Hemang explores the human condition

Hemang explores the human condition

Hemang Hirani has been offered a job with an investment bank – but is keeping his options open after a period that has seen him involved in volunteering ventures ranging from mentoring pupils at under-performing London schools to supporting poor cancer patients in Mumbai.

Hemang (OE 2008–2015), who was Senior Vice Captain at QE, is currently in the third year of his Geography degree at the LSE.

He spent the summer of 2017 as an intern in UBS’s Collateral and Margin Management Team, performing so well that he has been offered a place to return to the team on the bank’s 2018 Graduate Training Programme (GTP) in London. Hemang says: “I am still keeping my options open and considering undertaking further study, particularly in urban geography/spatial economics – two areas I have come to gain a strong interest in over the course of my undergraduate degree.”

His spell at UBS represents quite a contrast to the time he spent the previous summer with Impact Guru. This newly-founded organisation, akin to the UK’s JustGiving, describes itself as a “donation-based crowdfunding platform for Indians across the world to give back to their country”. Hemang spent just under two months in Mumbai as an intern for Impact Guru, during which his focus was on raising awareness about the plight of cancer sufferers and on actively running fundraising campaigns for patients, many of whom came from poor backgrounds. It involved him meeting several businesses to present them with proposals for sponsorship.

In a blog post for Impact Guru, Hemang recounted his experience of meeting cancer patients at the Tata Memorial Hospital in the Parel district of the city. There he found the families of poor patients struggling to cope with bureaucratic requirements (“Although I was able to understand what they were trying to say, my limited Hindi could not do them justice,”) and met cancer victims from outlying areas who automatically lose their right to accommodation after four to six weeks, regardless of the severity of their condition. “…Rather than helping, this exacerbates the state of many of the patients who are prone to so many other diseases from their poor living conditions – which only adds to the vicious cycle of deteriorating health.

“The reality of the situation was shocking. Coming from London, it was something I’d never experienced before in my life… these patients shouldn’t have to undergo such pain and suffering whilst tackling a life-threatening disease!”

On the positive side, Hemang’s visit did allow him to meet and network with a range of people and interns from all over the world, including the US, China, Philippines and the UAE.

Over the past two years, Hemang has also been consistently involved with the LSE’s Widening Participation team. “We are a chosen group of around 30 voluntary mentors who take out 2-3 hours weekly to meet students at various under-performing secondary schools in London. It has been really interesting, particularly as QE was quite the opposite, where we all tended to perform very well and had a clear drive to go to university and study further – something I noticed is very different for many of these students.”

Separately from this, Hemang has been assiduous in giving his time to help QE’s Sixth-Form geographers prepare for university entrance since he left the School himself.

Most recently, after his summer internship at UBS, he enjoyed a backpacking trip to Japan with a few friends, taking in Tokyo, Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Arashiyama.

And he adds: “I am still in touch with various OEs and we make a great effort to meet, particularly when the others are back in London. Despite us wanting to plan a trip together last summer, given various commitments and internships undertaken by a lot of us, we have decided to postpone this till the coming summer. Initial ideas have included a South America trekking trip and a rail trip across Northern India and Nepal.”