November 19, 2020
Raghav Maheshwari is a Tech Lead at Duet, and is a key member of the software engineering team. He has done some incredible work here at Duet, so let’s look at what makes him such a valuable member of the engineering department.
Raghav Maheshwari was born in Switzerland, and although he has studied internationally and has parents that are both from India, he still considers Switzerland to be home. He was an engineering student at USC, and has continued his passion for engineering in two e-commerce positions at companies Honey and Square. Currently, Raghav is living with his older brother in San Francisco where he enjoys cooking, walking, and playing video games with his brother.
Raghav maintainins and develops our website and back-end services, while being a liaison with the product design team and supporting the work of other engineers at Duet.
“I have always had a passion for social impact and believe that if I can use all that I have learned in engineering for social good, then why wouldn’t I? I have come to recognize the complications in the tech industry where there is a large disconnect between the products that we as engineers make and the communities we say we are building these products for. It is an incredibly humbling experience to be able to work at a company like Duet that combats this disconnect.”
Through his trips to Lesvos, Greece, Raghav became aware and often sad about the injustices happening in the world that nobody knows about. The refugee crisis is just one of these many problems. He also says “It has shown me that it’s possible to make tangible differences in the lives of other people that are affected.” Raghav believes that the solution to inaction is to take the first step.
I asked Raghav, “What does ‘rebuilding lives’ mean to you?” and he began to outline the importance of understanding the refugee experience in its entirety. Many often forget that a refugee has to endure the pain and suffering of their lives in their home country, make the crucial decision to leave, go through the perilous journey to a new place, and then start from scratch in an unfamiliar place. “All familiarity in your life is taken away from you in an instant due to external factors that are not in your hands.” He says that many often forget this part of finding refuge. Once they have found their new ‘home’, they must learn a completely new way of life. “Most people think about a refugee getting from point A to point B. They don't think about when they finally get to safety and honing in on that rebuilding process that people often leave out.”
As a core team member, Raghav has been a part of Duet almost since the beginning. Some of his favorite memories come from his very first trips to Lesvos. Looking around the island and exploring the donation system that existed, many of Duet’s core team got a firsthand look at the inefficiencies that come with large donations of impractical products. This was their first time applying the work they had put into Duet thus far. They were there to make a measurable impact, so they were determined to get it right.
“The first successful item pickup was a complete waiting game. The item code that we had given the store clerk was just written on a piece of paper, but nonetheless it worked! We got the confirmation text from the refugee family that picked up their diapers and were overjoyed. They included a photo of their baby girl next to the diapers to confirm that they had picked up their donated item. That photo gave us all a ton of confidence and was the evidence that proved we really could make an impact.”
The next year, Raghav went back to Lesvos and was able to meet with one of the families that had been there from the start. A young man had requested a laptop earlier that year and had since been using it to learn English and find a job to support him and his family.
“I remember the last time I saw Faramarz a year ago that he was so timid in the fact that he didn’t know any english. I was shocked that there was this new bright and joyful man with almost fluent English standing in front of me!”
(Right to Left: Faramarz, Lucas Hu, Raghav Maheshwari)
Raghav was invited to Faramarz’ home to have tea with him and his family. “In the house, I noticed the items that had been listed on the website that I had personally been working on. I specifically remembered processing the request for a kettle, and was now being served tea from the item that was once just an image on the website I was working on. It was the most rewarding experience I have had at Duet, but I’m so happy knowing that I will continue to have many more.”