ATLANTA — Deepak Raghavan (MBA ’98, Ph.D. ’09) remembers sitting at his desk nearly 20 years ago, looking down at his calendar and realizing his schedule was full of meetings.
At that moment, after more than a decade of working 80-plus hours per week to build a successful business, he decided it was time for a change.
“I realized my entire week was full of meetings and about half of the meetings were scheduled to discuss other meetings,” Raghavan said. “That’s when I thought to myself, ‘I want to do something different.’”
Raghavan had grown up fascinated by astronomer Carl Sagan’s ability to evoke a sense of wonder about our universe and the possibilities of life beyond Earth.
“Astronomers are like detectives,” Raghavan said. “They piece together various clues to better understand our time and place in the universe. Why are we here, how did we get here, what’s the ultimate fate?
“I look into the night sky and see so many stars and I just wonder, ‘How many of those stars have planets and who’s looking back at us?’”
Raghavan, who had earned an executive MBA at Georgia State in 1998, returned to work on a Ph.D. so he could pursue those questions. Now, Raghavan is teaching the next crop of inquiring minds as a professor of practice in the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy, giving back to the department where he got his doctorate.
“I love seeing my students get that lightbulb moment. That’s what I live for,” Raghavan said. “When I work with a student who has been struggling with a certain area and all of a sudden they get it, those are the most gratifying moments.”
Raghavan’s work as a successful businessman, his philanthropic support for Georgia State and his dedication to teaching have won him recognition as a 2022 Georgia State Distinguished Alumni Award honoree.
In the first major chapter of his career, in 1990, Raghavan co-founded Manhattan Associates Inc., a distribution and supply chain management software company.
After a successful initial public offering in 1998, he left full-time employment at Manhattan Associates to begin his studies in astronomy. Raghavan is president of his family’s foundation, which focuses on education, animal conservation and children’s health care. He is a past chair of the Georgia State Foundation Board of Trustees, and he currently serves on the boards of Manhattan Associates, Woodward Academy, Zoo Atlanta, the Atlanta Police Foundation and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.
He has also supported programs to help students at Georgia State. His family foundation has established two endowments at the College of Arts & Sciences. One supports the dean’s strategic initiatives and has enabled nearly 60 students to return to college and complete a bachelor’s degree though the Come Back, Pounce Forward program. The other endowment helps selected students gain astronomy research experience during the summer through the Raghavan Fellowship program.
Sebastien Lepine, chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, said Raghavan is one of the department’s most dedicated instructors. Students often show up to Raghavan’s office to ask questions or get tutoring, and Raghavan often attends research presentations and dissertation defenses by undergraduate and graduate students in the department, Lepine said.
“He always shows great interest in our students’ work and will often come up with a challenging or thought-provoking question,” Lepine said. “Dr. Raghavan really contributes to the academic life of the department, and we are lucky to count him as one of ours.”
Raghavan is deeply grateful to be recognized among Georgia State’s Distinguished Alumni.
“I feel extremely fortunate to have had the journey that I’ve had,” Raghavan said. “Life is all about the journey. The more you focus on doing the right thing, the more satisfied and successful you will be.”
For details about the Oct. 28 celebration or to purchase tickets, visit alumni.gsu.edu/daa/.
— Photo by Raven Schley