This story originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Harker Magazine.
When someone asks for a volunteer, Roshni Mehra ’06 is often the first person to raise her hand. Her journey from finance to philanthropy was a result of her decision to pursue her passion and willingness to be open to every opportunity that came her way.
Whether it was in Cheryl Cavanaugh’s English class at Harker, where she learned how the power of someone’s passion can ignite your own, or working with disadvantaged students through PIMCO Foundation’s Tools for Tomorrow program, Mehra wasn’t afraid to follow her heart to find what’s right. Mehra attended Harker’s upper school and then went on to the University of California, Irvine, to pursue business economics and international studies. While she was in college, she interned at Merrill Lynch for two years and then joined asset management firm PIMCO upon graduation.
Being the youngest person ever hired and the only woman on the team, she was hungry to learn, working from 3 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day on the trade floor. While she harnessed many skills while working in finance, it was never her passion. The problem was, she didn’t know what her passion actually was – that is, until she got involved in PIMCO’s Women’s Leadership Network and the PIMCO Foundation.
“Due to my early work hours and the late evening afterschool programs I was volunteering with, I started to stretch myself too thin,” Mehra said. “I soon realized that my favorite part of my job was taking place after work. That’s when I knew there was a problem.”
She took the bold step to quit her job at PIMCO and do a year of service and exploration. As a part of this soulsearching mission, she had two goals for the year: first, to build an educational foundation in the nonprofit world, and second, to get as much experiential knowledge as possible doing pro bono work.
She took classes through Stanford University and Coursera.Being on campus, Mehra soon became involved with Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society (Stanford PACS), which develops and shares knowledge to improve philanthropy, strengthen civil society and effect social change. “I said yes to every opportunity that came my way,” said Mehra with a bright smile on her face.
But she didn’t stop there. She also volunteered for a locally based, internationally aimed nonprofit called Home of Hope, which advances education for girls in India. In typical Mehra fashion, she joined its board of directors, became the executive director of the English Empowerment Program and director of the Youth Chapter, and even launched a social venture called Mentors Without Borders, which was featured on NBC Bay Area.
“I discovered I was most passionate about creating a lasting impact and igniting empowerment through mentorship and education,” she said. “I knew I needed to be a part of an impact-driven organization.” She’s doing just that at Stanford Graduate School of Business as the associate director of development marketing and communications, where her job doesn’t feel like work because it is so aligned with her passion and desire to have a positive impact in the world.
In addition to creating meaningful impact reports for donors, Mehra also volunteers as a pre-major advisor for Stanford undergraduate students, serving as a mentor and life coach for a cohort of 15-plus freshman and sophomore students as they navigate the transition from high school to college. But that’s not the only way she gives back. She volunteers with a group that brings therapy dogs to campus every month for students, faculty and staff to de-stress.
“Having hired Roshni 4 1/2 years ago, I subsequently promoted her into several other positions. Her capacity to take on increased responsibility has grown consistently,” said Susan Chung, director of development marketing and communications at Stanford Graduate School of Business. “What I appreciate most about Roshni is her approach to getting things done. Whether that be within our immediate team or across departments, her positive impact is grounded in seeking to understand issues and opportunities from multiple perspectives.”