2018 Best MBAs: Prathama K Nabi, Wharton School

Prathama K Nabi

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

Age: 30

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Passionate about social justice, curious, goal-oriented, gritty, sincere, aspiring funny person.

Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Fun fact about yourself: I don’t know how to drive a car but I’ve driven an ATV through the Peruvian mountainside.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Harvard College, A.B. in Linguistics and Secondary in Economics

Where did you work before enrolling in business school? Root Cause, Senior Manager, Campaign for Black Male Achievement Accelerator

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017? Barclays, New York

Where will you be working after graduation? Barclays, Investment Banking Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • The Patrick T. Harker “Wharton Way” Award: Selected by my first-year classmates for exemplifying service, participation, and involvement in the Wharton community.
  • Co-President, Return on Equality (ROE): Composed of over 200 Wharton students, ROE equips students to become advocates/allies of diversity, equity, and inclusion via panels, workshops, small group dinners.
  • Co-President, Wharton India Club: Wharton India Club focuses on building a cohesive community for everyone belonging to and/or interested in the Indian subcontinent and culture.
  • Member, Vice Dean’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force: The Vice Dean’s Task Force, a partnership between the administration, the Wharton Graduate Association, and ROE, is focused on executing the school’s diversity and inclusion strategy.
  • Student Life Fellow: I am one of 52 second year students, who mentor first years, provide resources, and help them adjust to school.
  • Admissions Fellow: Admissions Fellows work with the Admissions office to conduct applicant interviews, information sessions, and admissions tours.
  • Choreographer, Dance Studio: Dance Studio is a student-run show where ~400 Wharton students perform in dances reflecting different cultures.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of spearheading a new initiative with the Office of Student Life, called “One World @ Wharton”. It leverages the experiences of second year international students to help first-year internationals settle in at Wharton and adjust to life in the U.S.

I came to the U.S. at 19, as an international student, with no support system or family here. I know how daunting it is to navigate a new social, professional and academic culture, while also being away from home for the first time. During the fall of my second year at Wharton, I heard those same fears from multiple first year international students. So, I approached the school with the idea of creating – “One World@Wharton” –  a community of support where first and second year internationals could share advice and experiences around common challenges.

Thanks to the generous support of the Student Life Office, within a month, I grew that initial idea into a kickoff event around navigating cultural differences in professional and networking settings. The success of the pilot event led the school to institutionalize it as part of its future student life programming for internationals.

While my club leadership has allowed me to partner with the school before, this was an opportunity to meaningfully contribute to Wharton as an individual. The school has created an environment where an individual can create a solution to her peers’ challenges and work with the school to address it on an institutional level.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2013, I helped launch the Campaign for Black Male Achievement’s Social Innovation Accelerator. The nationwide program, the only one of its kind, advises and funds nonprofits focused specifically on racial justice. As a member of the three-person launching team, I was proud to not only help create a pioneering program but to also provide our investees with access to over $1MM in new funding and revenue opportunities within the first year.

What was your favorite MBA Course? I loved Negotiations, taught by Professor Eric Max. Every class, we were given a real-life scenario and had to negotiate with someone we didn’t know. The interactive format pushed me out of my comfort zone, helped me explore different negotiating styles, and gave me frameworks to communicate across different levels of power dynamics. I also learned that the key to successful negotiations often lies in building effective relationships and creating outcomes that work for both parties.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Wharton because of the following:

  • Rigor of Quantitative/Analytical Curriculum: As a career switcher, transitioning from social impact into investment banking, Wharton’s rigorous quantitative/analytical training, offered via advanced finance courses, the Business Analytics major, etc, was the perfect match for me.
  • Depth and Breadth of Resources to Deepen Leadership Skills: Wharton’s McNulty Program offers a wide range of tools to expand leadership skills depending on what the student needs. I spent a weekend at Quantico training like a Marine officer candidate, had access to an Executive Coach, and leveraged small group conversations through P3 (Purpose, Passion, and Principles) to reflect on my definition of success and its relationship to my goals.
  • Focus on Creating an Inclusive Community: The unique combination of clubs like ROE and the school’s commitment to diversity and inclusion allowed me to continue exploring my passion for creating equitable and inclusive communities.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? There is no ‘typical’ Wharton student. It is our unique experiences and stories together that create this class and the opportunity to learn from each other. Focus on demonstrating who you are, how your goals fit with Wharton, and how you can bring that true self to this community. For me, being at Wharton means allowing all of our uniqueness’s to shape each other’s experiences. Now the question is, what does it mean for you?

What is the biggest myth about your school? People assume that Wharton’s rigorous finance/analytical curriculum only attracts students from a limited set of careers or students with a limited set of interests. I have been blown away by the diversity of experiences, backgrounds, and interests that fill the hallways: a former consultant switching to tech who makes his own ramen, a former NFL player transitioning to Wall Street, an MD/MBA with her own start up before school, and so many more.

What was your biggest regret in business school? With humility and gratitude, I have to say there is no regret. Wharton has been an opportunity to pause and reflect on my priorities (professional and personal), to build a toolkit of habits and skills that will help execute those goals, and to learn from every conversation I have regardless of how different or similar I am from that person.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Nazik Zhumalieva. Nazik is a mother of two, switching to a career in automated vehicles from one in gold mining, and the first woman from Kyrgyzstan at Wharton. The way Nazik balances her professional priorities, while still giving her family the attention it needs, serves as a model for what I want my life to look like. It gives me courage to do more and be more, while her humility and grace – in the face of her many accomplishments – reminds me to be grateful for the people and resources who have helped me to become who I am.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? In college, I managed a student business as part of Harvard Student Agencies – the world’s largest student run corporation. Learning about business fundamentals from my peers and having to think through strategic management decisions pushed me to further develop those skills through business school.

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…exploring the world trying to master the art of creating the best dan dan noodles!”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience? I would create a way to facilitate more conversations between faculty and students

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Spend time immersed in the French countryside, learning about French cuisine and wines
  • Scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who will always fight to amplify voices of those who need to be heard.

What is your favorite movie about business? From The Big Short, I learned to critically question the drivers of underlying risk in investments, the need to account for uncertainty and protect against the fallacy of invincibility.

What would your theme song be? “Survivor” (Destiny’s Child)

Favorite vacation spot: Cape Town, South Africa

Hobbies? CorePower Yoga, practicing my detective skills via endless Law & Order marathons, decorating my fridge door with magnets from all over the world

What made Prathama such an invaluable member of the Class of 2018?

“Prathama has provided strong leadership for her peers and the MBA community around creating awareness and understanding for students around diversity, inclusion and belonging. A graduate of Harvard College, at Wharton she has worked with the MBA Student Life to create a new event – One Wharton World – a learning experience focused on supporting international students in gaining insights about career management and development in the United States. As a co-chair of Wharton Return on Equality (ROE), Prathama has been instrumental in engaging student-run organizations to support and delivery a week of thought-provoking diversity and inclusion-themed events for the 2018 One Wharton Week.”

Sue Kauffman DePuyt
Office of Vice Dean 
Wharton School

DON’T MISS: THE ENTIRE LIST OF THE BEST & BRIGHTEST: CLASS OF 2018