Meet Minnesota Carlson’s MBA Class Of 2019

Atul Fotedar

Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: A self-determined thought leader who is passionate and argumentative yet culturally sensitive.

Hometown: Simla, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I will take up a challenge anytime given its merits. The last time I did this was my first marathon in Singapore, which I completed in 5 hours, 31 minutes without any training (not recommended!). A few months prior, I cycled about 300 kilometers for 18 hours across four states in India and used this experience as a means to create awareness about health and fitness. 

Undergraduate School and Major: B.E. in Electronics and Communications from Thapar University, Patiala, India.

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Whirlpool India: 

Young Leaders Development Program – Graduate Engineering Trainee

Deputy Manager – Quality

Whirlpool Corporation:

Operations Manager – KitchenAid Asia Pacific

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: A growth market and a new team in a new region mean turbulent operations with huge opportunities. In the Asia Pacific region, the supply chain was not only struggling but even customer orders and shipments were as ad hoc as possible. Despite efforts by the corporate team in the U.S., the regional team did not have a functional warehouse in Asia, even after two years of negotiations.

I was tasked with getting warehouse operations up-and-running, and even though I was just one month on the job, I managed to liaise with the right people and make sure priorities were set with definite timelines. I understood the leadership’s expectations and set out to define the team’s goals. After a few weeks of 2 a.m. transcontinental conference calls, we had our Asia Hub ready with ocean lanes to deploy products to 11 regional distributors within Asia. After understanding the requirements, I was successful in getting the right product and the first shipments out to our customers.

I learned that sometimes despite the best intentions, market demand and even visible return on investment, there will be challenges in business execution if there isn’t clarity in communication. This is of even greater importance especially in large multinational business operations.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants?  The GMAT is just a part of the application. The importance of the rest of the application far outweighs the time and focus students typically spend on quizzing about their GMAT score. Make sure you connect with current students and use resources such as Poets & Quants and GMAT Club in order to get a perspective on the application process and understand what a business school seeks in a candidate. Reach out to current or past students and don’t hesitate to ask questions or be mentored.

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? The return on investment should be of prime concern to international students like me. I chose Carlson because it is consistently ranked one of the top graduate business programs for return on investment. Secondly, Carlson’s experiential enterprises give students the opportunity to understand current industry challenges. This is a boon for international students who do not have the experience of a U.S. business. Carlson is also situated in the neighborhood of 18 Fortune 500 companies, which made it a top choice as a business school for me.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school?  Eventually in my career I would like to lead a multinational business unit. Immediately after business school, I would have built a leadership mindset because I learned from a diverse group of students and their experiences. For me, success would mean I have a strong professional network and I am in a position where I can give back to the community. I want to have a positive impact on people around me and would like to be in a position where talented and curious individuals would choose to work with me at the first opportunity.