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Young Professional - Emil Kuruvilla

Nirmala Garimella

Could you tell us a little about your background? 

I was born and raised in Southern California. During college, I studied International Studies & Management at the University of California, Irvine. 

After college, I had the great opportunity to do a public affairs fellowship with the Coro Foundation. In this nine-month period, I worked across the public, private, and non-profit sectors. 

For the last 5.5 years, I have been doing marketing/communications work for the Deshpande Foundation in India and the U.S.

Can you tell us about your current position? How did you choose your field of work?  

Since 2011, I have been the Senior Marketing Manager at the Deshpande Foundation’s Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) center in Lowell & Lawrence, MA. EforAll focuses on helping early-stage entrepreneurs launch their for-profit and non-profit ventures. In addition to recruiting entrepreneurs to take part in our programs, I manage the organization’s press, social media, and community outreach efforts.  

I’ve always been passionate about grassroots impact and believe there is a huge potential for change to happen from the bottom-up. This inspired me to work for the Deshpande Foundation. 

How did you get to where you are today?

Throughout my life, I’ve always been surrounded by extremely supportive people. My mother never pressured me into choosing one field or the other; rather, she encouraged me to excel at whatever I do.  

In my professional life, I’ve had the opportunity to work for true visionaries such as Desh & Jaishree Deshpande. They have challenged me to think differently about the social impact sector and how I can make an impact in the world.  

What was your first job?

During my senior year of high school, I worked at a local sporting goods store. I unpacked, processed, organized, and stored merchandise. Looking back in my career, this was not my favorite job, but I learned a lot of things including the value of process in an organization. 

My first job out of college was a fellowship with the Coro Foundation. 

What advice would you give to others who want a career like yours?

If you are looking for a career in the social impact sector, find an organization that shares your values and that has a mission you are passionate about. 

When looking at work locations, think beyond major metropolitan cities. There are so many small and mid-sized cities that you can have a huge impact on. 

Most importantly, try and allow the community to drive the process. They are the experts, not you.  

What has been your greatest professional accomplishment so far?

When I worked for the Deshpande Foundation in India, I trained over 200 locals in media/communications. My best student was a local college student in Hubli, Karnataka. I trained him for a year. 

After I left India, this young man took over my position. I’m proud that I not only trained a young man, but that I created a leader. More importantly, I found a way for the community to sustain what I had built. 

How do you manage a balance between your Indian and American Cultures? 

I’m very fortunate in that I have the opportunity to travel to India for work every year. This inspires me to stay plugged in with what’s happening in the country. 

I try to stay up to date by reading online publications such as The Hindu. I paid a lot of attention to the 2014 general election. 

Also, now and then I will catch Bollywood movies on Netflix or iTunes! 

What were the best things your parents did for you as you were growing up? 

When I was eight years old, my family went on a road trip across Oregon, Washington, and parts of Canada. At that time, there was no iPads or car DVD players, so I had the opportunity to focus on what was happening outside the car window. 

That summer, I had the opportunity to see how different people lived, including those less fortunate. Looking back, I think that was the beginning point of my interest social issues. 

What is the toughest interview question you have been asked?

What makes our competitor better than us? 

What do you do in your spare time outside of work?

Since 2013, I have been a volunteer for the American India Foundation (AIF). The organization has given me the chance to work with a core group of individuals who are passionate about expanding opportunities to some of the most marginalized people in India. 

Since June 2014, our volunteer group has designed & executed two crowdfunding campaigns that have nearly raised $100,000 for LAMP; this innovative AIF program provides education opportunities to children of Indian migrant workers.  

What is currently in your ipod/smartphone– music?

I am currently listening to the album “Awake” by Tycho. 

Can you finish this sentence - I believe?

“I believe in the imagination. What I cannot see is infinitely more important than what I can see.” – Duane Michals 

What is your Favorite App?


What advice would you give young people growing up as Indian Americans in the US? 

I think as Indian-Americans, we sometimes lose touch with our roots. We all should try to find ways of staying connected to India. There are organizations out there that offer meaningful internship/work opportunities in India. 

If you can’t make that type of commitment, offer your time and/or resources to an organization that you believe in and can offer value to. A small commitment can make a big impact. 

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