Meet Washington Foster’s MBA Class Of 2020

Shobhit Gupta        

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

Adventurer – Seeker – Artist – Aspiring character of an Ayn Rand Novel or a Tin-Tin Chronicle!”

Hometown: Lucknow, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I love singing and break into a song in any mood! And keep dreaming of having my own band someday.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala, India

Electrical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Founder and CEO – Poletalks

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I firmly believe that my experiences since college to build teams, experiences, and network really came together in founding my first venture – Poletalks. The journey of three years of scaling an idea to a sustainable enterprise touching 100K+ people through a team of 15 driven individuals has created memories for life. However, the accomplishment was the personal transformation – it really brought my deepest vulnerabilities to the fore and humbled me in the process. It taught me how it is all about the people at the end of the day which forms your biggest strength to prevail.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Foster is making sure that our group of 125 is a tight bunch. The career management team flew down to Bangalore, India to interact with the Asia Pacific students. The warmth, energy, and cohesion of the group was inspiring. But what really struck during our first formal workshop together was how the whole group of really smart folks from all fields was meeting you every day to discuss one project – “You”. The tone was set to be real; natural and honest in responses. This made the outcomes relevant and fun.

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? Foster was my clear choice for the clear personalization of the program. The admission committee, professors, and welcome weekend made it obvious that these are the people who have put a lot of effort to know me (my background, aspirations and personality) and that I can trust them with two critical years of my young career. This is culture prevails even in the academic calendar where we have the chance to customize half of our program. As I said earlier, this aligned to my values of building deep relationships and taking ownership which made Foster the right place to be.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am really interested to work at the Arthur Burke Center for Entrepreneurship. Seattle has a burgeoning ecosystem for young startups like Flyhomes, Elfbox, etc and I am stoked to be in touch with a couple of them. I am also interested in the Consulting Club to meet and work with industry leaders to understand the hard questions facing their business today. In past time – I will shout out to Mt Rainer and scale it soon as a part of the Adventure Club.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I was satisfied with my work and career progression. I could see a good growth trajectory too. But, I felt a need to work at scale. The tough questions are being faced by people, organizations, and communities who are hitting the ceiling each day in innovation, operations, and culture. The MBA really brings out the people who have faced that in a room and helps you to develop a well-founded perspective. I aspire to take that for “Shobhit at scale” phase of my career post-MBA.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I could see that I lacked certain qualities to become a well-rounded manager. Be it finance, strategy or operations – the MBA serves a toolkit that helps you to structure your thought process. This makes self-learning and growth easier throughout life as you can measure the improvement in your decision-making and back it up with metrics and data. Hence, I did not take the usual route of Return on Investment or Cost of missing out two years in your career but more self-development model that made it certain that I need an MBA.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied at USC Marshall, Texas McCombs and Rotman School of Management.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized location, people, and brand in that order. I studied the placement record, alumni presence, business research statistics in terms of published papers of professors and university ecosystem beyond the B-School itself. I talked to Psychology, Petroleum and Computer Science graduates of the university in my network to understand the essence of the culture. I visited the campuses and attended classes to get a vibe of the fit. Finally, I invested heavily in LinkedIn networking over two years before applying. This helped to develop a relationship with students who became alumni and I could witness their transformation first-hand. It really helps to decide the right fit if you can see a prospective career you want to have being played out by a student currently in the MBA program.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? In context of life – it goes way back to 2010 when I was out for a summer long mountaineering expedition for the first time in my life. Climbing a mountain with a group is much like life where you go up, get tired, fall and get back up but you prevail. It developed a deep sense of commitment in whatever I did post that and brought discipline and work ethic from a young age.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to work closely in building, managing products and strategies at scale.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Probably being part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem as an investor or advisor helping young startups and professionals.

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