Patel’s ability to interface with executives and world leaders has served him well as he’s grown his HP presented YouTube series, “The Moment with Ryan Patel.” During the roughly five-minute videos, Patel interviews significant innovators and business leaders in the garage that gave rise to Silicon Valley.

During the first season, he uncovered the interesting backgrounds of business giants like Zoom Founder and CEO Eric Yuan, HP CEO Enrique Lores, and former HP Chief Diversity Officer Lesley Slaton Brown, current CDO, NBA. While the show is still growing, it’s clear that Patel’s content is resonating with the public. Hundreds of thousands have watched the videos, and that audience will only grow once the second season is released in the fall.

“I feel very honored and privileged to be looked upon as the person to connect these thought leaders with the public and help better understand their stories,” Patel said.

“The Moment” doesn’t feature your typical interview. Patel wants to make sure that each episode reveals something new about each subject that viewers wouldn’t already know. He wants to connect with the business leaders on a human level so that viewers can relate with them.

It isn’t an easy feat to help the titans of the tech industry dig deep and open up on camera. But Patel’s longstanding background communicating with people from all walks of life makes him a great interviewer.

“I think I have a responsibility to show not just the business side but the human side of them and their journeys,” he said. “It’s the little things that make us human and brings us together to figure out how to serve the greater good.”


Creating community and leading organizations

In addition to this work, Patel is engaging with the community through social media and is directly influencing the business world while sitting on various boards of important organizations.

Patel has amassed a large community on LinkedIn and has the exclusive Top Voice badge. As a LinkedIn influencer, Top Voices is an invitation-only program featuring a global group of experts on covering a range of topics across the professional world, and helping members uncover valuable knowledge relevant to them.  He is also listed as one of the top “Creators to Follow” by LinkedIn Editor in Chief.  He enjoys how the medium provides another way for him to build and engage with others.

“I think I have one of the best communities on LinkedIn,” Patel said. “It’s really rewarding to read the comment section and engage with people. It’s allowed me to make an impact in people’s lives by facilitating connections.”

He’s also continuing to impact how businesses function through his roles on the boards of Mastercard Innovation Collective, Drucker School of Management, Claremont Graduate University, The Wall Street Journal, and HEC Paris.  Each of these boards benefit from Patel’s unique perspectives on business.

“I’m kind of like the wildcard in that I can challenge the HR person, the marketing person, the cyber person, because of my varied experiences,” he said. Patel is at the forefront of what the new age of a board of directors will look like, and inclusion is important, and this is what the future is going to look like.”


Digital transformation – what’s next?

The ability to be more mindful of inclusivity is just one very important component of the shifting business landscape. As a global thought leader, Patel has to act as a sort of futurist, providing analysis and projections that many individuals and business leaders will rely on to guide their decision making. This is all the more important today as society moves into the largely untested terrains of artificial intelligence and other transformative technologies.

Patel believes that being adaptive and resilient will be crucial traits as leaders confront new obstacles.

“As leaders and others who are looking at new technology, they need to ask smart questions and try to figure out how it can benefit their organizations and be ahead of the game,” Patel said. “This is the time for leaders to think about how they can disrupt things now because you will be disrupted. You’re either going to be reactive or proactive.”

Patel said one particularly important aspect of the business world that is changing is more businesses are thinking about the experience of their services and products at all levels. Experience is being considered across the entire business ecosystem, including startups and big businesses.

Though the world is already very connected digitally, that will also continue to grow.

“I think that is a great thing because we can solve more problems together and have more open lines of communication,” Patel said.

As the flow of information and business continues across borders, Patel will be there to make sense of it all. He takes pride in providing important analysis to the public and important global business leaders.

He’s a strong believer in using his influence in a responsible way. Once you gain the spotlight, it’s important to use it wisely.

“I constantly remind myself, ‘you have a voice, use it wisely,” Patel reflected.  “This moment could shift in an instant, and I want to look back with pride at the difference I’ve made.”