Chai with Manju chats with Jaishree Deshpande


Jaishree DeshpandeJaishree Deshpande is a co-founder of the Deshpande Foundation. She is also the treasurer of Sparta Group. She serves as a trustee for the Museum of Science and is involved with HESTIA Fund — a fund established to support quality after school programming for low-income children. She worked for the Indian Space Research Organization in Bangalore, India until 1980 before moving to Canada. She worked for several Massachusetts companies and taught courses in computer science. She has a master’s degree in physics from the Indian Institute of Technologies in Madras a master’s degree in computer science from Boston University.

Click here to read the interview with Desh Deshpande.

Jaishree Deshpande
You and your siblings are so well-educated and accomplished. What are the most important lessons that you learned from your parents?

The important lessons that I learned from my parents were: to lead a simple life; to have hunger to learn new things; and the importance of education. My parents led a simple life. Like any other Asian parents, they put a lot of emphasis on receiving good education. They were true role models. They taught us by example. I was especially close to my dad, who always taught me to do my best and not to worry about the results.
What are the most important lessons that you have taught your kids?

Every parent wants their kids to get the right values. Teach them by doing the right thing. They learn by observing how the parents react to different life situations and the choices that they make. So it is very important for the parents to be a good role model. If you do the right thing then there is a high probability the kids will pick up the right values by watching you.
You are also associated with so many charities. Which one is closest to your heart?

Akshya Patra is very close to my heart. Akshaya Patra provides freshly prepared nutritious mid day meals to 1.2 million kids across India every day. As a mother, I know food and education are the most important things mothers want for their children and Akshya Patra provides both.
How did you meet your husband?

Our mothers were friends. They met when they were in seventh grade. I was working in Bangalore when we met in an arranged marriage setting.
How tough was the decision to give up your job and stay home to take care of your kids?

It was not a tough decision. Startups take a lot of energy and time and I recognized that. I didn’t want to compromise the quality of life. I wanted Desh to go ahead with his startup. I decided to stay home and raise our kids. I volunteered a lot at the kid’s school and took up a job to teach computer science for a while.
You have mentioned that you love trekking. Tell us more about it. How do you prepare for it?

Our friend Mahesh Ganmukhi and his daughter Swati got me started with trekking to Mt. Everest Base Camp. I had just one month to prepare. So I did the best that I could do. I wanted to build endurance. So I started by walking five miles every day and carrying a back pack up the stairs from the basement to the attic. I have also trekked to Mt. Kailash and Mt. Manasarovar. I love to walk and pray and recite Shlokas in my mind and admire the beauty of nature when I walk.
What is your biggest strength?

Not knowing my weakness.
Do you have any regrets in your life?

No, none. Sometimes you may regret at a certain time but after a couple of years and with hindsight, you know that it was the right thing at that time. In any event, if you make a mistake then just learn from it and move on.
What has been your proudest moment in life?

Like any other Asian parent, we put a lot of value on education so seeing our sons graduate from MIT was a very proud moment.
What message do you have for our readers?

Follow your dream and dream big. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.
Her response to “Rapid-Fire Questions”:

Love is … Caring but I do love this quote too: “Love is blind and marriage is an eye opener.”
Money is … financial freedom
Fame is … You do a good job and it shows.
Secret of a good friendship … is trust.
Secret of a good marriage is … “A-R-T” — admiration, respect and trust.
Secret of being a good boss is … patience.
My best quality is … discipline and I am also very organized.
What I love most about my spouse is … he is very understanding and has a solution for every problem (though it may not work all the time).
What I would love to change about my spouse is … wish he was a better listener.
My favorite hobby is … it changes and I like doing projects. Right now it is quilting and knitting.
What relaxes me most is … watching movies.
My favorite song is … from the movie “Guide”: “Aaj phir jeene ki tammana hei.”
I also like “Mera juta hei Japani.”
My most favorite travel destination is … I like to visit new places every time.
My favorite movie is … “The Sound of Music.”
My most favorite quote is … “If you rest, you rust.”
My last word on Chai with Manju is … It was so much fun!

Every life has a story, share it with INDIA New England over “Chai with Manju,” an exciting, innovative and riveting series featuring interviews with some of the most interesting, active, accomplished, amusing and entertaining men and women. Conducting the new interview series is Dr. Manju Sheth, a well-known physician at Beverly Hospital and INDIA New England’s 2011 Woman of the Year. She is also president of Indian Medical Association of New England. Sheth leads and is involved with numerous professional groups, charities and advocacy organizations, and will be profiling people who have compelling stories to tell. If you or someone you know has a compelling story to tell, you may contact Sheth at or INDIA New England Editor Martin Desmarais at


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