Meet Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Class Of 2018


Rajat Gupta

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Witty, sarcastic and frequent use New Delhi slangs.  It’s a recipe for a laughter riot.

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I once bumped into the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a park in Montreal while hanging out with my friends. I didn’t realize that he was a famous political figure and asked him to take a picture of the group while he thought that we wanted a picture with him. Talk about awkward moments in life!

Undergraduate School and Major:

VIT University

Electronics and Communication Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Deloitte – Business Technology Analyst (2012 – 2015)

Deloitte – Consultant (2015 – 2016)

Independent pro-bono consultant for small enterprises and NGOs (2013 – 2015)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment was a pro bono consulting project that I did for a small business. It was a family business centered around retailing music equipment. As with traditional family businesses, the employees had been performing similar tasks during their tenure with minimal opportunity to revamp or develop new skills. The business was on the verge of collapse and the livelihood of around 30 people was at stake since job search for such employees is harder than you’d think. The company was losing government contracts, which were the main source of sales. I helped them analyze their past quotation prices and build a model that would compare and account for the prices quoted by their competition in the past. The model helped them identify the right quotation price and win contracts without taking a very strong hit on their margins.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants?

On applying to schools: Spend more time on your story and apply to a broad range of schools. Rankings are a good place to start, but should not be your final criteria. Also, applying to multiple schools helps because you don’t know if what you have to offer matches what the school is looking for. Be yourself!

On recommendations: Give your recommenders ample time. They are busy people and, more often than not, writing recommendations for multiple candidates. (I know of a friend whose recommender got confused and wrote the wrong name in the letter). Save emails from them which highlight your contributions and use that as ammo when talking to your recommenders about your past contributions. Invite them for open discussions rather than formal meetings to explain your career aspirations.

On connecting with the school: Communicate with both current students, professors, MBA Office staff and administration to learn more about the school. You will be surprised to learn the things the school has to offer, which sometimes even the current students don’t know about. Research schools well and highlight that in your application – make the school feel special. (Will you ever tell a girl that she is a rebound in case it doesn’t work out with the other one?)

On results: Results are really sporadic. You will get accepted to some schools and you will get rejected by others —and that is okay. If you get accepted to a higher-ranked school, it does not automatically mean that you will be accepted by all schools that finished below it in rankings. You may feel awkward about this, but this goes back to the same point I made earlier that rankings are only a good place to start but not a data point to make decision or draw inferences. Cultural fit is extremely important when deciding between schools. You will study, live, eat, and breathe with your classmates for two years, so might as well choose a school that complements your personality.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? My campus visit to UNC Kenan-Flagler gave me a close insight of the community. Community is a word that all schools use frequently. Among all schools, UNC has a distinct community vibe. I was overwhelmed with the support I received from the campus ambassadors. That’s when I knew that the school really wants me to be successful with my application process. After numerous calls with alums, current students and listening to their stories ranging from last minute peer coaching sessions to babysitting a classmate’s newly born, I realized that I wanted to be in a place where people are working for my success rather than just competing for success.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? My dream job is an associate position with a top tier consulting firm working on M&A in the hi-tech space. It appeals to my belief that every company is essentially transitioning towards becoming a technology company and that technology strategy of a company is no longer a business enabler but rather a business differentiator. I also feel that innovation curve in standard businesses is weak while startups are hot beds of innovation. Keeping this in mind, I strongly feel that the M&A among traditional companies and start-ups is on the cards. Contributing to such an ecosystem is very appealing to me because I firmly believe that change is the only constant in the world and it would be very satisfying for me to know that I have contributed towards the advancement of what we do and how we do it.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? A shameless plug here from the speech by Ravi Maniar, MBA Student Association president from the UNC Kenan-Flagler Class of 2016: “Not a Tar Heel born but a Tar Heel bred, when I die, I will be a Tar Heel dead.” I want my peers to say that I graduated with the core values of a Tar Heel – great pride in sports, a culture of helping everyone around you to succeed in life and give back to make a stronger community.  I just wish my peers can say the same thing about me as Ravi.

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