2016 Best MBAs: Dipika Sawhney, Cambridge Judge

DipikaSawhney-PoetsAndQuants-BestandBrightestClassof2016Dipika Sawhney

Cambridge Judge Business School

“I want to create and run a social-retail platform that could help rural entrepreneurs back home in India. I have been a journalist and travelled to some of the remotest riot-torn, militant affected and poor regions of India. I have also volunteered extensively for over seven years, working with some of the most marginalised sections of society and have witnessed and appreciate the difference that self-employment can make for people in these areas.”

Age: 33

Hometown: Pune, India

Education: Pune University, STEM, First Class Engineering degree in Computers Science

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Fosho, Chief Creative officer and co-founding member

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015?The Cambridge MBA is one-year program and we started in the fall. In the summer of 2015, I left work early and travelled across the Italian countryside and Scottish islands.

At the moment, I am working with L’Oréal Uk (as a part of our Global consulting project).

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon, UK as a Senior Manager within their Retail Leadership Program.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Awarded the highest bursary for leadership potential
  • President of the Women’s Leadership Initiative
  • President of the Retail Club
  • Leadership series speaker events student interviewer and school blogger
  • Mentor for social startups at Cambridge Social innovation incubator

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am the only MBA from my class who has been elected to lead two different clubs (Retail and Women Leadership Initiative), this is an achievement that I am proud of as it reflects the trust and belief my class has in me.

The fact that I have been able to make the transition from being the co-creator of two very successful, award-winning retail start-ups in the UK, to being a Cambridge MBA candidate who is able to excel at studies, to being a mum of two little girls, as well as lead clubs and contribute to the Cambridge Judge Business School community is something I am proud of.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? To raise the first $1.5 million for my first start-up, FlatClub, from investors in London was not easy and this is an achievement I am proud of. It was a challenge because I had no previous experience or expertise in this particular sector, country or even with start-ups.

To be able to implement an idea, prove its success with numbers, bring on board the initial customers and close deals and then go about winning awards and raising the first series of funding was tough and exciting and an accomplishment I am very proud of.

Favorite MBA Courses? Corporate Finance and Negotiations.

Why did you choose this business school? MBAs here believe that the way forward to success is to collaborate and not compete. The culture of the school and its ethos fits my beliefs.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Learning from amazing cohort — people with diverse cultural and professional backgrounds — innovators, social entrepreneurs and future CEOs who are brilliant and talented, yet friendly.

What was the hardest part of business school? Choosing how to spend your time is one of the hardest decisions you have to make at business school. Studies, sports, societies and social life are all very attractive, but to prioritise what you want to get out of your time (and stick to that plan) can be hard. Expect hours of classes, with brilliant, engaging lecturers and a set of smart, brilliant and well-read colleagues, and then facing the dilemma of which school clubs, recruitment events, skill-enhancing workshops, lectures, social events, sport activities, debates and competitions would you like to devote your time to is tricky.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Be yourself, be confident, and please be original. Your application is read by real people so please be interesting and answer questions honestly. The stereotypical MBA applicant story is often not true.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I saw how my friends who went to top business schools benefited from the social and professional networks they created. Also, the luxury of taking out so time relatively early in my career to study, learn and re-equip my skills sounded fantastic.”

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…still building an early-stage businesses and volunteering as a mentor for social entrepreneurs.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Anita Lucia Roddick: an original entrepreneur who could build socially-conscious, profitable firms from scratch.

What are your long-term professional goals? I want to create and run a social-retail platform that could help rural entrepreneurs back home in India. I have been a journalist and travelled to some of the remotest riot-torn, militant affected and poor regions of India. I have also volunteered extensively for over seven years, working with some of the most marginalised sections of society and have witnessed and appreciate the difference that self-employment can make for people in these areas.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My amazing, inspirational parents, my superstar husband and chatty little girls for their support, patience and the occasional kick in the butt.

Fun fact about yourself: I am professionally trained in 5 different classical Indian dances and teach fun yoga+dance workouts.

Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone with the Wind

Favorite movie: American Gangster, Love Story and The Godfather

Favorite musical performer:

Favourite band: Metallica
Favourite artist: Adele (for her sheer energy)

Favorite television show:  I have been watching Sherlock; it’s funny and thrilling. A great adaption of the original stories.

Favorite vacation spot: Leh. Its surreal, peaceful and an amazing place to plan a bike trip to.

Hobbies? Yoga and Swimming

What made Dipika such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Dipika is an extremely active member of the 2015/16 cohort, embracing the many opportunities there are to develop personally and professionally, at the same time as bringing up a young family. She consistently demonstrates how to leverage the opportunities that the Cambridge MBA has to offer, tackling unique challenges such as interviewing two of the female CEOS from our Leadership in Action series for podcasts.

Dipika has demonstrated excellent leadership skills in co-chairing the Women’s Leadership Initiative, a student-led group, which forms a large part of the School’s marketing efforts in recruiting women. She is also a considerate and collaborative team member – fundamental values of the Cambridge MBA – and has regularly shared her experience through the Cambridge MBA blog.

Dipika brings a much needed and unique perspective to the MBA and we value her contribution immensely.” — Carla Keen, MBA Marketing and Communications Coordinator, University of Cambridge, Judge Business School

DON’T MISS: CLASS OF 2016: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST GRADUATING MBAS