2018 MBAs To Watch: Dr. Harshita Mishra, UCLA (Anderson)

Dr. Harshita Mishra

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

A doctor by training, a global business leader in making, and a humanitarian by heart.”

Age: 28 years

Hometown: Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India

Fun fact about yourself: There is a funny (and embarrassing) online video of myself somewhere out there, performing a rap song on “why we should save water” in front of 600 plus people. Did I mention that I had myself written that song and that it was my first and last rap performance ever? I leave the rest to the reader’s imagination.

Undergraduate School: Manipal College of Dental Sciences, Manipal University, India.
Degree: Bachelor of Dental Surgery

Where did you work before enrolling in business school?

Order starts from the most recent:

  • Pradyumna Bal Hospital – Assistant Marketing Manager
  • Institute of Dental Sciences – Faculty, Department of Public Health Dentistry
  • The Scientific Foundation for Tribal and Rural Resource Development – Research Assistant and Dental Consultant
  • Nanda’s Dental Clinic – Dental Surgeon

Where did you intern during the summer of 2017?

Company: Genentech, a subsidiary of Roche.
Location: San Francisco, USA

Where will you be working after graduation?

Company: Roche
Role: Global Business Perspective.
Highly selective, Roche’s Accelerated Leadership Development Program provides a ‘rapid fire’ induction experience to two hires each year (> 1200 applicants). It includes four different roles in four different countries over two years across any of the six continents – Asia, Europe, the Americas, Australia, and Africa

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Anderson Exceptional Student Fellowship Award
  • President of South Asian Business Association
  • Vice President – Education of Healthcare Business Association
  • Anderson Career Team Coach for International Students
  • Project Echo Mentor
  • Junior Achievement Mentor
  • Director of Special Olympics for Challenge for Charity
  • Director of Marketing and Communications for Challenge for Charity
  • Volunteer for other activities such as International Women’s Day Volunteer and Downtown Women’s Center Volunteering

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? For my MBA capstone project, my team and I are working with the Ministry of Guyana and an international non-profit to improve the community development of indigenous communities by leveraging technology. We were stuck at a point because the infrastructure, the willingness to adopt technology, and the technology penetration itself is very poor in these communities.

I undertook an initiative to conduct a primary case study in Odisha, India during winter break to understand how technology and other non-technological measures are leveraged for community development of ‘primary vulnerable tribal groups’ in Odisha. The findings of this case study have now formed the basis of the solution for our client. I am proud of the lasting impact my team and I will create from Los Angeles in the lives of thousands of indigenous people at Guyana through this solution.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? While working as a faculty member in the Institute of Dental Sciences, I proposed an innovative, massive anti-tobacco campaign comprising of plays, health talks, and self-screening oral cancer check-ups in place of the conventional anti-tobacco rallies that had been taking place for the past seven years. Initially, there was resistance to this proposal, as we were a new institution and this campaign could either put us on map or turn out to be a huge public relations disaster for us.

To facilitate the campaign, I persuaded the board of directors for funding, the government for logistics, the media houses for campaign coverage, and the heads of department for manpower through customized presentations and data analyses for each stakeholder group. Winning this huge support, I gained senior leadership buy-in and was handed leadership of the entire campaign. Upon completion of the campaign, attendance at our Anti-Tobacco Counseling Center increased by 100% in one month. The impact did not end there – other departments of my institution and other healthcare institutions also emulated the concept of innovative campaigns to address healthcare issues.

I am proud of this achievement not only because I got to lead such a huge campaign but because of the lasting impact that I was able to create in the healthcare domain of my community.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA Professor is Elisa Long, who took my first analytical course in MBA – Data and Decisions. She is my most favorite teacher because she brought real world examples to help us understand not only the basics of statistics but how to implement classroom learning in the real world.

I met with her one-on-one a few times during my first quarter at Anderson. We discussed several topics such as statistics in real life world; her noble healthcare research work in India and South Africa related to HIV; her journey from being diagnosed with breast cancer and then emerging as a survivor; and her passion to leverage her expertise in statistics for the betterment of humanity. We found passion for healthcare as a common thread between us.

During the initial days of my MBA life, I was personally facing some transient challenges to fit into business school as I came from a non-traditional business background and psychologically felt, “Maybe I am not as good as everybody else. I am so different.” She instilled confidence in me and encouraged me to be myself and stay close to my roots. I followed her advice and everything fell into place.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My most favorite MBA course is Marketing Strategy and Planning taught by Professor Andres Terech. My biggest business insight was how to merge the quantitative aspect of marketing metrics and qualitative aspect of consumer behavior for developing a go-to-market strategy in alignment with the company’s overall strategy and consumer’s needs.

Why did you choose this business school? While applying to b-schools, I was looking for business schools with a global perspective and a collaborative culture so that I can learn, grow, and develop with a diverse group of future global leaders. UCLA Anderson, as we all know, had two big tick marks for these two attributes like a few other schools.

Then, UCLA Anderson provided me with a third attribute, which made me confident that UCLA Anderson is the right fit for me. My interaction with three Anderson alum in a coffee chat in India, gave me a glimpse of the closely-knit alum base of UCLA Anderson. All the alums were at the peak of their careers. They were smart alpha people yet humble and approachable. That’s when I knew, I want to be like them, when I am at the peak of my career – for me that is the definition of a true leader – highly accomplished yet humble.

After coming to UCLA Anderson, this reason has further solidified as I have witnessed in person the above trait in several accomplished UCLA Anderson alums and faculty members.

What is your best piece advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?

My best advice to an applicant applying to UCLA Anderson or any business school for that matter is, “Be yourself.” No matter how cliché this advice sounds, I believe the decision to pursue an MBA from a business school is like marrying someone: the decision stays with you and with the school forever.

Anderson is a perfect fit for an applicant, in my opinion, if these words resonate with him/her.

  • If you want to grow and develop with a diverse pool of high achievers and innovators who are fun loving and humble, then Anderson is the perfect fit for you.
  • If you are vocal about social issues and take constructive actions to change the world around you for the betterment of humanity, then Anderson is the perfect fit for you.
  • If you want to be part of a strong and collaborative culture both during and after school, then Anderson is the perfect fit for you because: “Students graduate from UCLA Anderson and leave the campus one day, but no one can ever take away UCLA Anderson out of them.”

What is the biggest myth about your school? That UCLA Anderson is a “party school.”

The myth is indeed a fact. But, there is more to this myth. I would rephrase “party school” as “a school that celebrates you for who you are and what you bring to the Anderson community.” UCLA Anderson is a place where people come together to celebrate you and your successes. It is a place, where people encourage those who have failed to try again and cheer you to motivate you and to help you grow and develop both professionally and personally.

What was your biggest regret in business school? My biggest regret is not taking up any language classes at business school. It was because of my conflicting schedule that this did not work out. Post-MBA, I am joining a full-time company, which will sponsor any relevant language classes that I pursue. I look forward to learning German and Mandarin Chinese.

Ich bin dankbar dafür. (Translation: “I am grateful for this” in German. Apologies, if there are any mistakes in the translation.)

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate that I most admire is one of my best friends at UCLA Anderson – Yvonne Chan. She worked through a life of hardships to get to UCLA Anderson. You can never know the hardships she went through when you meet her. I myself learned about her hardships after a long time through a random conversation that came up. I would not get into her hardships as few words would not do justice to that. What I learned from her is that with perseverance, grit, and a smile on one’s face, one can achieve any life goal.

Also, I think my entire batch will never forget how Yvonne overcome her fear of heights and successfully completed a leadership task that involved jumping from an extremely high height. This again showed her perseverance and grit. Of course, she smiled!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I was influenced by the story of a sex worker to pursue business in college. While working in a sex worker’s camp in Southern India, I came across a woman who had chosen this profession not because it was her choice but because it was her family’s decision as they wanted to fund a cure for an illness with which her brother was suffering. Hearing this broke my heart and I felt helpless.

I realized as a doctor, I can leverage my hands to treat many patients through one on one clinical interactions with them. However, with my mind and brain put together, I can achieve many things and impact thousands and millions of people like Melinda Gates does through her Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Vinita Gupta does through her role as the CEO of Lupin Pharmaceuticals.

The stories of these strong women business leaders and the life changing experience with the sex worker inspired and influenced me to combine my healthcare knowledge with business acumen to emerge as a global healthcare leader in the field of market access of drugs, especially to those who need it the most.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…a public healthcare researcher and biostatistician for global healthcare projects especially in BRICS nations.”

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the MBA experience?

I would have a grade non-disclosure policy so that if there are any students who aren’t exploring unknown study areas due to fear of bad grades, would now choose to pursue those subjects. This would further strengthen the “knowledge seeking” aspect of the Anderson culture.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Founding a global non-profit healthcare organization geared towards providing medicines and decreasing healthcare disparities, especially in BRICS nations.
  2. Construct my family tree and find my ancestral roots.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Someone who understood people and was always reliable.

What is your favorite movie about business?

Movie name: Moneyball
Reason: This movie taught me how out of the box thinking can help one to win in a scenario where all the odds are stacked against that person.

What would your theme song be?

Song name: “Count On Me”; Artist: Bruno Mars
Reason: It reflects my core values: to be there for others unconditionally, not just when it is convenient

Favorite vacation spot: Goa, India. Hands Down!

Hobbies? Writing short stories; motivational public speaking; cooking; dancing

What made Harshita such an invaluable addition to the class of 2018?

“I met Harshita in our Leadership Development Program—I served as her coach during her first year, so I got to know her well. When we first met, it was clear Harshita hadn’t found her niche. She had a very good general sense of what she wanted to achieve, but wasn’t quite sure how to get there.

I have the opportunity to observe many students, but I rarely see someone undergo such a powerful transformation during their time here! Harshita went from being an unsure (but clearly brilliant and very talented), hesitant new MBA student, with vague ideas about her goals, to a strong, confident leader with clear aspirations. She was so open to suggestions and to gentle nudges, that working with her was a complete joy. Her story about how she secured her full time job with Roche—how she found the opportunity to the multi-day interview process in Switzerland, and how she was chosen from 1,400 applicants is a testament to how she has transformed while here at Anderson.

Although confident in many ways, Harshita is humble and self-deprecating in a way that makes her one of the most approachable people I know. Her ability to disarm people with her subtle sense of humor is a real gift, and one of the many reason she is so well-liked by both her classmates and staff.  Harshi is one of those rare people who makes a place better by simply being there. Her kindness is contagious, and her ability to make others feel special is a gift.

When I look back on how much Harshita has grown and all that she has achieved in such a brief period of time, I am simply blown away. The determination she exhibited to get every last bit out of her MBA experience should serve as a roadmap for all who make the investment in business school!”

Rob Weiler                
Associate Dean, Full-Time MBA Program

 

DON’T MISS THE FULL LIST:

100 MBAS TO WATCH IN THE CLASS OF 2018