Being a Longhorn is About Making Things Happen: Q&A with Global Longhorn Alumnus Dhawal Doshi
- Apr 14, 2022
- Chris Smith
The University of Texas at Austin is a campus with worldwide connections, offering diverse opportunities that inspire students to become global citizens. A perfect example is alumnus Dhawal Doshi (B.A. ‘09), who came to campus in 2006 as an international student from India, already equipped with an interest in global issues.
Although unsure of his academic goals, Doshi was excited by the educational freedom at UT Austin, using it to branch out in his studies. He began studying Chinese, later traveling to Tsinghua University in Beijing for a May Term program. The language would become essential to his career.
Studying abroad piqued Doshi’s interest in international affairs, leading him to the Bridging Disciplines Global Studies program. Passionate and eager to learn, he co-authored a paper on China’s investment model in African nations, which he was invited to present at a conference in London. This experience drove him to explore other research projects, the findings of which he presented at the National Conference for Undergraduate Research and a conference hosted at Peking University.
After graduation, he continued to attend conferences while working in China, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam. He took his first job in Shanghai and worked in China for many years. Later he relocated to Jakarta, where he currently lives and works as head of research at Nirvana Wastu Pratama (NWP Retail), Indonesia's largest retail real estate platform.
Recently, Doshi spoke about his experiences at the 2021 Global Professional Training East and Southeast Asia Fall Career Panel. We asked him to share his story with other Longhorns.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments?
Living as a global citizen, as I had always dreamed, while maintaining firm roots and close relations with family and friends back home. I graduated from UT with several semesters of out-of-state-tuition waivers and scholarships, as well as study abroad research programs and a firm command of the Chinese language.
After completing my undergraduate degree, I relocated to China to find my first full-time employment. Now I’ve been in Indonesia more than six years after working in Vietnam and UAE, and I’m currently heading three divisions at a global real estate development joint-venture company.
I have lived and worked across four of the largest-populated countries in the world, traveled to almost 15 countries, experienced many cultures deeply, built meaningful personal and professional connections in different parts of the world, and learned three foreign languages—all without sacrificing time out of my educational or professional life, and all largely self-financed without any student loans.
What inspires you?
Building a career and supporting family, making progress on personal interests in international affairs and finding a meaningful way to contribute to wider society based on my knowledge and experience. I would like to spend time in the public service sector, supporting causes I feel connected with. I’m inspired to build my life in a way that balances all these things.
What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced in your career, and how have you overcome them?
Finding a meaningful career at the right place and time was the biggest challenge. As a liberal arts student, I graduated with a lot of skills and interests but without a specific profession in mind. I knew I wanted to live in China but didn’t really know what to look for and how.
Networking is something I would advise to overcome that challenge, along with trying different things, and doing rather than waiting for anything perfect to come along. I would advise taking calculated risks, which often involves leaving your comfort zone.
What opportunities did you have at UT Austin that helped you get to where you are today?
Studying at UT as an international student was a great opportunity that instilled in me immense confidence to pursue the life I live today. More specifically, support from professors in Liberal Arts, the Bridging Disciplines Program, and the Department of Asian Studies helped provide these opportunities.
In my four years at UT, I participated in two study abroad programs in Beijing, two international conferences in Beijing and London, one national conference in Washington, and more on campus. I co-founded the Liberal Arts Undergraduate Chapter for Research and worked with the Office of Undergraduate Studies to promote research opportunities for students. These diverse activities and interactions have helped me reach where I am today.
Is there a particular memory that stands out from your time on the Forty Acres?
My fondest memory is of the time I obtained a scholarship to travel to London with Dr. Catherine Boone to present our research paper at a closed-door conference. I wrote the entire proposal over a weekend; it was due on Monday, and I’d started writing that Saturday—just a day after I was made aware of the opportunity.
I got help from the Undergraduate Writing Center, revised my proposal and submitted it right on time, just before rushing off to my job at the RecSports tennis center! I remember waiting at the Quiznos opposite the UTC for the results to upload on the official website. I was very pleased when I was awarded that scholarship. It was the first proposal I had ever written.
When you look back on your time at UT, is there anything you didn’t do that you wish you had?
There are many things that I wish I had done, but didn’t. These include courses I wish I had taken and internship experiences I didn’t have time for. I ended up graduating without much knowledge about the career I wanted to pursue, finding myself unprepared despite being quite well qualified.
I also majorly regret not having applied for the UT in DC program. I had diligently planned and prepared, but didn’t apply due to other opportunities under consideration at that time.
You’ve traveled and lived all over the world. Tell us about your approach to navigating diverse cultures and exploring and appreciating a new place.
Since childhood, I’d dreamed of living in different countries. It’s something that comes quite naturally to me. I am excited at the thought of living in an unfamiliar place where no one really knows me.
It’s almost like solving a puzzle every time you live in a different country. From that place of the unknown, you find a profession, accommodation, colleagues, friends, hobbies and more, all while you don’t speak the native language! I approach it with a sense of wonder.
It never ceases to amaze me how people everywhere are so similar, and yet there are such divergences in cultures, mentality and way of life. There are always things which are uniquely good in every place I have been. Take an interest in the people and activities around you, participate in everyday life, think from the perspective of the host nation, and keep learning.
How do you stay connected to UT Austin?
Unfortunately, I haven’t returned to campus since graduating in 2009. But I remain in touch with alumni groups that have international representatives, and I contribute in any capacity I can. I have offered to mentor students, discussed education suggestions and campus developments with department representatives, and shared my professional and educational experience with current students at several events.
What does being a Longhorn mean to you?
That we are always ready to roll up our sleeves and go after what we want! To me, being a Longhorn is about making things happen.
What advice do you have for current and future UT students?
It’s never too early to get real-world experience through an internship or job. Use the time and resources provided by the university to network and pursue opportunities, even while you’re an undergraduate. Go talk to professors! And always study abroad when you can.