Meet MIT Sloan’s MBA Class of 2018


Kasmira Pawa

MIT, Sloan School of Management

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Proud Canadian with a passion for inspiring concrete change (and hiking in my spare time)!

Hometown: Edmonton, Canada

Fun Fact About Yourself: I once led a project organizing an LED light display visible from space, and received a call on my cellphone from an astronaut on the International Space Station right before the flyover.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Calgary – Mechanical Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

McKinsey & Co. – Analyst, Associate

TechnoServe – Consultant

CrossBoundary – Associate

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Consulting for the COO and CEO of the Ethiopian Commodities Exchange on a modification of the national coffee trading mechanism to incentivize sustainability efforts and boost the value of exported coffee. My success in this role required leveraging the diverse perspectives I have built consulting in a wide variety of work environments (from the shop floor at mines to an executive client’s office on Wall Street). These past experiences have enabled me to build awareness of my strengths and weaknesses in different contexts, and adapt my style to different working cultures and cultural norms.

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

GMAT – It is easy to postpone and postpone. I recommend getting the test done early so it is out of the way before applications start. Plan backwards for how much time you think you need to prepare (4-8 weeks worked for many people I knew). Book your test date so you’re committed, and use your prep time wisely. Do one practice exam right at the beginning as a diagnostic to let you know areas requiring the most prep. While some content review may be helpful on trouble areas, I found the best prep was simply doing practice exams. A lot of the GMAT strategy is time management, so practicing taking exams under real time constraints will help you develop the judgment of when to move on from a question you don’t know, and how to best manage your time between questions.

Application and essays – Make sure to tie everything together into a cohesive story. Your MBA application is an opportunity to look back on each decision and step along your path, and reflect on exactly why you did what you did, along with when and how you did it. Even those that seemed like ‘good opportunities at the right time’ were most likely inspired by deeper interests and motivations. I found it helpful to lay out all of my major experiences, personal and professional, and explore how each one drove the next and the common themes throughout.

While you may not know exactly what you want to do coming out of your MBA, this story can help provide more clarity into your priorities, driving factors behind your decisions, and likely trends that will continue into the future. This can help you explore your goals for during and after the MBA. Coming up with this early allows you to select the schools most suited to your profile, and then to select references who can speak to the relevant themes you want to highlight.

Interview – The interview is about getting to know you as a person, so be genuine. Be ready to speak in-depth about your experiences from your application as well as new stories you may want to share to complement what the interviewer has already read. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep so you can be relaxed and at your best, and can let your energy and passion come through for what you are most excited about. Above all, you should feel like yourself during the interview, and you should walk away feeling like the interviewer has a good sense of who you are and what is important to you.

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA?So many reasons! A big draw was MIT’s focus on action learning, and the emphasis they place on attracting ‘true do-ers.’ I consider myself a fairly pragmatic person, and felt that Sloan’s approach resonated well with my value of being as effective as possible and creating real, tangible value. However, I would say the biggest factor for me was ultimately the culture and the fit. Every member of the Sloan community I connected with went out of his or her way to be helpful, and I was struck by the humility and down-to-earth nature of everyone I met. This was a community I wanted to be a part of, and one I am very excited to now be joining.

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? Growing up, my father used to always tell us ‘you should always put more into life than you take out.’ For me, this means following a career path in which I am consistently challenged and pushed to learn new things and take risks, but am also empowered to best leverage my strengths and have the greatest impact possible.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? Above all I would want to be remembered as an authentic and caring person who takes initiative for what she believes in and works hard to make things happen.

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