Meet UCLA Anderson’s MBA Class of 2019

Prateek Gupta 

UCLA, Anderson School of Management 

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: I’m the friend you have to explain to your other friends before they meet me.

Hometown: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I started my first business enterprise when I was 4. I used to buy candies at bulk from the wholesale store and sell them at a premium in my housing colony. Even a one-dollar profit a month seemed like a sweet deal 20 years ago.

Undergraduate School and Major: Indian Institute of Technology, Bachelor of Technology in Mathematics and Computing

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: Assistant Manager à Senior Business Analyst à Manager at Flipkart; Chief Marketing Officer at Rapido

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Flipkart was the market leader in e-commerce in India in 2014, but the leadership wanted to organize a Black Friday-style mega Sale event in India – the Big Billion Day Sale where we’d have the best of products with attractive offers just for one day and target $100M in revenues.

My 5-member team was entrusted with the job of designing the analytical dashboards to track the offers on real-time basis. On the sale day, we were supposed to track the offer performance against the targets and control the sale by controlling the visibility and traffic given to a particular offer, eventually stopping the offers when they achieved targets. But some of our analytical systems failed, due to unprecedented traffic and there was a widespread chaos. As a result, we were blind to the real-time numbers for almost two crucial hours and couldn’t take any action.

Knowing we couldn’t let the sale happen uncontrollably, I led a team of eight analysts to leverage forecasting models coupled with my own business judgement to make up for the failed systems and continued to optimize offers real-time. Because of the unprecedented traffic, some of the delivery hubs had also gotten choked. Several hubs didn’t have enough manpower to process the delivery of several different product categories. I coordinated with the logistics team and my team built a framework to make certain products available in certain pincodes, easing the pressure on individual hubs.

All these efforts helped us to achieve the target of $100M in revenues in one day within the supply chain constraints. The entire event was a big learning experience for me. I learned no matter how much you plan beforehand, when you’re trying to do something brave for the first time, especially at a national scale, things will go wrong and when they do, you have to stay calm and focused. And on a day, when most of the senior business leaders panicked amidst the chaos, I stayed calm and stepped up to avert the crisis and for the first time in my life, I actually felt proud of myself.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants?  Personally, I spent the most time writing and iterating over my resume and my essays. And when I look back now, I think I spent more time on them than I should have. I couldn’t articulate my points well because I had forgotten most of what I had done. I also couldn’t manage to elucidate my points further with the right numbers. And all I ever thought was that I wish I had maintained a journal of all my projects in the S-A-R format. That’s the one thing I’d change if I could go back in time, the one piece of advice I would like to give to future business school applicant: Keep an elaborate record of everything you do in your career along with the impact you created and the learnings you picked up along the way.

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? My biggest reason to pursue an MBA degree outside India was that I wanted to learn the nuances of working in a global company surrounded by peers from all over the world. I loved what I did back in India, but the key piece I was missing was a truly global setup. So, the biggest reason for me to choose UCLA was its career management center – Parker.

Since I am interested in technology firms, narrowing it down to west coast was easy. But my short-term goals immediately after MBA don’t include starting a company or pursuing a job back in India. It is imperative for me to find the job that I want in United States. I want to learn newer technologies and their applications in solving global business problems and apply my learnings to start a company in India in the long-term. So getting the right job in the US in the short-term is very critical to my long-term goal. And none of the schools on the west coast have as efficient, proactive and helpful career management center as Parker. And from what I have seen so far, Parker has delivered more than I had hoped for.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I am really passionate about the role technology can play in solving large-scale business problems. For me, success after business school would mean landing an internship which allows me to do that – leverage technology to solve global business problems. It could be in one of the leading tech firms or it could be in the technology consulting division of one of the leading management consulting firm. As long as I am getting to do what I want to do, I’ll take that as success. Also, humility to me is the most important aspect of being a leader. If nothing works out, but I am humbler a year later than I am today, I’ll take that as success as well.

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