Parveen Minocha: Bringing the Dream of Gandhi to Life

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Parveen Minocha-WOY-swoy-outstanding-logoParveen Minocha is the current President of Ekal Vidyalaya’s New England Chapter. Under her leadership, the New England Chapter launched the Ekal Youth Leaders Program, EYL as the youth proudly call themselves. A committed team of Ekal NE volunteers has supported the success of numerous projects, giving the gift of education to one child, one school, and one village at a time, across rural India.

A gold medalist from the Faculty of Technology & Engineering of Baroda’s M.S. University, Minocha is the Software Development Manager at Oracle in Burlington, MA. Utilizing cutting edge technology, her team builds planning software for retailers. She strongly believes that digital technology will help Ekal further in its mission, to transform rural India with self-reliant villages and bring the dream of Mahatma Gandhi to life.

INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?  

Parveen Minocha: Oracle’s retail portfolio is known for its breadth, depth, and best of breed solutions. As Software Development Manager at Oracle’s Retail Business unit, my team builds the planning platform for retailers. We deliver critical insights to customers, help with all aspects of planning, and provide scalable solutions. My team is particularly focused on the front end development. While enjoying the use of cutting edge technology, we are challenged to deliver our best by practicing positive leadership. The key is to transform  negativity into an opportunity to flourish. I work with a very diverse team. We enjoy each other’s company, recognize everyday champs, and incorporate gratitude into our daily lives.

INE: To which charitable, community and professional group do you belong and why?

PM: I strongly believe in the power of education. Education is the singular force that can create positive change and help solve many world problems. My father’s education started with a single teacher school in the undivided India. That humble beginning laid the foundation of opportunities not only for his generation but also for my future. I volunteer for Ekal Vidyalaya, a non-profit organization that brings education to children across rural India, with its distinct ‘single teacher’ schools and an operating cost of $1/day.

Starting with basic literacy, it has now expanded to the holistic development of the villages. In my current role as President of the Ekal New England Chapter, I work closely with Ekal Leads and a team of volunteers to promote this cause. We are currently in 53,000 villages across India, and the goal is to double this number in the near future. We recently hosted the Ekal Power of Education Forum and the Ekal Annual Music Event. Both received overwhelming response from the New England community for which we are very grateful. EYL project ‘Samvedana – Tribute to a Guru’ was also a great hit.

INE: What are your hobbies and interests?  

PM: I end up spending a majority of my time with computers and other technological gadgets. To unwind, I do yard work, as it allows me to be close to nature. Last year, California dealt with the drought situation and many lawns were damaged. Therefore, on a recent visit to my brother-in-law’s family in San Jose, I offered to redesign their lawn. What looked like a daunting task became a beautiful project with each family member participating as per their skill level, spending quality time together. In a record time, we ended up with an accomplishment that we were all proud of. It was amusing to see their neighbors stopping by to take pictures of our cost effective design. Well, there were a half a dozen engineers and MBAs at work!

I take Hindustani music lessons, of course no singer by any means, but it helps relax my mind and re-energize my soul. I practice my singing or listen to audio-books during my commute, using my time more effectively. I find this a great way to de-stress about the traffic, plus I can sing aloud without bothering anyone!

INE:  In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field.

PM: I am extremely lucky to be part of an active and energetic Ekal team. Ranjani Saigal, the Executive Director of Ekal USA is a powerhouse herself. She constantly motivates us and together with our team of volunteers, we have been able to successfully execute several projects, which raise funds and awareness for Ekal. We’ve done a few pilot programs with digital technology. The EYL or Ekal Youth Leaders program was launched from the New England Chapter and has become a sensation. EYLs include six year olds through college students; in fact some of the ‘young at heart’ volunteers prefer the term ‘EYL’ for their energy and ideas. Our youth leaders have several brilliant ideas, which have been accomplished with guidance from the senior leads. This year the Ekal Writing Contest became a national event, urging children across the country to participate so that another child can have the opportunity to read and write. If we’ve motivated our youth toward the cause of education, then the future is already more secure.

At work, I’ve been instrumental in working seamlessly with US and India teams. We’ve been able to manage round-the-clock support while also heavily involved in new development, bringing retail solutions to cloud. A strong proponent of positive leadership, I try to lead by example. We’ve brought a culture change at the office, creating a healthy daily work environment.

INE: Your rare talent?

PM: Not sure if I would call it a rare talent, but I do like writing poetry. I am inspired by everyday heroes, ordinary-looking people doing extraordinary deeds.  I have written poems for teammates and projects at work, team motto, “Together we win, together we grow,” as well as for family, friends, and passionate Ekal leads. In addition, my poems include plea for Ekal’s mission because the cause is close to my heart.

INE: Your favorite books?  

PM: Positive Leadership by Kim Cameron – a rather untraditional philosophy for the corporate world to operate in, cultivating positive environments, relationships, and communication to achieve spectacular results.

10% Happier by Dan Harris – an effect of war on humans, a man’s journey to find his own belief, and a road to recovery for inner peace and happiness through meditation.

INE: Your favorite quotes?

PM: Sanskrit shlokas are full of wisdom, my favorite one on education is:

“SarvaSamsayoChhedi, ParoksharthasyaDarsakam

SarvasyaLochanamShastram, YasyaNastiAndhaivaSaha.”

which means –

Education helps us solve problems and helps us see beyond the horizon,

Education gives us vision without which we are blind.

Other quotes:

“Light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

And, “What better ROI for your dollar than giving education to a child for $1/day!” – Anu Chitrapu on Ekal

INE: Who inspires you the most?

PM: My parents.

They were both very young when India got its independence. As their families tried to settle after partition, pursuing education was the focus. My dad became the first Electrical & Mechanical Engineer in the community and later retired from Indian Railways as a top rank officer. Mom was a school teacher and had to give up her career to raise her family. Hard working and happy with what they have, my parents have taught my siblings and I two very important things: to be your own ‘vidhaata’ or ‘creator’ and to be compassionate to others.

INE: Your core value you try to live by?  

PM: Staying positive, using some patience and a lot of perseverance.



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