It is with great pleasure that we share the inspiring story of Raj Mehrotra, a dynamic individual deeply ingrained in the Manhattan Beach and Los Angeles communities. Serving on the board of an education foundation and a national charity, Raj's commitment extends beyond his 22-year marriage and the joys of parenting two teenage sons. At Deloitte, he holds the position of LA office managing partner, leading the national M&A practice portfolio. Beyond his professional endeavors, Raj, an avid Ironman athlete, kickstarts his mornings with invigorating swims in the Pacific. His narrative encapsulates a harmonious blend of professional success, family values, and an unwavering dedication to community enrichment.
Read his story.
What drives you to give back?
I had the good fortune of being born in a family where education was considered to a significant goal, come hell or high water. I also was born into a middle class household, in a country where millions then struggled to put two square meals on a table, where both my parents worked jobs while raising my sister (who is eight years older) and I. By the time, my turn came to go to an undergraduate college, my parents were in their upper middle ages and had enough saved to afford me an education abroad. With a high work ethic that I was exposed to early within my family, I didn’t have to look too far while getting a college education that started in India, took me to England and eventually landed me in California. Along my career journey at my current firm where I have now entered my 24th year after graduating college, I was mentored by many who taught me my core technical skills, how to build my confidence as an immigrant and finesse my market facing brand with our clients. I am at a comfortable place in my life today because of the help I got along the way. At some stage within my career journey, I developed a strong urge to give back to my community which was a natural extension of the mentorship and coaching model that is built within my workplace.
It is said that when you give back to others, you not only enrich their lives but also nourish your own soul. The satisfaction I derive in extending help to those that need it most is a selfish gesture that adds meaning to spectrum of actions that I undertake every day for myself, my family, and at work.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I have come to prioritize my physical and mental health in recent years. Establishing good habits early on, such as regular exercise, proper sleep, and stress management, can significantly impact your overall well-being. There was a time early in my career when between the demands of the family and work, I would not focus on myself. After making some notable changes in my diet a few years ago, I was able to get fitter and discover the benefits of conscious eating. With the new found energy of dropping the extra lbs., I got interested in partaking in triathlons, having never swum in the ocean before. In 2023, I graduated over that five year journey to finally competing in an Ironman competition that embodies a 2.4 mile open water swim, a 112 mile bike course, followed by running a marathon. Today, I have developed a meditational focus towards doing some exercise daily, be it a run, bike ride, swim in a pool or the ocean, yoga, pickleball, strength training, skiing in the winters or even a simple walk with our golden doodle, Kai.
How did you help your community this year?
My wife and I are blessed with two boys, aged 11 and 14. Outside of raising our kids, earning a living and training for Ironman competitions, I voluntarily serve on two boards in an effort to provide more structure to my involvement in the community. I am involved with the Manhattan Beach Education Foundation (MBEF), that funds our local school public school district (MBUSD) with enrichment programs for the neighborhood students. This year, I chaired the educator’s grant committee at MBEF, which is tasked with selecting and funding specific applications from MBUSD teachers to add to the experience delivered by them in the classrooms of the elementary, middle and high schools.
The board role at MBEF affords me the opportunity to stay connected with my kids’ schools/education but also interact with our wider neighborhood community that we as a family feel a welcome part of and deeply care about. This school year, our family is benefitting from hosting a 17 year old boy from Italy, who is visiting the US in our local high school in his first visit to this country on an exchange program, while providing an enriching opportunity to him as well as us to learn from his rich and diverse experiences. I also serve on the board of Make-A-Wish foundation of Los Angeles and chair the development committee to raise awareness in funding wishes of children with critical illnesses. The main takeaway from my non-for-profit experiences is that individuals considering board service should carefully assess their time commitment, skills, and alignment with the organization's mission to ensure a meaningful and mutually beneficial experience, as I have found to be for myself.
What’s the best way students learn?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to learning, as individuals have diverse learning styles and preferences. In my own experience, the best way to learn any new subject, skill or to hone talent by active learning (aka “doing”). I have found that by actively engaging with the material, gives me the ability to really understand the content of what I am trying to master. This can include discussions, group activities, hands-on projects, and interactive exercises depending upon what I am trying to learn. Most importantly, what this country has reinforced for me personally is creating a supportive learning environment for my children, and tailoring instructional methods to meet the diverse needs of an individual.
What gives you fulfillment in life?
I have come to focus on the simple joys of living my life every day and live gratefully for what I have been bestowed. For example, a good night’s sleep now gives me more joy than it ever did in the past! I like to believe that today, with purposeful actions, I am living at atleast 80% of my potential, which incorporates all aspects of my life – personal and professional. Staying actively engaged in an often long journey of achieving any objective, be it a triathlon race or advancing a trusting relationship with my teenage son or providing for my octogenarian parents or being a wish granter for a kid/family that is suffering the pain of an illness over which they have no control, is far more fulfilling than reaching any financial outcome at this stage of my life. Acts of kindness, empathy, and compassion, even on a small scale, can have a ripple effect and contribute to a more compassionate and peaceful world compared to the one we live in today.
1000 Spotlights: Why We Give reflects our mission of giving back, to mentor and to inspire those around us. Through a series of interview questions, we explore intrinsic motivations behind why we give, and talk with those inclined to make a difference in the lives of others. If you are involved in charitable activities, volunteer and paid academic engagements or in community service, we want to talk to you.
This magazine is committed to featuring individuals who are making a positive impact, without any pay-to-play agenda. Write to us to nominate someone exceptional who is making a difference in extraordinary ways.
1000 Spotlights is part of UGSI that also owns SpeakerPost.com, a free social impact global platform that connects educators with industry experts and with other educators for volunteer guest speaking in college classrooms. If you are looking for a guest speaker for a student-focused event, or want to explore ways to share your career journey with students, please reach out and request your free invite code via SpeakerPost.com