About Us Contact Us Help




Young Professional: Adhiraj Vable

Nirmala Garimella

Could you tell us a little about your background?  

I grew up in a small town in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, the far northern part of the state that extends into Lake Superior. I received my BS in Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan and MS in Environmental Studies at the University of Oregon. Throughout that time, I was focused on rural electrification in India using renewable energy. After, I completed a Fulbright Fellowship in Uttarakhand and switched to working on agricultural issues. In late 2013, I returned to start a tea company named Young Mountain Tea, which we created in order to create dingifield livelihoods for remote Himalayan communities. I’ve been working to build the company since returning to the US.

Can you tell us about your current work? 

I am a co-founder of a social enterprise, which means I do a little bit of everything. It’s great! I chose the field of social entrepreneurship by following “the path of least resistance.” I do my best to follow my curiosity wherever it leaves, which often times means letting go of what is familiar in exchange for the thrill of possibility. First, it led to renewable energy, then to south India, then north to the Himalayas, then to tea, which is where it remains.

What is the ultimate goal or mission of your non profit?

 Our organization’s mission is to connect remote Himalayan communities with American resources to foster cultural exchange. To do that, we’re building a new tea region on the border of India and Nepal in partnership with small farmers. We are actually organized as a for-profit company in order to go to scale, but the motivation of our work is strongly tied to our social and ecological values.

Can you share with us your success of your recent fundraiser?

We just completed a Kickstarter campaign that raised $30,000 in 30 days. The project will harvest the first tea from a new sustainable tea region in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, right on the border between India and Nepal.

What inspired people to rally for support ?

That’s a great question, and it has a complicated answer, as we had more than 300 people contribute, all for different reasons. At the heart of it, though, I believe we put together a project with a compelling story that also had cross over appeal to a wide variety of people – from those interested in social justice to average consumers.

What was your first job?

I babysat for my neighbors. I remember it felt more like playing than working – I would go on small adventures with my younger friends on the rocks and woods that surrounded our houses.

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

I’m in the startup world, so I’d said work for another organization doing similar work, ideally one that can pay you. It gives you a strong sense of what the work entails without the risk of leading it yourself.

What has been your greatest professional accomplishment so far?

Securing the Fulbright Fellowship that allowed me to return to the Himalayan communities I had grown to love and work with them to create Young Mountain Tea.

How do you manage a balance between your Indian and American Cultures0?

By spending large amounts of time immersed in both cultures! I once heard another Indian American describe himself as “Too Indian to be American and too American to be Indian.”  I felt that for a while before realizing it wasn’t a choice; I could be both, which made for a much more interesting life perspective.

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

Three things – they instilled a sense of travel in my sister and I, they didn’t create expectations for what we should do with our careers, and they supported us no matter what. In other words, they gave us the exhilaration of the unknown, wished us well on our way, and have been our cheerleaders since.

What is the toughest interview question you have been asked?

“What are you worst at?”

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

I try to spend as much time outdoors as I can. That usually takes the form of ultimate frisbee, runs, and recently I’ve been trying to learn to surf. I live in Oregon, so when it’s raining, I like to play guitar, go to concerts, go dancing, and play chess. And rain or shine, every morning begins with yoga and tea.

What is currently in your ipod/smartphone– music?

I like to make seasonal playlists. Right now, for Spring 2015, I have a lot of dance music – “Harvest Moon” by Poolside, “And I Say” by Nicolas Jaar, and a more down tempo song called “Here With me” by Susie Suh x Robot Koch

Can you finish this sentence - I believe?

I believe that there’s no better day than today, so get to it!

What is your Favorite App?

I don’t really have one. Probably Google Maps, I guess, but only because it’s the one I use most. I’m still getting used to having a smart phone, and not wild about the transition. I felt too plugged in with my good old flip phone!

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

Spend some time in India, but only when you’re ready, not when you feel compelled to by some outside pressure. And spend time in places that don’t have connections to your family.

Homepage: youngmountaintea.com

Newsletter signup: http://youngmountaintea.com/pages/newsletter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YoungMountainTea
Twitter: https://twitter.com/YoungMtnT

Bookmark and Share |

You may also access this article through our web-site http://www.lokvani.com/

Home | About Us | Contact Us | Copyrights Help