2017 MBAs To Watch: Pratik Gupta, UCLA (Anderson)

Pratik Gupta

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

Age: 30

Hometown: Kota, Rajasthan (India)

Undergraduate School and Degree: Indian Institute of Technology (IIT Madras); B.Tech in Civil Engineering, Minor: Business Management

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

Flextronics – Assistant Manager, Advanced Analytics

Capital One – Operations Analyst

EduNetworking – Co-founder

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? Amazon – Pathways Operations Manager

Where will you be working after graduation? Microsoft – Operations Program Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Featured in Poets and Quants to represent UCLA Anderson’s incoming class of 2017
  • Dean’s Scholar List (top 10% of class based on GPA)
  • Student Investment Fund Fellowship
  • President, International Business Association
  • VP of Education, Strategy and Operations Management Association
  • VP of Events, South Asian Business Association
  • Riordan MBA Fellows Programs Mentor
  • International Career Coach for Operations
  • Assistant Coordinator for Business Analytics Program

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The extracurricular achievement I am most proud of was organizing, planning, and leading the International Food Festival (IFF) at UCLA. IFF is one of the largest student-run events on campus that showcases, celebrates and embraces the international culture and diversity of UCLA Anderson. It was an amazing experience as we worked for over three months and collaborated with all the identity clubs on the campus, engaged school administration, and successfully overcame unforeseen circumstances. We revamped the event organization structure from ground up to address the challenges faced last year, reduced our expenses by 25%, and leveraged the platform to connect with Anderson’s alumni base. From early morning deliveries to late night discussions with the team, it was truly a unique experience where I witnessed the spirit of Anderson come alive. Finally, IFF was attended by over 200 students, featured cuisines from over 15 countries, and most importantly, was successful in facilitating cultural exchange between Anderson community.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Leaving a legacy is always a defining part of how I assess my impact on anything I’m involved with. Therefore, when I got an opportunity to set-up analytics division for Flextronics, I grabbed it with both hands. It was a very challenging opportunity where I worked with 30 manufacturing sites and 8 cross-functional teams, honed my passion for technology, and led many initiatives. I ideated best practices and value-adds to provide value to our customers, which led to significant financial savings and enhanced efficiency of operations. The most satisfying component of the project was transitioning an instinct-based decision- making process to data-based decision-making and helping individuals learn the nuances of data analytics, a driving force in today’s business world. While the process was tedious, and required constant feedback and redevelopment, I am proud of the array of tools and frameworks I developed for different groups within the company.

Who is your favorite professor? It’s a very tough choice given the quality of professors at UCLA Anderson, but I would say Professor Terry Kramer stood out to me because the learning and discussions in class are relevant to all walks of life. His expansive experience in the technology industry and the challenges faced while leading U.S. Delegation on International Telecommunications were blended nicely into the course, exposing us to the challenges related to both private and public sector. Be it guest speakers, case discussions, news articles, or even conversations, I feel more confident in my ability to predict, identify, and lead technological disruptions.

Favorite MBA Courses? Technology Management, Corporate Financial Reporting, Business Law, Global Supply Chain Management

Why did you choose this business school? The decision to attend UCLA was a no-brainer. I wanted to be in a driven yet collaborative environment and the school’s culture really resonated with me. Going back to school is an investment and I wanted to ensure I’d have a meaningful experience, not a transactional one. The three core qualities – ‘Share Success’, ‘Drive Change’ and ‘Think Fearlessly’ are exemplified by students, day in and day out. I am challenged at Anderson to think beyond the bottom line and find solutions to benefit the greater good, something that is incredibly important to me. Last, being in the heart of entrepreneurial hub gave me access to upcoming technologies, revolutionary ideas and forward thinkers that evolved my way of observing new events.

What did you enjoy most about business school? It is one thing to say your program values diversity, but it is another to proclaim your program embraces it. My classmates never cease to amaze me and I feel so lucky to have had the privilege of working with such a diverse and impressive group of peers. The intimate size and dynamics of the Anderson community served as a platform for me to truly learn from my classmates and their experiences. I’ve enjoyed getting to know people from all over the globe and learning about new cultures. For instance, I traveled to Japan, led by five of my Japanese classmates. The opportunity to travel with them to their home country and experience a slice of their life was indeed a special experience.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? MBA experience has been a transformational experience for me in terms of developing my ability to take risks. It was only possible because we were in an environment that rewards taking risks and trying new things. Moving away from corporate environment and accepting an internship in a shop-floor environment, pursuing entrepreneurial idea with a very motivated team, and the adrenaline rush while successfully executing full-day events have changed me completely as a human being and prepared me for real-life scenarios.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? Flexibility. I created my own path and everyone supported me along the way. When I arrived at school, I wanted to pursue a career in consulting. As I began recruiting and reviewing various job descriptions, I realized my true desire was to continue along a career in Operations, pursuing operational excellence in supply chain management and process improvement. It was seamless. I could do what sounded and felt right to me. I did not feel like I was checking off boxes or following a prescribed path.

What was the hardest part of business school? Doing justice to your family. I came to Los Angeles with my spouse and MBA schedule made it hard for me to spend time with her. We had an idea that this would happen, but still experiencing the long periods of time when I would see her for only a few minutes in a day was tough.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? My best advice to an applicant to my school is to explore your limits at UCLA Anderson. Put yourself in an uncomfortable position and let your personality take over. The learnings from failures are the best gift you can give yourself, and Anderson encourages smart failure. Whenever you are trying to do something, it is important to do your research and homework before you give it all.

I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I realized that many of the business leaders that I admired had gone to business school and they discussed the network and education being pivotal to their careers. My parents have always emphasized the importance of education, so my initial interest started even earlier.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…leading a tech-start up in India.”

 Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? The first and easiest answer is my brother, not only for his success but because of how he overcame the challenges in life and charted his path with perseverance and integrity. After him, I would say Warren Buffet for his ability and courage to take contrarian positions, his patience and long-term view, and for his acknowledgement of luck needed, in addition to hard work, to get him to where he is today.

What are your long-term professional goals? My dream is to run my own venture capital firm where I invest exclusively in startups focusing on education in emerging nations. I believe that very few startups have been able to solve the economics of an education landscape and education remains the single most effective tool to empower individuals. I would love to spend every day making a positive impact on this issue.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I’d like to thank my family who instilled a strong sense of purpose in me, which pushes me to do good each and every day. They’ve made a lot of sacrifices over the years to enable me to be where I am today. I would not be here without the motivation of my grandparents, who passed away before I started my MBA. Lastly, I want to thank my wife, Mrigaya. She left her career and a part of her life back in India and moved with me to help me achieve what I wanted to. She’s the most supportive person I have ever known and her unconditional love has led me to take risks and challenge.

Fun fact about yourself: I make jokes when I am comfortable. And did I mention, I do stand-up comedy.

Favorite book: The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Favorite movie: Taxi Driver

Favorite musical performer: David Gilmour, Pink Floyd

Favorite television show: Black Mirror

Favorite vacation spot: Osaka, Japan

Hobbies? Playing Bridge, following Cricket and reading anything under the sun.

What made Pratik such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“Pratik has been such a valuable member of our community because he goes beyond his normal environment to engage all members of the Anderson community. As a student from India, it would be very easy for him to find a support base of students with similar backgrounds, but instead he chose to lead at Anderson by connecting all of our international students with each other and to our domestic students as well. We had such a successful International Food Festival event that brought together our international students displaying foods from their native lands with our domestic students who represented clubs like Anderson Wine, Craft Beer, and Out@Anderson. He has also led discussions with Senior Deans on how to better connect all international clubs through the International Business Association, the club of which he currently serves as President.  Just as importantly, he has given back to the Anderson community by serving as a mentor, a coach, and an advisor.  We are more connected as a school because of Pratik.”

Gary Fraser
Assistant Dean, Full Time Student Affairs
UCLA Anderson

 

DON’T MISS: MBAS TO WATCH: THE STORIES OF 100 EXTRAORDINARY GRADUATES FROM THE CLASS OF 2017