Bhagyashree Gandhi Deshpande is an alumna of the FLAME, graduating with a PGDM in Human Resource Management (HRM). After brief corporate stints, she opted to pursue her passion in a social entrepreneur's role, joining Abhyudaya Global Village School as Director (Academics).
Abhyudaya Global Village School is an eco-centric & agro-centric school near Nagpur, Maharashtra, providing quality education to children at an impressionable age. Started in 2010, the school works with a vision to build a generation of self-reliant agri-preneurs and active decision-makers of the rural economy.
Looking back at her corporate career, Bhagyashree is grateful for the many good and not-so-good experiences because they all came relatively early in her career, shaping her personality, work ethic, and aspirations. Whatever she faced in those years made her decision of leaving and taking up her current role a convincing one. The gap between who she was and what she had to bring to her corporate functions was getting wider as days passed. She says, "I had to wear different masks and put up very artificially, which was against my true natural self." It was a choice between suffocation and satisfaction for her.
Now, she provides high-quality education to children from rural India, trains them in sustainable agricultural practices, prepares them to be agri-preneurs, and, more importantly, complete human beings. Abhyudaya Global Village school was established in 2010 with 28 children and two teachers. Currently, there are around 335 children in the school with a remarkable gender ratio of almost 1:1. The students are picked and dropped from 19 villages within 20kms around the school's farm.
Bhagyashree believes that the existing education system focuses on academic subjects, and there is a big disconnect between education and real life. More so, in rural India, where agriculture and entrepreneurship need a unique focus and attention within school education, this will help restore the deserving respect and pride for agriculture. This is the motivating force for Bhagyashree and the school. The school works towards providing young children exposure to both traditional and cutting-edge yet eco-friendly agricultural methodologies that can help them understand that agriculture is much more than just farming, covering value-adding and cooperation. The curriculum thus focuses on the need to demonstrate a positive and replicable model of agriculture to the students.
Her grounding in HRM comes into play in Bhagyashree's current role. She says she can understand people better thanks to her HRM training. People not just in her team but people in villages and their children. She can lead all these important stakeholders better while empowering them to become leaders themselves.
Bhagyashree traces some of her current aspirations back to what she learned at FLAME, especially the non-academic aspects. She recalls an ELRI - Explorations in Life Roles and Identity course by Prof. Indira Parikh that was particularly inspirational. This course made her understand herself better and gave her the first lessons in self-awareness. Besides this, the environment at FLAME, including the learning spaces, made her understand the deeper realms within her. She thanks Mr. Parag Shah, Prof. Shingi, and Prof. Suniti Wadalkar for giving her significant yet subtle lessons for life. She understood the beauty in solitude, and her journey of valuing the more minor things in life started right from the FLAME campus.
The country and the world need more people like Bhagyashree, who work literally and figuratively at the grassroots to create a better tomorrow for those who need it the most.