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Meet Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA Class Of 2020

Deepa Tudavekar

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management

“I am a resolute self starter, driven by my passion.”

Hometown:Belgaum, Karnataka, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have travelled solo for more than 135,000 miles in my lifetime. That’s about five times around the earth. I backpacked for three months along the lengths and breadths of the United States, and I have travelled to central parts of Europe and almost all of India. Experiencing and exploring and over 7 countries solo, I learned to face my fears. I got mugged, missed flights, and even got stalked by drug dealers. I learned to work through uncertainties, in cultures foreign to me and in languages that I couldn’t fathom.

Undergraduate School and Major: Visvesvaraya Technological University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: ExploreLifeTraveling.com, Head of Product

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I started a company and grew it from zero to $350,000 in revenue within a year. I won over 30 corporate deals and served packed meals to over 200,000 employees in just four quarters.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? They are very forthright and honest. In my experience, people have been very open and honest about giving positive and constructive feedback. It is easy to applaud and praise your classmates, but it takes courage to honestly assess and critique them while having their best interest at heart. It is because of them that I have already been able to improve myself every day. I am a better version of myself since I first started.

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 thing I loved the most about Vanderbilt is the community and its collegial culture. Everyone at Owen – students, faculty and alumni – believes in preserving relationships. They don’t just preach team spirit; they practice it. They don’t try to best each other; rather, they believe in progressing as a community. To quote an African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It was very important for me to be in a close-knit, collaborative, team-driven and learning environment.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am most excited about the group projects and case work. Working with people from different disciplines, backgrounds and cultures has always appealed to me. Group projects and case work will give me the opportunity to gain and share different perspectives, practice leadership in a diverse team and hone my leadership skills, carving my path towards being an influential leader.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? While my past experiences have exposed me to a wide variety of business cases and developed me as a leader, they also highlighted a few skills I lack. For instance, while running my business, I made a few novice mistakes and could not sustain it. I am proud that I had the courage to run a company that had $350k revenue and did not hesitate to shut it down when necessary. I realized that I lack an understanding of the fast-changing market and a comprehensive knowledge of key strategies. I believe an MBA will provide me with insights on formulating sound product strategies and understanding broader competitive dynamics. The Corporate Strategy and Competitive Industry Analysis courses will give me a firm foundation in strategic management and data-driven decision making. Solving real business cases and project-based experiential learning will train me to thoroughly assess the viability of business models. And an MBA will be invaluable to my leadership development.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? My ultimate aim is to spearhead initiatives that make a meaningful and impactful contribution in the world. I believe you cannot pour from an empty vessel, so any investment in myself that will make me reach my aim and potential is a worthy investment. The network that these top B-schools will expose me to is invaluable, and the returns translate to far more than the monetary investment I am currently making.

What other MBA programs did you apply to?

Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)

Cornell University (Johnson)

UNC (Kenan Flagler)

How did you determine your fit at various schools? A close-knit community where I could be a part of continuous learning environment was of most importance to me. The other important factors I considered were offerings in terms of academics, recruitment and leadership development programs, and whether they matched with what I wanted to do post-MBA. The best resources for me were the current students and the alumni. They give me an honest opinion on the school culture and its offerings. I also visited a few schools and attended their MBA admissions and information events. Poets & Quants was my most bankable and trusted website, apart from school websites, that I frequently visited to know more about school rankings, alumni records, and job market standings.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? The defining moment in my life was when I had to shut down my business. The experience was particularly important, because it made me stop and self-reflect. It is very important to be self-aware, and it is often difficult to acknowledge your shortcomings when you achieve continuous success. It’s only when you face failure that you learn so much about yourself. Failure gave me a chance to understand my strengths and weaknesses. Since then, self-awareness has empowered me to make better decisions, and it is because of that awareness that I am pursuing my MBA today.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Post-MBA, I want to be a Product Manager at a technology company such as Amazon. I am passionate about finding solutions to day-to-day problems, and I have the enthusiasm to implement those solutions with the knowledge I have gained. A product management role will allow me to keep following my passion for solving problems through my products.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In five years, I see myself heading a line of products at a leading technology company. In the long term, I aim to steer a company as a Chief Strategy or Executive Officer and create frameworks for sustainable long-term growth.