Meet Toronto Rotman’s MBA Class Of 2020

Akshay A. Baliga

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

“Untiring yet witty analytics geek who loves bringing people together to get the job done.”

Hometown: Bangalore, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I fly drones as part of being a photographer because aerial photography is fun!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Michigan, Industrial and Operations Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Consultant, EY

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Outsourcing an entire non-core manufacturing operation from Minnesota to parts of Mexico and realizing over 80% in labor and efficiency savings. I managed the project from start-to-finish and worked from identifying the potential opportunity and stayed until we figured out how much we were saving when the trucks arrived from Mexico. An amazing couple of months spent travelling between the US and many Mexican cities, in search of perfect partners.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? My classmates are vivid and dedicated. They all come from different walks of life and are eager to meet someone who is completely different from them so that they can enhance themselves

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 flexibility of a program and the size of the class are important to me. I am looking to define my niche in the area of Operations & Strategy. Rotman’s curriculum spoke to me, and the career paths (both full time and internship opportunities) allowed me to understand the freedom and possibilities of what lies next. In terms the class, having a class size of 350 (with five sections of 70 students) makes me feel like I will be in a room that is large enough to expand my horizons, but not so large that I might lose myself in the crowd.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Tough choice between the Rotman Operations Management Association (ROMA) and the Management Consulting Association MCA).

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After having been a management consultant for six years and in two major and opposite economies, I felt that it was time for me to further my education and really define my niche. I had spent a chunk of my professional life working with people much like myself. I realized if I need to start thinking outside the ever so cliched ‘box’, I needed to collaborate, live, and breathe with people who come from different walks of life and different cultures but yet work towards one common goal.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? I figured that this was the best time in my life, personally and professionally, to take the leap of faith and be able to maximize the years of service I would have left to make a meaningful contribution to ever changing corporate landscapes and innovation while hoping to climb the ladder professionally and financially.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Kellogg, IE, LBS, Anderson, Foster, McCombs

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Flexibility of curriculum was important along with the cross section of a typical class (age, industries, backgrounds, etc.). While I wasn’t necessarily targeting a school reputed for a particular occupation, I did make sure that there was a future career in the market the school was situated in. Lastly, I also networked with alumni to get a sense of their typical day at these school because it’s not only important to have time for classwork and team meetings but also to have a life outside school as well.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? The choice I made to move from the United States to India in order to gain experience in a developing economy. I believe that helped me round out my experience and it taught me business in from a very different economy – with a very different sets of practices, opportunities and problems. Moving to India allowed me to bring in practices from the West and experiences that could help my clients, but it also taught me very hard lessons in a constantly changing business landscape where business and politics are so tightly related.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I hope to pursue a career in Strategy Consulting or in Internal Corporate Strategy

Where do you see yourself in five years? Hopefully in a leadership position within my consulting firm’s practice aiming to lead next generation solutions for my clients, building huge solutions for a more efficient tomorrow. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to partner with large clients to plan and execute these projects.