30 Jan 2017
The journey from a Gurugram slum to a desk at 101 Collins St in Melbourne has been an exciting and hard-fought one for Macquarie Asset Management intern Mahinder.
Winning a scholarship to study a Masters of Computer Science at the University in Melbourne, Mahinder (with the help of connections made through Macquarie Group Foundation grant partner Asha Community Health and Development Society) was also able to secure a three-month paid internship at Macquarie Group’s Melbourne office over the 2016-17 holiday season.
Asha is supported by Macquarie’s Gurugram office, which offers internships to university students from slum communities in Delhi. Asha also tackles other issues that can keep slum dwellers trapped in poverty, including access to healthcare, financial services and education, which helps make long-term changes to their lives.
Its internship program provides invaluable exposure to a corporate environment for people who are often the first in their family to attend college. It’s how Mahinder first came to be introduced to Macquarie in 2013, when he undertook a six-week internship while studying for his Bachelor of Information Technology.
In his 2017 role at Macquarie, Mahinder has been utilising his computer programmer skills to help develop a customer relationship management tool. His time in Melbourne – his first trip anywhere outside of Gurugram - has brought many novel experiences.
“Everything is new for me almost every day,” Mahinder says. “Studying, travelling, even ways of eating – but I am really enjoying it.
“It’s been a bit difficult to communicate because my English is not so good but I’ve been here for six months now and getting better.
“It is a dream come true for me to get a job in a foreign land. My parents and everyone at Asha were so happy when we heard the news!”
Both Mahinder’s Macquarie mentor, Gopi Bahl from Macquarie’s Corporate Operations Group, and Dr Kiran Martin, Asha Society’s CEO, continue to guide and advise Mahinder.
Ms Bahl says Mahinder’s hunger for knowledge, his unflagging energy and high integrity are what stand out to her since she met him in 2013.
They regularly keep in touch, with Ms Bahl recommending contacts in knowledge areas Mahinder needed, as well as providing practical assistance such as text books.
“It was Asha that helped give him his first break,” Ms Bahl says. “With their continued support, he has been developing his own networks and leveraging his own ingenuity.”
“Asha gave him the confidence to ask questions and be comfortable in an environment quite different to the one he grew up in. I give him 10 out of 10 for applying himself and am very proud of what he’s achieved so far - it’s so heartening to observe.”
Asha’s Dr Martin also commended Mahinder’s journey, saying it sent “a powerful message to disadvantaged young people living in poverty everywhere”.
“He is such a wonderful example of how transformation can occur when young people are provided with the right opportunities, treated fairly and equally, and given mentorship along with all the support they need to realise their dreams,” Dr Martin says.
Pending finances, Mahinder is also considering a PhD if circumstances allow but he has not forgotten his Asha connections, volunteering as one of the charity’s ambassadors and teaching maths to students still living in the slums.
“I’m so happy to be at Macquarie,” he says. “Whatever I do, I am keen to learn.”
He particularly thanked his Melbourne manager at Macquarie, Steve Gross, for his guidance and encouragement, saying it was “an absolute honour and a privilege” to work within his team and he was very grateful for the opportunity.
Image caption: During his three-month internship at Macquarie’s Melbourne office, Mahinder worked in the Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets division.