We had an opportunity to catch up with Vandana Agrawal, DEI expert, management consultant and lecturer at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business.
What drives you to give back?
I have been given so much in my life, just by virtue of being born who I am – easy and unlimited access to the basics in life – food, shelter, healthcare, and education - as well as safety and support. I have been able to realize dreams I didn’t know I had! As the child of immigrant parents, I know my story could have been easily different. And yet, with all that privilege, I am also a minority woman who experiences bias in different ways. If I can help others along their journeys, I will do my best.
What is the most meaningful part of your job?
In any role, it has always been seeing team members or students develop and grow further into who they are as professionals and people. To play a small part through guidance, mentorship, and support, is such a joy and an honor. I love seeing someone’s curiosity and effort combine to have an impact on their trajectory.
What is one industry book that a newcomer must read?
I have been able to engage in DEI work in recent years, and the need for allies and advocates is great – in every industry. Dolly Chugh’s The Person You Mean to Be is an excellent read that offers practical suggestions on how to recognize inequality and be an advocate for those not in places of power. She writes that it’s constant work on yourself, and I’m a great believer in that – we must all work to be better every day.
How did you end up where you are today?
I feel it’s a combination of hard work, respecting relationships and luck. Hard work goes without saying I think, but you have to recognize serendipity as well. The relationships part is important because it’s the network you build that often leads to great work and great opportunities – whether at your current job or next. I also have to say, I have been immensely privileged to have the family support I have always had; it’s hard for me to imagine my life today without that.
What is one thing that a student taught you?
The potential of perseverance. Students may not get a concept the first time, or even the
second or third. Recognizing that, asking for help and then, working hard to understand the
concept and apply it to learning is SO powerful. It’s taught me that, despite disappointments, there are always next steps to take, new paths to try and conquer.
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 academic inclinations and intrinsic motivations behind why we give, and talk with those inclined to make a difference in the lives of students. If you are involved in charitable activities, volunteer and paid academic engagements or in community service, we want to talk to you.
Write to us to nominate yourself or someone else who fits the bill.