Akash Raje is a 2022-2023 Fellow. Akash grew up in Farmington Hills, MI and Midlothian, VA, then went on to University of Virginia to earn a Bachelor of Arts in African American & African Studies.
Tell us about your host company and your role in the organization.
My host company is Autonomic, a subsidiary of Ford Smart Mobility and the architect of the Transportation Mobility Cloud (TMC), the leading API platform for connected vehicles. The TMC allows developers to rapidly create applications that unlock the future of mobility with uses such as fleet management, vehicle commands, over the air updates, and more.
It just so happened that I acquired two jobs at Autonomic, first, operations manager and second, marketing coordinator shortly afterwards. As operations manager, my job is to make sure the employees at Au are happy. This typically entails curating music over the office Sonos sound system (here’s a sound sample), facilitating regular corporate functions like onboarding/offboarding, and supporting a robust company culture.
As marketing coordinator, my role is to build our portfolio of marketing materials to grow awareness of our product, people, and services. This has primarily taken the form of a company podcast, for which I am writer, host, and sound engineer, designed to connect our people across our offices worldwide. I’ve also been tasked with developing additional B2B marketing materials, such as blog posts and infographics.
Tell us about the challenge project you’re currently working on; what are you learning from the experience?
We just finished our second challenge project, working alongside the Marygrove Conservancy to reenvision Marygrove as a community campus for arts and culture. I’ve learned a great deal and am most grateful for the opportunity to build the space anew, a process that captures the ethos of Detroit so beautifully for me. I hope our work together leads to Marygrove becoming a hub for the neighborhoods in the area. I hope my team’s work specifically, synthesizing interview responses of community culture bearers, leads to conditions that allow Detroit’s arts to thrive.
How do you hope to impact the community as a Fellow?
All I really hope for is that I was able to meet a need of someone here somehow. Being a product of Metro Detroit and having to move away when I was a kid, I felt a calling to return to this city. It was where my parents built their American life together. However, just showing up wasn’t enough. I had to figure out how my skill set could contribute to some real positive change. I hope that this journey I’m on inspires others like me to intentionally give back to the city that has given so much to us and to the world.
What are you most looking forward to as a Fellow this year?
I’m most looking forward to being immersed in people again. The pandemic was rough, separating us from our people, isolating us. I personally thrive in group environments like this fellowship, so I’m looking forward to being in loving community with others again.
Please share the most memorable moment you have experienced so far as a Fellow. Why was it memorable and how has it impacted you?
My most memorable moment so far is hearing from Martin, one of the groundskeepers and operations managers at Marygrove. He’d been taking care of that space for over 30 years. The way he spoke about the campus and his work there, I hope I’m able to achieve that level of dedication and care in my lifetime.
If someone is reading this and considering applying to be a Fellow, share why you would encourage them to apply?
The Fellowship provided me with an opportunity to tap into a new industry. If you asked me five years ago if I thought I’d be working in tech, I probably would have laughed and proceeded to read some postcolonial theory or something. I’m still reading theory, but now I’m doing it with a more grounded, results-driven approach. I thank the Fellowship for putting me in an environment to realize this change. Ye said it best in jeen-yuhs act iii. “We only got a hundred years here. So we gotta go after it, while it’s our time!”