Meet the Michigan Ross MBA Class of 2020

Sankalp Damani

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

An engineer turned management consultant, sports and music buff, startup and technology enthusiast.”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I play almost every racquet sport. I have also regularly performed at social events in and outside my college as a singer and guitarist!

Undergraduate School and Major: Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Civil Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title:
The Boston Consulting Group, Mumbai, India
Specialist Consultant

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As a consultant at BCG, I’ve always had the opportunity to make a big impact for my clients. The most significant, however, was when I executed a retention strategy for an Indian banking client leading to a real-time improvement of roughly $70 million in their business in a span of only two months. The bank had been losing business significantly over the past two years and was given a target by the Central Banking Authorities to recover these losses. I took this opportunity to move over 2000 bank employees across the nation and bring a new dedicated focus on customer retention. Through my initiative, the bank was not only able to meet this target but sustain a new organization structure and process focused towards customer retention. This has now become a key strategy at BCG and I also worked with a developer team to build a white-labelled customer retention app to help BCG sell similar projects to other banks!

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Over the last few months, I have met several of my future classmates in Mumbai and also a few current students at Ross. My classmates are extremely sharp and driven and we have built a great sense of community even before the start of b-school!

Aside from your classmates, 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 major factor that led me to choose Ross was the enormous scope for experiential learning that the school offers. Putting theory to practice via MAP and REAL in a learning environment, Ross will truly help me build core leadership skills that are required for high impact in international business. Since I have had limited international work experience before, experiential learning in an international environment is one of the core factors that I believe will add value to my MBA experience.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I’m most keen on two clubs: The Consulting Club and The Zell Lurie Commercialization Fund. These clubs firmly resonate with my post-MBA career goals as well as my prior experience.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After graduating from engineering school in 2013, I worked for five years in India, mainly in consulting. I realized that I wanted to pursue a long-term career in consulting, and business school was the means to not only get formal training but also develop the necessary leadership skills to thrive in the world of business. To gain international experience and to further my career in consulting and as a business professional, starting an MBA this year was the perfect next step for me.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? An MBA is undoubtedly a financial investment. However, apart from the competitive salaries that one gets post MBA (especially in the U.S.), I see an MBA as a long-term investment in myself. The degree will not only add to my pedigree, but will also open millions of doors in the business world through the brand, network, and skills that I will acquire.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Tuck, Columbia, London Business School, NYU Stern

How did you determine your fit at various schools? To understand how each school functions, my best resource was talking to current students. I had friends in each of these schools and spoke at length to understand the student culture, academic focus, teaching styles, and industry exposure. Further, I used material available online at the schools’ websites and third party journals on these schools (Poets & Quants, Clear Admit etc.). The two most important factors for me to differentiate schools were the student culture and post-MBA career options. Speaking to current students and employment reports gave me an in-depth understanding of both these factors.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment came when I was able to help transform the life of an eleven-year-old underprivileged child into a star student and a regular in his school’s sports team just by mentoring him. I realized that what matters most to me is the impact I am able to have through whatever I do. I subsequently worked for a Fintech startup for a year and where we managed to start disrupting the collateral-backed loan industry in India – an industry which was otherwise had a duopoly and was therefore extremely unaffordable. While startups have always been my passion, I finally chose a career in consulting because it helped me create impact on a larger scale.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to go back to management consulting after I graduate.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I see myself as a successful management consultant who is able to manage his personal and professional priorities alike. I would also love to have been part of a successful venture as a part-time contributor in the next five years.