After graduating from the Texas Full-Time MBA program in 2001, Raj Gilda spent 10 years in New York working with Citibank and Deloitte Consulting. During that time, he also co-founded the non-profit organization Lend-A-Hand India with hopes to make a difference in the lives of the poor through self-help.
I recently caught up with Raj to hear more about what he’s up to now and talk about his time as an MBA student.
Where are you working now and what do you do?
RG: Three years ago, I switched to full-time in the social enterprise sector from banking and consulting and could not be happier about it. Currently, I spend the majority of my time in India focusing full-time on Lend-A-Hand India while also working with Citibank.
With a total staff of about 350 people providing job and life skills to more than 13,000 young boys and girls from 80 high schools in rural India, I manage the resource mobilization and external relations and run the chapters in London and New York for Lend-A-Hand India. Recently I was appointed as an advisor to the Government of Maharashtra and part of the state committee to review and formulate syllabi for vocational courses offered at secondary and higher secondary levels.
What were you doing before you came to McCombs for your MBA?
RG: I worked with Mahindra British Telecom in Belfast and National Stock Exchange and IL&FS in Mumbai before joining McCombs.
Why did you want an MBA and why Texas?
RG: I have always had a dream to start something on my own, whether it be a private or social enterprise. After working across the continents for eight years in multi-functional areas, going to business school was a natural choice to develop my entrepreneurial skills. Texas is known for its entrepreneurship program and the faculty, which is truly world class. Also, a couple of friends I knew were alumni of the school and they highly recommended it.
What was your biggest takeaway from the program? Any particular advice, key classes, connections, mentors, etc. that really had an impact on you?
RG: Classes by John Doggett and Jim Nolen had the biggest impact on me. Neither were lifetime teachers but rather practitioners on the ground, and they brought the real world inside the classroom in a fascinating way. They provided a great grounding to go out and be on your own – which I am now!
Running a non-profit is much more about influencing people because we don’t have huge budgets to pay somebody, so how to influence people and present a concept and get the buy-in is one of the most important things that I learned at the business school.
Can you name a favorite moment you had during your time in the program?
RG: After successfully putting together the largest Information Management Challenge in school history with the awesome team I had, I met a senior manager from Deloitte who had judged the competition. Several months later when I found myself without an interview slot for the Deloitte summer internship program, I dug up that business card and made a phone call.
It was 9.30 p.m. on the evening before the campus interviews by Deloitte and I called his cell phone. Because I was not that comfortable at that time to call someone so late, I disconnected the phone after calling. For some reason he called me back, so I explained who I was and I said “I don’t know if you remember me from the Information Management Challenge several months back,” and he said, “Yes, yes of course I remember you. You guys did such a great job.”
So I said, “You know that tomorrow Deloitte is here interviewing 200 students for the internship, but I haven’t been short listed for an interview, so is there something that you can do?” At 11:30 p.m. I received a phone call from a recruiter who said they could fit me in at 7:30 a.m. the next day before the other interviews started.
So that’s how it went and the rest is history. I ended up working for Deloitte, which is how I ended up in New York, where I went on to work for Citi later. So getting that phone call at 11.30 p.m. from the Deloitte recruiter to schedule my last minute interview for a summer internship was my most favorite moment during the program
What else have you been up to since you graduated from McCombs, outside of work?
RG: When I co-founded Lend-A-Hand India, I was working with Citibank in New York, so it was almost like a second job. This social enterprise which we started with a mere $500 is now reaching 13,000 young boys and girls from 300 villages in rural India providing them critical jobs and life skills – so I’m proud to say, most of my time outside work is spent in cultivating this enterprise!