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Meet Stanford GSB’s MBA Class Of 2019

Chaitra Yarlagadda

Stanford Graduate School of Business

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Passionate Engineer. Servant Leader. Firm believer that business is a force for doing good.

Hometown: Hyderabad, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: Made ~20mn liters of ice-cream a year as a Manufacturing Manager – tasting ice-creams was a part of my job!

Undergraduate School and Major: Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT), Masters & Bachelors in Electrical Engineering

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:

Unilever, Manufacturing Manager

Unilever, Management Trainee (Unilever Future Leaders Program)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I led a team of 5 engineers and 400 workers to manage operations at Unilever India’s largest ice-cream plant. I left a sustainable impact by improving the plant efficiencies and executing long-term projects towards business growth. What remains close to my heart is the meaningful relationships I formed with my team and the community I built.

When I took over the role, I did not speak the language of my workers and connecting with them was a challenge. By drawing inspiration from my dad’s servant leadership, I led my team with compassion and quickly became their close ally! This helped me in negotiating a long-term wage settlement with the worker union and I cherish this as a character-building experience.

Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? Enjoy the process of writing essays as it is a great opportunity to discover yourself – your values, aspirations and priorities. I shared my essays with 3-4 of my closest family and friends and this allowed me to discuss in depth about what life means to me and get authentic inputs on the story I am narrating through the essay. At GSB, we reflect and discuss on the central theme of our essays, introspecting often about what matters the most to us! Hence, the essay is a beginning to a wonderful journey of self-discovery.

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? GSB was the only school I applied to. The MBA program here stood out to me for 3 reasons:

  1. A mission which aligns with my motto – ‘Business as a force for doing good.’
  2. A strong emphasis on interpersonal skills and executive communication.
  3. A community which can shape my personal and professional perspectives.

Stanford GSB’s mission to “Change Lives. Change Organizations. Change the World” resonated strongly with me. Unilever inspired me to use business as a force for good and I felt that GSB would prepare me for the journey. I was also attracted by opportunities for community-building and leadership development such as Touchy Feely, Executive Challenge, LOWKeynotes (a keynote style presentation about ideas that could change lives, organizations and the world – L.O.W.) and TALK (a student-led GSB tradition where the whole class comes together once a week to listen to the unique stories of two classmates). On speaking to the Alumni, GSB resonated as a place where I can truly learn and grow.

What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I have three priorities for my first year of business school: Build meaningful relationships, active engagement in a dialogue about sustainable business and improve my executive presence

The culture’s emphasis on introspection, vulnerability and intentionality has helped me form strong bonds with friends here who I now consider family. Through Sustainable Business Club, I found a platform to deepen my understanding of shared value creation through business. Experiential courses such as “LeadLabs” and “Essentials of Strategic Communication.” and the communication resources on campus have helped me towards my third goal.