University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School
Hometown: Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India
Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Madras, B.Sc. Nautical Science
Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Merchant Marine Officer with Shell and Maersk
Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, Parsippany, N.J.
Where will you be working after graduation? Tata Consultancy Services, Digital Strategy Manager, Chicago
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Dean’s Fellow; recipient of Core Value Award for Teamwork; recipient of Class of 1990 fellowship for exhibiting exemplary leadership and academic achievements; elected as president of the MBA Student Association
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During my tenure as the MBA Student Association president, I had decided to put special emphasis on greater representation and visibility for diversity at business school. Along with the budget committee, we approved higher allocation to the Diversity Clubs and through multiple efforts involving other student leaders and diversity students. At the end of my tenure, I can say we have made real progress. This year among the elected students, many are international students — U.S. minorities, women, and most notably students from the LGBT community. While I am very proud of some academic achievements, this improvement in the visibility of our diverse student body is my most impactful achievement during business school.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During one of our voyages, the ship’s senior officers had decided to carry out maintenance on loaded cargo tanks carrying 2 million barrels of crude oil. As a team leader, I decided to perform extra safety checks since this maintenance was unusual. Even in the face of resistance from senior officers, I decided to delay the task for the safety checks to be performed. Upon checking we found that the air mixture in the tanks was in the flammable range and this maintenance could have resulted in multiple explosions, risking life, property, and the environment. I consider this the most important achievement of my professional career thus far.
Who is your favorite professor? Professor Jan-Benedict Steenkamp is my favorite professor. He taught us Global Marketing, and under his guidance I got an opportunity to co-author a case study on the biggest jewelry brand in India — Tanishq.
Favorite MBA Courses? Global Marketing, Sales, Improvisation, Innovation Management, and Pricing
Why did you choose this business school? When I first visited UNC Kenan-Flagler, the extremely helpful and tight-knit community of students, professors, and staff left a strong impression. After two more visits, I knew this was the environment I would thrive in. The students I met were willing to go out of their way to help another student, even a prospective student. The professors I met were very approachable and genuinely loved working with students.
What did you enjoy most about business school? When I took charge as the president of MBA Student Association, it had been recently registered as a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization by the previous leadership. Working with advisers in nonprofit management, the school administration, and the university’s legal services, I was able to transform it into a more robust nonprofit with a sustainable structure. The process to do so was very challenging, given that I had no prior knowledge of nonprofit management, but it has been equally rewarding. It was a very similar experience to starting your own organization. This will certainly help me start my own venture in the future.
What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? The culture of an organization is one of the biggest contributors to its success. Finding the right cultural fit is very important to be able to thrive and succeed.
What was the most surprising thing about business school? I was pleasantly surprised to see how my classmates were willing to help each other in academics, career, and with leadership opportunities. Especially once a classmate landed their dream job or internship, they devoted all their energy into helping other students secure their dream job.
What was the hardest part of business school? The hardest part was to choose the right opportunities and overcoming the “fear of missing out.” Being involved in just the right amount of activities was a hard balance to achieve.
What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Candidates should take the time to visit the schools they apply to, especially UNC Kenan-Flagler. It is only when you visit and experience the culture firsthand that you can know whether the institution is a good fit for you or not.
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… on a long voyage navigating a super tanker, I realized that I need to make more impact in the world we live in, and business school is the only transformational course that would give me strong long-term opportunities to do so.”
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… running a small to mid-size business.”
Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? I admire Verghese Kurien. He was a social entrepreneur who transformed India from being a milk importer to being the world’s largest milk producer. He formed a co-operative dairy ecosystem and helped lift millions out of poverty and malnourishment.
What are your long-term professional goals? The long-term professional goal is to have a portfolio of small business interests, and a nonprofit in the education sector to help lift families out of poverty.
Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank the UNC Kenan-Flagler community, as without their belief in me and their support through every step, I wouldn’t have had the transformational experience that I had during my MBA program.
Fun fact about yourself: While sailing near the Somalian waters, I have encountered pirate skiffs, but due to the dark night no attempt was made to board the ship.
Favorite book: The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits by C.K. Prahalad
Favorite movie: 12 Angry Men
Favorite musical performer: Bob Marley
Favorite television show: BBC’s “Planet Earth”
Favorite vacation spot: Eastern Himachal Pradesh in the Himalayas
Hobbies? Long-distance motorcycle traveling
What made Ravi such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?
“Walking down the busy hallways at UNC Kenan-Flagler, Ravi has a greeting for all of the students, faculty, and staff he meets. As president of the MBA Student Association (MBASA), he has made it his top priority to know all of the student body, faculty, and staff and communicate with as many of them as possible so that he can best be serving the MBA community.
“Being originally from India, Ravi has a greater understanding of the issues facing international students than prior MBASA presidents. He worked closely with the International Business Association and with staff and faculty to create a program titled We Mean Business. This program involved two sessions where second-year international and domestic students helped set first-year international students up for success in the MBA program and in their career search process. The group then held a session for domestic students addressing similar topics. This new program was a huge success and now will be an annual offering in the early fall for new students.
“Ravi and his administration also focused on how to handle the financial reporting responsibilities and governance issues facing MBASA’s recent transition to a nonprofit. This meant creating an advisory board of staff, faculty, and alumni for the MBASA. It also meant working with CPAs in the class and club leaders to ensure that the proper paperwork was being filed — arduous but essential steps, and Ravi did a great job keeping his team on track.
“Ravi took on these initiatives in addition to the typical responsibilities of an MBASA president of ensuring that all 40 clubs are accomplishing their goals and maintaining constant communication with the MBA program office in pursuit of higher student engagement and satisfaction. Ravi is a true servant leader who is dedicated to improving the experience of others — and he does it all with a smile on his face.”
Sridhar Balasubramanian (Dr. B)
Associate Dean of the MBA Program
University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School
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