Gaining and Sharing Inspiration with McCombs Alum Raj Mahale
When Raj R. Mahale first arrived at The University of Texas at Austin (UT), he did not intend to leave campus with a degree from the McCombs School of Business. In fact, it was something he hadn’t even considered during his first few days as a freshman.
For Mahale, who always figured he would become a doctor due to his family’s encouragement, a single chance encounter with the founder of one of the world’s biggest technology companies changed the course of his entire future.
But before that moment, he always knew he had dreams that stretched across the entire globe.
Becoming a global citizen
As a child, Mahale’s family moved around before settling in Georgetown, Texas, just 20 miles north of Austin. “My family and I lived in Chicago, then Dallas, and then back to Chicago until we moved to Austin in 1979,” he says.
In high school, Mahale excelled in academics and sports, but he found a true calling as a “global citizen” when he joined the debate team and Model UN. “I’ve always been fascinated by world affairs and how countries perform in business relationships, policies and the law,” he says. “As an only child of South Asian parents, I thought it was my duty to familiarize myself with not only my home country, but also how other nations operate.”
When Mahale started studying biology as a UT freshman in 1988, he quickly found that his heart just wasn’t in his coursework. “I felt like I was missing something,” he says. “It was that spark that I felt in high school participating in Model UN and learning what it meant to be a global citizen.”
Making a crucial course correction
Everything changed for Mahale after an encounter with a young upstart in the technology industry named Michael Dell.
“It was not long after his company went public,” Mahale recalls. “After hearing him speak and meeting with him briefly after, I knew I wanted to change my major to a dual degree in international business and political science. Meeting him was a big revelatory moment for me.”
Mahale found his fascination develop as he progressed through coursework in international trade, global entrepreneurship, business ethics, law, and global marketing. Towards the end of his sophomore year, he gained real-world experience by working as a clerk at a law firm, where he stayed until his senior year.
After earning his dual degree in international business and political science, Mahale embarked on a role in management training at Ford Motors before he ventured to the East Coast to take up law at Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, Connecticut.
Building a global career
To date, Mahale has spent nearly two decades as a corporate attorney advising businesses around the world, specifically in India, Southeast Asia, China and the Middle East. He has worked as a partner for several New York-based firms such as Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, Tannenbaum Helpern Syracuse & Hirschtritt LLP and served as a chair of Cozen O’Connor’s India Practice Group
“I’ve had a very fortunate career thus far,” Mahale says. “I’ve worked for some pretty great companies, and I’ve lent my expertise to emerging markets and structuring mergers and acquisitions, private equity, and venture capital transactions.”
When Mahale isn’t working out of his New York office as a partner at KPPB Law, a boutique Atlanta-based law firm, he often travels to India, Southeast Asia, China, the Middle East and Europe for business ventures. “It’s been incredible to see the development of Dubai and other areas in the Middle East,” he notes. “They are bringing the best business practices from all over the world.”
In addition to his professional legal affiliations, Mahale is a member of the U.S.-India Business Council, a member of the executive committee of The IndUS Entrepreneurs, and a provider of pro bono legal counsel.
Sharing the inspiration
These days, Mahale is passionate about helping prospective students get into college and discover their passions. “I’ve spent the last 20 years getting involved with UT and McCombs, going back for visits, and mentoring my cousins and friends in the hopes that they find what they truly want to do in their careers,” he says.
As an advisory board member at the Center for Global Business, Mahale is eager to grow enrollment in the international business program, which he describes as “an end–to–end marquee program, where a student should receive mentorship from the first day they set foot on campus to when they graduate and are in search of internship and career opportunities.”
“At the Center, there are a lot of opportunities to develop yourself as an international business professional, and there’s an esteemed global network to establish international connections,” he adds.
From being inspired by one of the world’s most prolific technology entrepreneurs to serving as a source of inspiration for today’s students, it’s safe to say that Mahale has come full circle in his role as a global citizen within the UT and McCombs communities.