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Harvard | Mr. Amazon Manager
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Stanford GSB | Mr. Fintech
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Meet Harvard Business School’s MBA Class Of 2019

Anirudh Banarji

Harvard Business School

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Wrote my first line of code when I was eight and have been trying to fix problems using technology ever since.

Hometown: Born in Delhi, grew up in six different states across India but the longest I have stayed in any one city has been in Tokyo (from 2011 to 2017).

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I enjoy playing any sport that involves a racket.  Every year, during our annual family reunion, my brother and I play squash against each other.  The score is carried over from year to year and we have now been keeping track of the score for more than ten years.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Pune, Bachelor of Engineering (Computer Science)

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Rakuten Inc, Tokyo: Rakuten is Japan’s largest internet services company, providing a variety of consumer and business-focused services in sectors such as e-commerce, travel, banking, securities, digital contents, online marketing and sports.

Team Manager, E-commerce Incubation Department: As a team manager in the global headquarters, I led projects from idea to execution for Rakuten’s membership, video and review platforms that impact more than one billion users globally and over 44,000 small to medium enterprises across sectors such as retail, travel and fintech.

As an engineer in various capacities, I also helped build Rakuten’s affiliate platform, created android apps and led one of Asia’s largest digital storage services, handling petabytes of data.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: There are two memories that stay with me. The first is when I was recognized company-wide for my work by my guide and mentor, Hiroshi Mikitani (CEO of Rakuten). The second is when my team that was working on a user review aggregator service managed to cross 200 million end-user reviews. We all gathered around a large screen that was counting up to the big number. It was a milestone that we all eagerly awaited, and it was a special moment to celebrate success together.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? The entire application process allowed me to take a step back and really reflect on the decisions that I have taken so far and my future dreams, teaching me to value what I have achieved and to work towards my long-term aspirations. It also allowed me to share my journey with those who have guided me over the years. I would therefore recommend that future applicants “introspect, reflect and share.” It is your story and your journey; make sure it truly represents who you are. And most important, apply to your dream school when you feel you are ready and do not doubt yourself.

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? I learn best through discussion and debate, and learning via the case method was exactly what I was looking for. Attending a class on campus only reinforced that belief. Harvard has always stood for excellence, and the university and its principles have stood the test of time. Success stories such as those of Rakuten have been made possible in large part because of the education and experience Mr. Mikitani had as a Harvard MBA student from 1991 to 1993.  HBS personifies the values of personal transformation and widespread impact, values that have been an intrinsic part of my journey thus far. I was drawn to the program for all these reasons.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I would like to engage with my classmates and help continue to build a community that does amazing things together in the future and lives up to the school’s mission of educating leaders who make a positive difference in the world.