2016 Best MBAs: Siddharth Astir, Babson

Siddharth Astir Babson

Siddharth Astir


Babson College

“Babson does not have a shortage of ideas, but few students so effectively take action as Sid did while an MBA student in our two-year program. He identified the needs of our students—access to programming, low-cost yet high caliber opportunities, and effective promotion of new initiatives and campus traditions.”

Age: 28

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Education: Bachelors of Engineering, Thapar University, Patiala, Punjab, India.

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Siemens Ltd., India and P.K.Astir & Co., India

Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? VaynerMedia, New York

Where will you be working after graduation? VaynerMedia, New York or P.K. Astir & Co., India

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Executive Vice President, Graduate Student Council

President, Design Thinking Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?  The proudest moment for me was when I pulled off a campus-wide event thereby helping various parties involved. RECESS (national pitch competition) and Babson were trying to build a relationship for a long time. And I, with the help of a few other MBAs, was able to bring RECESS to Babson for the first ever student-run forum with a networking fair, speaker series, and a pitch competition. The winners of the pitch competition were given the opportunity to pitch at the RECESS Field Trip in LA to investors like Mark Cuban, Tim Draper, etc. Leading the event and working with various stakeholders to ensure its success on a tight timeline, helped me grow as an individual. Babson and RECESS benefitted from this relationship and are doing another event in April 2016. The winning teams got exposure to investors that they might not have had access to otherwise.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The proudest moment of my professional career was when I successfully grew my company’s (P.K.Astir & Co.) revenue by more than 100% in less than 2 years of taking the reins.

Here, I applied my previously-acquired marketing and engineering skills at Siemens and tried to reorganize the company structure. I actively involved myself with the business, learned its strengths and gaps, and restructured the coding for inventory management system, as well as various fabrics and designs.

Assigning different codes for different parts of the warehouses helped in reducing the time required to locate specific products. This made cross-functional coordination efficient and reduced the inventory by 10% in less than one year. Different design coding for different designs and makes of products helped the customers to identify the products easily along with the content ratios of nylon, cotton, rayon or polyester. Systemized coding has reduced customer order errors by 90% and the delivery time and labor required by more than 50%. Apart from the enhanced credibility, it also helped us to cater to a broader range of customers that were initially unapproachable.

All these efforts, when combined, helped us achieve 20% increase in sales in less than one year. The end result was that from working with local manufacturers and traders, we start working with big Brands like Lucky, Zara, Forever21, and DKNY.

Who is your favorite professor? Michael May because the learning and discussions in class are relevant to all walks of life. His expansive experience in the Consulting industry and the challenges faced while leading Accenture Strategy were blended so nicely into the course that they have stuck with us forever. Be it interviews, negotiations or even conversations, the concept of Peerism (or arriving at the table as an equal) has been the most helpful learning in life through negotiations, interviews and conversations when meeting new people.

Favorite MBA Courses? Management Consulting for the same reasons as above.

Why did you choose this business school? Babson has ranked #1 in entrepreneurship for the last 23 years and there is a very strong reason for that. All faculty at Babson have either run or are currently running a business. The insights you get from professors’ real life experiences are the best learning experiences. Unlike most business schools, Babson students are very collaborative and are always willing to go out of their way to help a fellow student. The resources like Blank Center (entrepreneurship) and Cutler Center (investment and finance) are very unique, and making full use of these can kick-start every MBA’s journey to success. Making full use of these resources helped me kick start my idea, Cleanzy, through the Rocket Pitch event at Babson.

What did you enjoy most about business school? The Best part of my MBA experience has been the ability to take risks. I have completely transformed as a person and that was only possible because we were in an environment that rewards where taking risks and trying new things. Goiong from being and introvert and risk averse individual to the Executive Vice President of Graduate Student Council has been the most interesting journey. The politics of being in the Student Council, the creativity experienced while being the president of the Design Thinking Club, and the adrenaline rush while successfully executing full-day events have changed me completely as a human being and prepared me for the real life scenario.

My best experience was building a centralized Calendar for Babson Graduate students. Listening to feedback from students and understanding the need for having a central resource to see all that’s happening at Babson, I decided to develop a solution that would be helpful to all students. After months of student interviews, focus groups and secondary research, I, along with the President of the Undergraduate School, proposed a Centralized Google Calendar with Babson wherein various departments can add their events and the students can see it in their Google calendar itself. We achieved an adoption rate of over 80% amongst graduate students. Additionally, I have received multiple emails from college departments asking how they can replicate this process or add their events to our student calendar. All this has proven the success and sustenance of this initiative.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? The biggest lesson I gained from B-School is from my failure. My startup, Cleanzy, was nominated in November 2014 as one of the top 10 Startups to Look Forward To in 2015. The initial buzz around my product was very good and I started working on building a prototype. However, I soon had a lot of doubts about the feasibility of the technology. The doubts clouded my mind and to date I have not been able to develop the complete prototype. The biggest learning here is that execution is everything. From a top-10 startup to a dormant startup, Cleanzy has made me realize the value of execution and now I have learned the value of the word ‘Action’ in Babson’s most important fundamentals – ET&A (Entrepreneurial Thought and Action).

What was the most surprising thing about business school? The most surprising thing about business school for me is high level of collaboration. I always thought that top MBA schools would be very competitive and the cut-throat. However, at Babson, they are looking for opportunities to collaborate within and also outside Babson. The Entrepreneurial spirit at Babson, and with so many Entrepreneurs around you, makes you see the world differently. The belief that people have in themselves and the trust they show in their peers helps in building a strong network and lifelong relationships.

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 Babson. Put yourself in an uncomfortable position and let your personality take over. The learning from failures is the best, and Babson encourages smart failure. Whenever we are trying to do something, it is important to do your research/homework before you give it all. A very famous quote that I have learned to live by is – “Only those who work, make mistakes.” So never worry about making a mistake, as long as your learn from it. Time management would be very important at B-School and I have learned the art after coming to Babson. Juggling responsibilities with the Graduate Student Council, Design Thinking Club, VaynerMedia and Babson India Symposium has helped me become organized and realize the limits to which we can stretch ourselves everyday.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was leading a $1 million business and needed to expand it to a greater scale. I felt that I needed to learn certain skillsets to be able to execute on the expansion plans.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a professional soccer player in the English Premier League.”

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Gary Vaynerchuk – Working with a 40 under 40 CEO for the last one-year has changed the way I do many things in life. His philosophy of giving value before asking for anything in return has really changed the way I interact with people around me.

What are your long-term professional goals? Post MBA, in the short term, I plan to focus on my development as an Individual. With Gary Vaynerchuk as a mentor while working for VaynerMedia, I look forward to establishing myself in the advertising industry and helping in the brand recognition of Babson as well.

In the long term, I intend return to my family business where I strive to expand the business on the global level (starting with the South Asian market, wherein my company would be the most sought after and trusted brand for all knitted fabric orders generated there). It would involve catering to orders from the best export and buying houses in South Asia. The learning from my expansion in this market will equip me with the right approach towards expanding in to the unexplored markets all over the world. My vision is to venture into garment manufacturing for the international market, by associating with leading brands simultaneously launching our own fashion line.

The ultimate goal is to build the brand ‘Astir’ worldwide just as today, in India, the word ‘Astir’ is synonymous with quality lace products being one of the first in the industry. This would involve learning the best quality assurance measures adopted worldwide, along with the quality standards present in each country. Also, it would require us to build a strong foundation in manufacturing to ensure timely deliveries along with a knowledgeable logistical network to prevent unnecessary delays and ensure cost effectiveness. All these would require the backing of effective brand management.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? The backbone to my success is my parents. My mother has been the visionary who wants me to achieve the impossible and I have tested my limits only because she believed I could. My father has been supportive from the very beginning of my career, be it at Siemens or at P.K.Astir & Co. He allowed me to take the reigns of the Family business when I had not proven myself. The trust and belief they have in me is the biggest motivator for me to achieve everything I have at Babson and beyond.

Fun fact about yourself: I write inspirational quotes, with over 100 published quotes on Quotes.net. My Favorite being: “ Everyone has a fingerprint, not to distinguish oneself, but to give us an equal opportunity to leave our mark on this world”.

Favorite book: Rich Dad, Poor Dad

Favorite movie: Inception

Favorite musical performer: Robin Schulz

Favorite television show: House of Cards

Favorite vacation spot: I love travelling – Most recent is Costa Rica because of Spring Break.

Hobbies? Playing Soccer, Writing, Listening to music, reading about random facts on the Internet, Try new adventure sports, Following the English Premier League, Formula1, ATP grand slams and Cricket.

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

“Sid’s initiative and thoughtful engagement with the college, peers, and staff/faculty has had an undeniably positive impact on campus life. Babson does not have a shortage of ideas, but few students so effectively take action as Sid did while an MBA student in our two-year program. He identified the needs of our students—access to programming, low-cost yet high caliber opportunities, and effective promotion of new initiatives and campus traditions.

Sid brought in the pitch competition RECESS to campus, which supported two Babson startups moving forward to the national competition. He is a founder of the first Babson India Symposium and is a strong influencer among the student leadership team, guided the group to deliver an event with more than three hundred attendees and fourteen speakers. He is also the Co-President of our Design Thinking Club, which is one of our top student organizations in terms of attendance, events, and effectiveness on campus through offerings like a Design Sprint Challenge with executives from Luxottica. As a member of the Graduate Student Council, this role has been a conduit for Sid to foster Babson traditions and leave them stronger that he found them.

Sid is leaving a lasting impression on Babson and his peers. He is a model student who is leaving a legacy with the college, and I have no doubt that Sid will continue to be an extraordinary person throughout his career.” — Chuck Collins, Associate Director, Graduate Student Affairs, Babson College


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