Smith School of Business at Queen’s University
Hometown: Karnataka, India
Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Engineering (B.Eng.) with a specialization in Telecommunications from PES University in Bangalore, India
Where did you work before enrolling in business school? I was working with IBM India within the consulting wing, Global Business Services, as a Data Specialist, where I was creating and implementing analytical models for our clients based on their business needs. Before that, I was working with Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) in India as the head of a Student Research Team where I created a unique system to track the position of the sun from any location on the Earth to maximize the amount of electricity generated from solar energy.
Where did you intern during the summer of 2015? The summer of 2015 was a very interesting and challenging time for me because I was pursuing a second degree, a Master in Management Analytics (MMA), in addition to my full-time MBA. At this time, I was also working part-time with Rogers Communications, a large media and communications organization, in Toronto as a consultant. I worked closely with the senior leadership team to design, develop, and implement a new pilot project that would infuse data-driven decision-making into the culture of the organization.
Where will you be working after graduation? I am currently working with IBM Canada in Toronto as a senior adviser in technical sales within our Analytics Division. I work with our clients to help them make smarter data-driven business decisions by leveraging the value of analytics and cognitive computing.
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Within the first few weeks of starting business school, I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of focus on how data was influencing business, so I pitched the idea of creating a new Business Analytics Club to my classmates and faculty and I was voted in to be the president of the club. I felt that analytics was changing the way we did business across a variety of industries and I wanted my fellow classmates to be prepared with the necessary skills to embrace this change once they went back to work in their respective industries.
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I wanted the Business Analytics Club to be a collaboration between academia and the corporate world, so in order to make this happen, we partnered with IBM Canada to create a Business Value with Analytics case competition specifically designed for business students and opened it up to all programs within the business school. The results were absolutely fantastic and students had the opportunity to present their innovative ideas to senior executives from the industry. Since this was such a success, we are expanding it to a National Level Business Analytics competition across Canada in 2016. I’m very proud to be a part of the founding team because this initiative created a perfect environment in which executives and students were thinking together to solve some of most pressing business challenges.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? My biggest achievement, to date, is successfully completing two intensive master’s degrees, MBA and Master in Management Analytics (MMA), simultaneously in two different cities, Kingston and Toronto, in under 16 months. I’m very proud of this because I was the very first individual at the school of business to pursue two master’s degrees at the same time. A lot of people say that spotting opportunities is the key to success. While that is an important first step, I believe the far more crucial aspect is the ability to act on these opportunities. Now that people know it’s possible to do this, I’m very happy that there is significant interest in the dual-degree program.
Who is your favorite professor? My favorite professor was Yuri Levin. He taught us a couple of courses on Analytical Decision Making and Dynamic Pricing. His ability and enthusiasm to simplify the most complex business problems taught me a very important lesson: Every problem or situation can be broken down into simple building blocks. We need to address the issues with the building blocks rather than solving surface-level problems. I’m confident that this skill will play a huge role in my career going forward.
Favorite MBA Courses? Economics, Analytical Decision Making, Change Management, Organizational Behavior
Why did you choose this business school? There were a few reasons. First, I was looking for a school that had a relatively small class size for individualized attention and offered a true team-based approach to learning, as I wanted to build on my team skills. Second, I wanted the program to have a practical component where I would be able to apply some of the concepts I have learned in dealing with real-world business problems. Third, the alumni network had to be strong. To my surprise, Queen’s not only has a fantastic network, but also the alumni are very helpful and will take time out of their busy schedules to help in any way they can. I have asked many different Queen’s alumni for coffee chats, resume reviews, and mock interviews and I have never been turned down even once.
Lastly, Queen’s was one of the only business schools in the world that offered students the ability to pursue two masters degrees simultaneously.
What did you enjoy most about business school? Learning from my peers. Queen’s does a fantastic job of bringing in people with very diverse backgrounds and skillsets, and viewing the world through their lenses has taught me many invaluable lessons that will help me grow, both personally and professionally.
What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? The biggest lesson for me was that, if you have a vision then there are truly no limits to what can be achieved. Many times, it is our preconceived notions and not a particular situation that limits us. One of the things I consistently do even today is to push myself to be even better tomorrow. I would recommend that you try it out as well; you might be surprised at what you can achieve.
What was the most surprising thing about business school? The fact that it was such a collaborative environment where individuals were helping each other learn and grow. Frankly, I thought that it would be very competitive.
What was the hardest part of business school? I think it was not having all the answers. I have a fairly quantitative background and so I’m very used to always having the right answer. What I’ve realized in business school is that it’s not so much about the answer, it’s about asking the right questions. This was an invaluable experience and truly helped me understand what one of my mentors meant when he said, “Get comfortable being uncomfortable.”
What’s your best advice to an applicant to your school? Make sure that you really want to work in a team environment.
“I knew I wanted to go to business school when… I was about nine or 10 years old and I got my first suit as a gift, I would wear it and walk all around the building pretending that I was the CEO of a large organization. It’s funny how an action as simple as that one can drive ambition.”
“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be… struggling to run to my own organization.”
Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Elon Musk. I admire him because he always has the bigger picture in mind and he truly believes in himself and his ideas. The best part is that he is forever curious and is constantly improving himself and his organizations. These are all attributes I can relate to.
What are your long-term professional goals? I enjoy responsibility and my long-term goal is to make a difference in the world by being the youngest CEO of a large Fortune 500 organization.
Who would you most want to thank for your success? I want to thank my parents and my brother who have always been there for me, constantly supporting me through all my challenges. In addition, I would like to thank my fiancée who has been a constant source of motivation. She has played an instrumental role in making all this happen — and the interesting part is that she is now pursuing the same dual degree at Queen’s, and I get to support her.
Fun fact about yourself: I was the company sergeant major (CSM) for the National Cadet Corps (NCC) in India.
Favorite book: Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance? By Louis V. Gerstner Jr.
Favorite movie: Inception
Favorite musical performer: Imagine Dragons
Favorite television show: “Breaking Bad”
Favorite vacation spot: Sydney, Australia
Hobbies? Reading, travelling, playing football (soccer) and cricket, watching documentaries
What made Shashank such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?
“Shashank has an amazing attitude. He is very bright and gregarious, as well as kind and inclusive. Everyone in the class wanted to be friends with Shashank — his smile was infectious.
“I was impressed by the initiative, leadership, and dedication Shashank showed in launching a new student club in business analytics. He was also one of the founding members of the IBM Business Values with Analytics case competition. Additionally, Shashank was the first student to undertake the new Queen’s double-degree option — MBA and Master of Analytics. This proved to be a winning combination for him during on-campus recruiting when he landed a job in analytics with IBM Canada. The youngest member of the Class of 2016, Shashank went on to be among the highest paid!”
Shai Dubey, Director
Queen’s MBA and Distinguished Faculty Fellow of Business Law
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