From undergraduate work in business administration in India, Gokul Mandayam has come a long way. He knew he was a “people person”; early training taught him skills and an understanding of the corporate mindset. “I wanted to straddle both my interest in the business world and my passion for working with people,” he said.
His decades of experience include working with the World Bank, as an Arizona state senate intern, and in corporate roles (where, through research, he helped put a face on human behavior). Eventually finding his way to social work education, Mandayam has come to focus his practice on macro, systems, and also diverse societies and individuals—acceptance and inclusion.
He’s taught in California (USC) and in the Middle East (United Arab Emirates University). “I’ve learned to throw away stereotypes, and go into every culture with a clean slate. That helps you absorb the nuances—you might not like everything, but you are in someone else’s land,” he said. “Even though people may grow up differently, with different value systems, we’re the same—we have hearts, brains, physical selves.”
Mandayam’s upcoming book, on social entrepreneurship and social innovation for social work practice, is, he said, “the fruits of my labor around this interdisciplinary thinking.” With that he adds, he’s grateful to the school for this new position.