2017 MBAs To Watch: Kunal Chandra, IMD Business School

Kunal Chandra

IMD Business School

“Ardent Bob Dylan fan, hoping to make an impact through Energy and Education.”

Age: 33

Hometown: Lucknow, India

Fun fact about yourself: I almost became a dentist before turning to the World of engineering and business

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Technology, Indian Institute of Technology Delhi, India

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Royal Dutch Shell, Commercial Lead for Gas Deals

Where did you intern during the summer of 2016? SolaireDirect (An Engie group Company), Paris

Where will you be working after graduation? Siemens CEO Program Associate, Siemens

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • IMD Ambassador to Global Network for Advanced Management.
  • Winner, IMD International Alumni Scholarship
  • Honors (Dean’s list)
  • Founder, Board of Director, Generation for Societal Change, Nigeria. An NGO with the objective of instilling moral education and professionalism in the Youth of Nigeria.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of the paper my team and I presented during the IMD’s annual conference called Navigating the Future. Titled, Energy Futures, the paper investigated the role of government policies in enabling a country to make a successful transition to renewables. As a team, we were able to draw on the rich experiences of the MBA cohort and make a compelling argument that generated a very positive response from business executives and industry experts. Our work is likely to be taken forward in coming years in the form of an Energy roundtable.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the work that I did in Shell’s Nigeria plant, where I was entrusted with the responsibility of enhancing the safety and performance standards in a large (multi-billion dollar) asset to meet world class standards. Working with people of varying educational, social and economic backgrounds my extraordinary team and I achieved our objectives in record time making it one of the safest plants in Shell’s entire portfolio, significantly reducing the risks of accidents and fatalities. This project required me to go beyond mere processes and deeply understand the motivations and drivers of my frontline staff (often with limited education) and then instill in them a sense of ownership. I learnt a lot.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Nuno Fernandes, Finance

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Finance. Key insight: As a CFO if you are spending more time speculating in capital markets than on your core business, then you are in the wrong business.

Why did you choose this business school? I was looking for an MBA program that will help me begin my leadership journey in the truest sense and prepare me for executive positions right after the MBA. I believe IMD was most suited to this task.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Listening to, learning from and harmonizing with 39 other nationalities in a small class of 90 students, meeting for the first time someone from Georgia (country not the state).

What was the most surprising thing about business school for you? Our communication training was conducted by a stage actor, our leadership journey was aided by a professor who has built a reputation as a leading hostage negotiator and one former British Olympic athlete. We spent a week in the mountains interacting with a Jesuit priest turned investment banker and learning from him the art of striking a balance. These encounters emphasized that the parallels between business world and so many other disciplines are striking and that for an aspiring leader inspiration is everywhere.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself, always.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that IMD is one of the most intense MBA programs. The reality as I found out was that in fact it is the most intense MBA program.

What was your biggest regret in business school? It was too short.

 Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Nicolas Martinez. His self-less efforts to enhance the learning experience of rest of the cohort were impressive and inspiring.

 I knew I wanted to go to business school when…as a child, I visited several cities in India with my dad on his sales calls. I realized two things in those moments that: 1) the world runs on business and 2) businesses are run by people. I was fascinated about the art of selling, marketing, leadership but above all the art of dealing with people.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…preparing to go to one. As I said, my desire to go to a business school is such deep rooted that there cannot have been a substitute to that experience.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would ensure there are more women in the business school cohort and that they are at the center of the curriculum design. During my time at IMD I tried to work through GNAM (Global Network for Advanced Management) to create awareness around this topic.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To bring more energy to more people in a safe, sustainable and cost efficient way.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My mother. She has been a constant source of inspiration and strength. Her advice that has helped the most is that I should try to reach my own full potential without worrying about how that stacks up in comparison to others.

Favorite book: Of mice and men, John Steinbeck

Favorite movie or television show: Aviator, It’s a wonderful life

Favorite musical performer: Bob Dylan

Favorite vacation spot: New York

Hobbies? Reading, Driving, Golf

What made Kunal such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“With 9+ years of international experience in the oil and gas sector, Kunal is passionate about the energy sector and the challenges it faces.

He is a natural networker and manages to see an opportunity in everything that comes his way. Professional and enthusiastic in everything he does we wish him all the best in his next step with Siemens CEO Program.”

The MBA Office Team



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