2015 Best MBAs: Kanika Chopra

Kanika_Chopra - Rochester-PoetsAndQuants

Kanika Chopra


University of Rochester, Simon Business School

Described as a “role model,” Chopra was the heart-and-soul of this year’s MBA class at Simon. She started a buddy program where second-year MBAs take incoming students under their wings to help them adjust to the rigors of Simon’s program. As the president of the student council, she also shepherded initiatives like Campus Bolt, a more robust course as well as a professor evaluation platform. For her efforts, Chopra received the Dean’s Leadership Award and the Community Builder Award in 2014.

Age: 27

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Undergraduate School: Gargi College, University of Delhi

Undergraduate Degree: Bachelor of Commerce (Hons)

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Ernst & Young, New Delhi, India

Where did you intern during the summer of 2014? Citigroup, New York City

Where will you be working after graduation? Citigroup, New York City – Financial Leadership Development Program – Financial Management Associate

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I realized that it was time to move to the next level. In order to do that, it was important to fix the gaps in my skill set. I always wanted to do an MBA. However, once I completed my Chartered Accountancy (equivalent to AICPA certification), I started working with Ernst & Young. After about four years in different assignments, I felt that it was time to move to a new role. I wanted to get into corporate finance and was aware that I need to have a holistic understanding of the business environment. And that’s when I took the decision for doing an MBA.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…working with a consultancy in New Delhi, India maybe in a corporate taxation role. When [I was]with Ernst & Young, I had an opportunity to manage the taxation division for Bain & Company in Kenya. That would have required me to shift on secondment for a minimum period of 6 months. Except that, I believe I would have had my roots in India.”

What are your long-term professional goals? I see myself working in corporate finance. Now after my experience with Citigroup, I would like to be in the financial services industry. I did like the culture at Citigroup a lot and hence, definitely see myself working with them in the near future. On a side note, in the long term (when means allow), I would like to set up an educational institution.

Favorite Courses: Cases in Finance, Macroeconomics, Advanced Business Modeling, International Economics and Finance

Which academic or professional achievements are you most proud of? My summer internship at Citigroup has been one of my proud achievements in the recent years. I was working on an Investment Optimization Project at the corporate level. In a short period of three months, I made an impact on the team and left something that would be used to complete the project in the coming months. I designed the database and the training module and trained the support team in Mumbai, India. I was rated the best amongst my fellow interns and my team mentioned that I have been the most productive in comparison to all the summer interns that the team has had before. I was given the rating of exceeding expectations. I really look forward to this experience of a financial rotational program.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I think I do owe my success to my experience at my previous organization, Ernst & Young. The multinational corporate environment, team and client interactions honed my skills in team building, strategizing and client management. The experience helped me well to set my goals at Simon and then at Citigroup.

Why did you choose this business school? I finalized my decision for Simon Business School when I visited for the Simon Scholarship Weekend before acceptance. The collegial, amicable environment with focus on teamwork and diversity appealed the most to me. I knew it was a small school with a class size of about 100-150 students. I appreciated that as it would give me a chance to build my real network by not just recognizing my classmates but really getting to know them.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The experience with my classmates has really been the most exciting part of the MBA. There is diversity not only in the nationality or gender, but professional, educational backgrounds, and extracurricular activities as well. There is so much to learn from the interactions in a team setting. The same helped me perform better at Citigroup as well. In a personal setting, the interactions have helped me gain a global cultural perspective. I believe that I have built relationships for life here.

What is your most memorable moment from business school? My experience of serving as the President of the Student Council has been the experience that I am going to remember always. It was a great way to be involved with the school and help my classmates. I learned a lot about prioritization, team building, and working with peers. The top three projects that we worked on were the following: Implementation of Campus Bolt – A course and professor evaluation platform; Revival of the Feedback system – one of the projects to build a culture of open communication; and a Day 1 Program with the career management center, a shift of a lot of pre-work for job search as a part of admission checklist

It feels good to see that it is something that would be with the School even when I am not here and that the students appreciate it.

Fun fact about yourself: Sudoku Champion at a national level (India)

Favorite book: The Time of my Life by Cecilia Ahern, The Incredible Banker by Ravi Subramanium,

Favorite movie: National Treasure series, Ratatouille and many more that I can’t recall right now.

Favorite musical performer: Jason Mraz

Favorite television show: White Collar

Favorite vacation spot: New Zealand

What are your hobbies? Reading, Traveling, Clay Modeling, Dancing

What made Kanika such an invaluable addition to the class of 2015?

“If you are looking for a good role model for those considering graduate degree programs, a career success story, and a positive example of the benefits of being in an MBA program—then Simon Business School’s Kanika Chopra is your person.

Kanika is one of the most effective student leaders with whom I have ever worked. She is hard-working, demanding of herself and others, and a positive influence on the School, her classmates, faculty, and administration. Kanika is a high-energy but very personable leader. She is a highly organized thinker and can visualize where we need to be and how to get there. Part of what makes her so successful is her ability to focus, understand and communicate her priorities, and then execute with a clear eye on the goal.

It is interesting to see Kanika in action. She is relentless at advocating for positive change, and she does it in such a way that you are inspired to work with her. She is excellent at building relationships and partnerships. Even when communicating negative (“constructive”) feedback she does so convincingly that you can’t help but to agree with her point of view. She is a tireless advocate for the students at Simon and for improvements that will live long after her class has moved on.

It does not surprise me in the least that Kanika wants to start a school some time in the future. Knowing Kanika as I do, I have no doubt that she will succeed in making this happen. That is the essence of Kanika—selfless, enterprising, always thinking of her next move, inevitably a move that will benefit those around her.”

– Karen Dowd, assistant dean, Career Management & Corporate Engagement

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