MBA Jobs: A Duke MBA At Bank of America

by Lawrence Cole on

With an MBA from Duke’s Fuqua School, Bhavna Goyal was able to land a job with Bank of America’s Merrill Lynch

Twenty-nine-year-old Bhavna Goyal is a trailblazer in her own right. She excelled in her mechanical engineering studies at Indraprastha University in her native country of India. But as a woman, she was barred from many of the professional opportunities that existed in her chosen field.

Realizing the discrimination she would face, Bhavna pivoted into information technology and landed a job at Tata Consultancy Services, a well-known IT firm that is India’s third largest company. After four years at Tata, she joined the Class of 2010 at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. She used her MBA from Fuqua to successfully pull off a major career switch. Today, she is an assistant vice president in the New York City office of Bank of America/Merrill Lynch, the financial services division of BofA.

My Story

After graduating from college, I quickly realized that being a woman in India would shut a lot of doors in my face if I chose to pursue mechanical engineering professionally.  Knowing this, I segued into the technology filed in an attempt to bring an engineering perspective to projects geared at computerizing and modernizing previously existing technologies such as boilers and turbines while working for Tata Consultancy Services in India.

My job did not turn out the way that I imagined. Decisions were made at the very top of the company and rolled down to the rest of us.  I was the last woman on the totem pole.  Instead of using my brain and background to develop new innovation, I basically ended up coding small pieces of predetermined projects that I had no input on whatsoever.

That was about the time that I realized I needed an MBA.  Not only was I not interested in coding and developing software, but I wanted to have the opportunity to make a more far reaching impact. I wanted to gain a bigger picture perspective—a macroscopic view as opposed to the microscopic one that I had. I also wanted to be less tactical and more strategic in my work.

One thing that did turn out well for me, however, is that towards the second half of my tenure at Tata, I got the opportunity to work with financial clients such as the National Stock Exchange (the largest exchange in India) and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). The latter affording me the opportunity to live and work in Toronto for a year.

I quickly discovered that I enjoyed finance and developed an interest in working in the financial space. I was a career switcher and looked to an MBA as the appropriate next step in my professional trajectory. Ultimately, I was accepted to and chose the Duke University Fuqua School of business.

Duke Fuqua was my first choice for many reasons.  I loved the team-oriented atmosphere and the school’s focus on global expansion. I was also impressed with the way in which the school supported women. Nearly forty percent (40%) of my class—the Class of 2010—were women.

I was also offered a very attractive financial package. This was important to me because my family did not have the kind of money to be able to sponsor an education in the United States.

Duke has completely over delivered in terms of helping me to not only achieve but exceed my goals. My current position at work is so much better than I would have ever thought was possible for me—especially coming from a technical background rather than a finance background.

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  • Kevin Hartley

    Please file this under #whyisthisnews? Let me clarify. Living in India a majority of engineering graduates (be it in Mechanical, Chemical) pursue computer jobs because they are way more lucrative than other fields (I speak from personal experience and what I have seen in colleges over the last 15 years). Needless to say they are not doing anything innovative and spend their time maintaining computer databases (as she mentions). Barely mind stimulating! This is why the Indian applicant pool is over represented with men and women in IT backgrounds. The position the women takes in this article ” Ohh but I am a woman and this degree will not open doors” is hardly convincing. They very well know going in to college that they are going to pursue a position in IT irrespective of their majors. She is just playing the woman/minority stereotype and people in the west and just lapping it up. She is currently in the finance banking industry which is over represented by men. I wonder how and if the glass ceiling is any different from her preMBA role. I would love her honest insight on that, Now, that would be a good read

  • AmericanExile

    This is nothing personal against Ms. Goyal, but as an American, I would like to see domestic students get a first crack at many of these jobs. It seems there are more than a few unemployed domestic MBA grads from top schools who would be more than qualified. I’m not saying internationals shouldn’t get jobs here, but I’m worried that American companies aren’t putting Americans first. For good measure BoA was given tax-payer bailout money in 2008-2009. I can understand internationals working in industries such as healthcare (we do have a shortage of healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses, etc) and engineering (NASA or the human genome project). I can even understand the rationale for hiring talent in niche areas such as financial engineering. But I’m not sure I understand the logic when it comes to general finance and management and marketing. Surely, there are enough well qualified Americans (racially and ethnically diverse) with MBA degrees looking for those jobs.

    Furthermore, I would like to wish Ms. Goyal the best; this is nothing personal at all. I’m just deeply concerned about the direction my country is taking. Before anyone decides to attack me, think about the following: folks like Ms. Goyal can go back to her home country and look for good opportunities as a result of her education. But what are we Americans supposed to do? What’s our backup plan?

    Finally, let me reiterate that I fully believe in the values of lady liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor..your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ But before we take care of the rest of the world, let’s take care of our own.

  • Kevin Hartley

    Tell American businesses like Walmart, McDonalds, Coke, Frito Lays to get out of India and stop closing India’s small businesses. Now, that would be fair.

  • Philip

    Typical knee jerk reaction. The OP actually makes a good point. Seriously though, who do you think will lose more in the case of no trade – India or USA? Don’t make silly statements if you cannot back them up with facts. Do you think those call centers and IT sweatshops would run without American business? …And kevin hartley?? …is that your call center name? Think I spoke to you about the GPS is my BMW the other day..or might have been your cousin. I don’t know. Regardless, just telling me to reboot did not fix the issue.

  • AmericanExile

    Hi Kevin. I’m not sure I understand the issue you are raising here and Philip does not speak on my behalf. I wanted to make a point as politely as I possibly could. In any case, I do think you or your country (India in this case) should decide who you allow inside to do business. It’s not my job to police that. I certainly do think you shouldn’t let those businesses operate in your country if they are harming your local economy, environment, etc. But as I said earlier, I’m unaware of the specifics of this issue and I do apologize for this ignorance.

    I have my own theories about the military-industrial complex that has become the USA. So, I don’t begrudge your antipathy towards these big corporations. In addition to this, I should have put a disclaimer that I acknowledge USA hasn’t always fairly treated other countries and is far from perfect in its own right. But none of that changes the fact that I think my country should take care of its own before it does others.

  • Kevin Hartley

    Typical knee jerk reaction from the redneck camp. Not all Indian names are unpronounceable you moron. We have around 12% of the population who are Christians and we have Anglicized names. Learn some history next time before you call tech support on how to turn on your computer.

  • Kevin Hartley

    Yes, you make a valid point. Noted, sir

  • TA

    Vikram Pandit – ex CEO citibank
    Anshu Jain – CEO Deutshce bank
    Deven Sharma – Ex CEO standard and poor
    Rajat Gupta – Ex CEO Mckinsey and Co.
    Indra Nooyi – CEO Pepsico
    Nitin Nohria – Dean Harvard Business School
    Dipak Jain – Dean , INSEAD
    Sunil Kumar – Dean Booth School of Business
    Soumitra Dutta – Dean , Johnson School of Management
    Lashkmi Mittal – CEO Arcelor Mittal and Board of Directors , Goldman Sachs
    Ajit Jain -CEO Berkshire Hathway
    Nikesh Arora- Chief Business Office, Google
    Vic Gondutra – Senior VP, Engineering , Google
    Sridhar Ramaswamy -Senior VP, Engineering , Google
    Sanjay Jha – CEO , Motorola
    P Thiruvengadam – Senior Director , Deloitte

    Shantanu Narayan – CEO Adobe
    Harish Manwai – COO Unilever
    Ajay Banga – CEO Mastercard
    Padmasree Warrior – CTO , Cisco
    Sanjay Khosla – CEO , Worldwide, Kraft
    Manvinder Banga- CEO,Clayton, Dubilier and Rice

    Arun Sarin – Ex CEO Vodafone
    Rono Dutta – Ex CEO United Airlines
    Rakesh Gangwal – CEO , US Airways
    Sanjay Pandit – Managding Director, Manpower Group
    Krishna Srinivasan- President Frost and Sullivan

    and the list goes on and on and on…..these areAAA CXO level positions . I havent even started on Silicon Valley and the inexhaustive list of entreprenuers there,BIG 5 accounting , Asset management companies and Oil and Gas,…im not even gonna try and mention AA+ level positions , Engagement managers, partners etc etc in all the top finance , conusilting and F500 companies…..
    Suck it American Exile….take your politically correct loser ass and learn to fuck!@# compete…cause we’re coming for you….we ll take your jobs, cause we re smarter, cooler , stronger and just better tha you…we have emitional intelligence and raw brain horse power….You havenothing ..except your spoilt american asses that moan about “government” The Government doesnt do shit……the world runs on people who produce….
    Look at the no. of professors, endowed chair in the top b schools, law schools, medical schools , engineering schools…..to us education is what hip hop and baskteball are to african americans…its a way out…….so suck it you dumb spoilt brats…bank of america doesnt wanna hire you cause you SUCK>…..you get me??? they DONOT LIKE YOU THERE CAUSE YOU ARE FUCKIN STUPID…..
    and to top this all we have a country that is booming as a back up…
    and as for you PHILLIP….the less said the better….All i can call you is a loser

  • Hawks nation

    The problem here isn’t that she is an Indian, or Chinese, or any foreigner for that matter. It is that she is no different than at least 40% of all MBA students in any top business school.

    I am a strong believer that business schools are awash in students like her with zero business acumen prior to pursuing an MBA. As much as academia tries to push business education as a science, whether or not one moves up in a business world is more of a matter of his/her communication skills, relationship building and/or “street smarts”. I also believe that MBA makes an existing manager a better one, but it doesn’t make you one!

    My two cents…..

  • ta

    true that

  • Kevin Hartley

    Exactly! A Typical Indian IT engineer gets in to finance post MBA. What is so ‘Trailblazer’ about this?

  • theKomodo

    Lawrence and John, thank you for this story on a Duke MBA graduate. It’s refreshing to hear success stories of graduates from top 15 schools other than H/S/W. More please!

  • Nels

    Thank you so much for this article Lawrence and John! It was a wonderful, thought provoking read. I would like to see more of these MBA jobs articles from schools as Tepper, Tuck etc. P.S Also from H/S/W. it enlightens the readers with unique individual stories and outcomes. Keep up the good work :) Thanks :)

  • Harsh

    As an Indian, I’m quite embarrassed to read your post. It’s posts like these filled with hyper-nationalism that makes people like AmericanExile question someone like you (TA) that apparently thinks that “Americans have nothing” but yet wants to do everything possible to get a job here. This is nonsense. You talk about emotional intelligence, but after reading your posts, I’m going to conclude that you have none. I don’t agree with AmericanExile because I think ultimately more jobs will be created in the long-run when American trained talent is retained locally. It will be a net positive for America in the long-run. Instead of debating this issue meaningfully, you have really let yourself down. By the way – what is emotional intelligence? If you are unable to see the issue from his point of view, then what E.I do you really have? Plus, why are you painting with a broad brush? Do you think it’s fair when others paint a country of 1.2 billion (India) with a broad brush and with stereotypes?

    I hope your post is deleted by the moderator because it doesn’t help the Indian cause at all. In fact, reading you post, one will feel sympathetic with AmericanExile and you are only reinforcing his point of view. After all, why would he not protest you getting a job here when you have such an antagonistic view of his country.

    If you want to argue with AmericanExile – use points like the fact that one of the few issues both presidential candidates agreed on was giving green cards to foreign students who graduated in the STEM fields. The MBA isn’t in a STEM field, but it’s still a technical degree. Moreover, the truth is that the actual number of jobs that international students take up in this area is not that many in the context of the big picture of the US economy. Moreover, the OPT rules are quite stringent and many US companies do not sponsor H1Bs. Moreover, objectively speaking, head-to-head, other things being equal, the US candidate will usually get the job ahead of the international candidate. There are some exceptions, but in most cases it’s much harder for internationals to find a placement. So in essence, the market has already “priced-in” the domestic advantage for the American students. But that said, many companies hire international students that are well qualified because they are promoting a diverse environment shaped by different perspectives and life experiences. These companies are also looking for individuals who can speak multiple languages and help expand the business across the globe. It’s no longer the case that major companies have a China strategy or an India strategy or a Latin America strategy – these companies are looking at a global strategy as built into their core business strategy.

    But having said this, I do acknowledge AmericanExile’s concern about the negative effects of globalization. There are no easy answers to this. But I don’t think the solution is to close down borders and become isolated. The good news for AmericanExile is that US is the largest and most powerful economy in the world with the most number of high quality institutions for higher learning. Short of being born in countries like Norway, Denmark, or Luxemburg, an average American has a much greater advantage in the world than most. If an American happens to have an MBA from a top US school, then I think the sky is the only limit. He or she she should be focused on building great products and services and businesses, or helping further humanity by pursuing sustainable and environmentally sound solutions. I don’t think they should be (or will be) worried about some intentional students taking away their jobs. In fact, in my experience, most Americans (to their great credit) don’t differentiate along these lines, more so at the top programs. They are not caught up in this us vs. them fault lines that AmericanExile alludes to.

  • AIG_Quant

    boooring! First of all seeing that this was a non-HSW post I was excited to read about a true trailblazer, ie someone who really overcame adversity and made a huge impact on the community around her and now took on an exciting job that not only challenges her but makes the world a better place. But no… it was the typical boring IT applicant to an even more boring banker drone.

  • TA

    I’ve fortunately been fathered in by family so I haven’t had to deal with OPT and other such issues.

    The point is this. Good companies are known to hire the best person for the job . They have been doing so for very many years. That is critical to their success. Many many indians have come here as simple students like Ms Goyal and done very well for themselves and for their organizations.

    Now if a Hartley or a Bill or a Joe or a Bob has a problem with someone who holds a prestigious degree from a top 10 Business in a your own country …there is something wrong with him.

    In tech the proportion of international students is much higher. If they are really concerned about keeping jobs for Americans then americans should learn to compete. I am an American now and I compete. I work my butt off and compete.

    This elitist mentality that I was born here or naturalized here so now I wanna be pampered and spoon fed does not work anymore.

    The immigrants will take your lunch your dinner and your breakfast the next day.

    There are certain universal laws above public policy and immigration laws and sovereignity of countries and one of them is that you maybe smarter, you maybe luckier you maybe stronger but if you are not hungrier than your competitor you will lose. Eventually you will lose. So Hartley and Co need to stop blaming immigrants and start going after what they think they deserve. I’ve seen these kinda people time and again. Its one excuse or another its either immigrants or government or global warming or whoever the fuck knows what…..
    I think this story is facsinating….This is reality…this sotry is ground reality….not everyone is an olympian or a prep school princess ….question is can you in the limited constraints you have make a better life for your self usinga top b school as a platform and the answer is YES….and this is believe is more important than all the bullshit you been spitting out about globalization and what not…

  • avivalasvegas

    TA, you’re post is just as idiotic as any person’s with an extreme opinion and Im also embarrassed to read your post.
    The truth is that any country fears immigration, professional or otherwise. Its hard to look at foreign nationals as a source of net positive impact (especially with primates like you running around). I had the opportunity to spend my last 3 years in India – the recent influx of highly paid American and European expats have replicated the same reactions and feelings from the Indian equivalents of American Exile and Phillip.
    Its hard to acknowledge and accept that an economy is an evolved machine, where the best talent usually will find its way to fill a gap, regardless of the passport. Its harder when that talent has a different accent, skin color or background and you dont. India lacks top level strategic experience and so highly paid expats will flood there to thrive off its growth. The US lacks analytical expertise so there will be talent to fill that gap as well.
    The truth is I’ve never seen so many Americans visiting India and loving Indian food and culture as I do today. At my top ranked business school, we have India events where more American’s dance to Indian tracks than Indians do. This leads me to believe that for every person like American Exile, Philip and you, there will be more people like me who know that true progress comes when the best talent is matched to the best opportunity. That is what drives progress and innovation. Your views are the deadweights that slow the rest of us down. But its okay. We’ve carried you this far…and we’re only getting better at it :)

  • ta

    what you say does not contradict what i said….

  • km80

    The second half of the article is a pitch for the Duke program. If Duke could showcase someone who had clearly made adifference post MBA I would be mighty impressed. Duke has a strong conc. In Energy and sustainability. How about a story of a student who powered a rural area in
    a developing country using renewable and sustainable technology. How about he
    or she told us a story about how they used the Duke network contacted investors
    and how the course work at Duke played a hand. Now that would be a trail blazer
    of a story! IT to banking? Boring!

  • Rich

    P&Q showing love to Duke? Wow. I’m a long time reader here and have followed Mr. Byrne since his days at businessweek. I have noticed that he loves Tuck and gives it a lot of favorable coverage. Among the top schools, I have sensed that he ins’t a big fan of Duke. I might be wrong though. But good to see Duke get some love, even if this isn’t the most compelling / inspiring story.

  • bigred

    Finally some Duke love, even though the article could have been focused on a more impressive alum.

  • Kevin Hartley

    Before posting, it really helps if you can comprehend. I never brought up immigration anywhere in my original post. I did however point out the story was ordinary and nothing note worthy. Growing up in India and having lived there for 30 years (Read that again, you might have missed it, the first couple of times, yes I am Indian) I know how IT companies recruit and also understand why most graduates (from other engineering disciplines) gravitate towards IT jobs. The woman in the article puts IT in a negative light saying that she was the bottom of the totem pole. Unfortunately this might have been more due to her shy (introverted) personality, which is revealed on the second page of the article when she admits she failed to secure an internship at Duke. It is very clear you did not read the article or my comments. Instead, like a tard filled with hyper-nationalism (nice one, Harsh) you listed a handful of CEOs from a population over 1 billion. Big effin deal! I cannot believe you walk around in real life carrying this racial/ethnic insecurity, interactions with you must be a pure joy :) Or does hiding behind a keyboard make you a thug? Either way, I would suggest you get help.

    PS: You said “I think this story is facsinating(sic)” umm so IT Drone from TCS works in BOA in the finance sector post MBA. What about this is so fascinating? What makes her different from the 100s of IT graduates in post MBA finance roles. You know this has nothing to do with being Indian or immigration. Please enlighten me, I am listening.

  • guest

    India has had a woman prime minister and a woman president, something that even the US has not. Playing victim is a great way to get into bschool.

  • arjun

    Kevin, well said. I am astounded at the number of Indian women who routinely play the “I am a woman so I am discriminated in India” card nowadays. Especially in the workplace, they do the least work, refuse to pull late shifts, don’t want to take too much onto their plate, yet want disproportionate rewards and recognition. And if they are pretty, man – the amount of manipulation and trying to get colleagues to do their work..
    India is a weird case of an ancient society which has western concepts of “feminism” and similar stuff artificially grafted into it, as a result of which the end result is a hodge podge hybrid which is worse off in many ways than the original.

  • Sandman

    100% agree. Had a co-worker who essentially manipulated our boss into giving her a letter of recommendation that was filled with lies and deception. US b-schools need Indians in their admission committee to vet these applicants by understanding the Indian psyche and mentality and culture. These ad coms are all mostly feminist liberals and they fall for any story of women in India being discriminated against etc. I’m sure there are some legitimate stories. But they should be cautious because right now they (bschools) are being taken for ride.

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