Columbia Business School
Describe yourself in 15 words or less: A ‘poet’ with a vivid imagination and insatiable curiosity, motivated to inspire and influence change.
Hometown: New Delhi, India and New York, New York
Fun Fact About Yourself: I was part of a mainstream Bollywood movie production as an actor/dancer!
Undergraduate School and Major: I studied Fashion and Design in Mumbai (India) and in New York. Mumbai: National Institute of Fashion Technology; New York: Fashion Institute of Technology.
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: I started my retail career in a heritage inspired luxury lifestyle brand in India where I worked closely with factories and local artisans to design and manufacture products. In the US, I worked at New York & Company as an Assistant Designer and then spent the last 5 years at Ralph Lauren in an accelerated professional track, most recently in the role of a Senior Designer.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’ve been lucky enough to have had first-hand, real-time impact through my work early on in my career. I successfully designed and launched two apparel categories accountable for over $40 million in sales during my time at Ralph Lauren. For someone with a creative background, these launches were lessons in the importance of interpreting customer data and building relationships that transcend distance and language to accomplish results. Witnessing customers buy into my ideas, seeing the designs I had sketched on paper come to life on websites, in the windows of retailers such as Bloomingdale’s and Macy’s, on TV shows, on people I’ve always admired and most importantly on the general public was exhilarating! To be able to influence people and their choices through my creative vision is without a doubt one of my most cherished accomplishments.
Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? As a fashion designer pursuing an MBA degree –an extreme professional minority –
I had to be 100% sure that I was investing my resources in the right direction and needed to have the insight to explain clearly how I would benefit from an MBA program at a specific school. In order to gain this clarity, I spent a considerable amount of time introspecting and seeking out conversations with anyone who was willing to share his/ her experience. I sought out MBA alumni, current students and business professionals to understand where, how and IF I would fit in.
The advice from my personal experience would probably be especially applicable to candidates from non-traditional backgrounds. First and foremost, once you have decided that an MBA is the right way to go and you have done your initial research on programs and spoken to students, faculty, and admissions at your school(s) of choice, don’t hold back and put your best foot forward. I learned from the application process that nothing is insurmountable in the face of determination. The best resource you have for success is yourself and the only thing holding you back is also yourself. So, be persistent in your preparation, organize yourself, make a schedule that you can stick to, and work hard to nail those GMAT problems.
While a high GMAT score is important, a well thought out, authentic essay can make or break your application. Let your personality, experiences and aspirations shine through your essay and you will enjoy writing it. Often times, it is helpful to have another set of eyes go through your writing (not too many sets of eyes though!). I had my sister, husband and 1-2 friends read through my essays and give their feedback. In the end, you decide what goes into your application but an outside perspective can help. Your application is entirely your story to tell, so tell it well and be excited about your accomplishments… because if you are, others will be too!
What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? For me, my MBA program had to be about balance. I wanted to not only be able to balance my personal life and career aspirations, but also find a balance in getting world-class learning and easy access to experiential learning opportunities. Columbia Business School was an obvious choice: I could attend the MBA program of my preference while living with my husband. I could learn from the incredible faculty and industry practitioners at CBS and instantaneously apply that learning through one of the many opportunities (such as in-semester internships) in New York City’s thriving business landscape. For a career switcher like me, Columbia Business School offers an extremely supportive and influential alumni network along with unparalleled access to informational events across various industries. In the end, I knew I would feel most supported and most ‘at home’ at Columbia!
What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I came to CBS looking for a challenge, because for me challenge parallels growth. I’m about to start my first year ready to be challenged and eager to learn from the extremely smart, interesting and driven people around me. Building relationships with amazing people I can call friends and adding another dimension to the way I perceive the world would warrant a successful first year for me at CBS!