2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Sree Madakkavil, University of Rochester (Simon)

Sree Madakkavil

Simon Business School, University of Rochester

“A genuine & enthusiastic logical thinker who strives to be the best version of herself.”

Hometown: Kerala, India

Fun fact about yourself: Indian classical dancer with 15 years of training.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Amrita School of Engineering, India, Bachelor of Electrical & Electronics Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Larsen & Toubro, Electrical & Automation Division (now part of Schneider Electric) – Assistant Manager (Product Design)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Facebook | Menlo Park, CA

Where will you be working after graduation? Facebook | New Product Introduction- Sourcing Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • VP of Career Management Center & Alumni Affairs – Graduate Business Council
  • Chair – Student Career Leadership Board
  • Student Career Advisor – Career Management Center
  • Co-chair – Class Gift Committee
  • Fellow – Forte Foundation
  • MBA consultant – Xerox
  • Member – 2019 Grad Week Planning Committee

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? One of the things I am most proud of during my years here at Simon Business School was organizing a mock career fair. Here, second-year MBA students represented different companies to first-year MBA candidates in order to prepare them for networking conferences. This new initiative turned out to be very helpful for the students. Not only did the first year students benefit from this, but it also helped encourage better bonds between the first and second year students.

Another initiative I am proud of is conducting focus groups and group sessions by listening to the needs of the students better. I was able to better understand the needs of students from different backgrounds and provide recommendations to career services and implement on them.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of the proudest moments in my professional career is when I secured internship offers from three of my top target companies– Whirlpool (GLDP), Amazon (Sr. Product Manager), Facebook (MBA operations intern). During my internship, I was fortunate to be working alongside very talented, hard-working yet humble people. With the help of the tools and techniques I learned during my internship and diligence, I was able to work through my project and I was very humbled to have been appreciated for my final project and was fortunate to secure a full-time offer at the end of my internship.

What was your favorite MBA Course? There are many courses in Simon that have helped me immensely! One of my favorite subjects is Macroeconomics taught by Assistant Dean Greg Bauer. The course navigates through various essential concepts important to understand the overall working of global economies. Other courses that have been very helpful for me are Marketing Analytics by Professor Haviv Avery and Marketing Research by Prof. Mitch Lovett. These subjects have helped me solidify my understanding of data analysis and real-time usage of analytical tools, which is very important being in this era of big data, wherein you will have to make meaningful decisions by analyzing large volumes of data.

Why did you choose this business school?

I chose Simon Business School for various reasons:

  1. Analytical focus: Being an engineer, I was seeking for a school that would help teach business skills with a strong emphasis on analytics and quants.
  2. Culture: Right from the Admit team to the students, the culture of Simon is very collaborative and welcoming.
  3. Class size: The small class of Simon, wherein the students are able to build better meaningful relationships and enriching one’s experience.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? The most important advice I would give is to be genuine! Be yourself and be prepared to embrace this life-changing experience.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the biggest myths about Simon is that it is mainly for finance people. But Simon is much more than that. Simon has so many great courses and famous professors teaching great courses in different areas such as Pricing, Strategy, etc. Career-wise, there are also plenty of opportunities beyond finance, which include consulting, technology, marketing, operations, and general management

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I had known that it is okay to feel overwhelmed. When you do feel that, that’s when you know that you learning and growing as a person and pushing yourself.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Doing my MBA has been one of the best decisions I have made in my life! This journey has helped me grow in many ways. First and foremost, it has helped me analyze problems from totally different angles than I used to (being an engineer, I used to focus more on the product and neglected commercial aspects). Second, time management is something you will learn to be good at, considering the time constraints and various commitments you have. However, the most important way an MBA has helped me is analyzing my strengths and weaknesses and understanding how best to use them. I feel this is very important to grow as a person.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I have had the good fortune to work with really amazing and accomplished people during the MBA, so it is difficult to pick one person when I admire many of my accomplished classmates! However, I can say I admire the following the most:

  • Aparna Unnithan is an inspiring, smart, and encouraging person. She is also technically gifted and has an amazing attitude.
  • Nikhil Pinto is an organizational genius and a person who always gives his best to everything he does.
  • Mike Alcazaren is one of the most passionate people I have met and has many inspiring ideas.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? One of the persons who encouraged me the most to pursue my dream to study further and do my MBA is my husband. Before embarking on this journey, I was deciding between if I wanted to do my MBA or MS. Being an MBA graduate himself, he helped me to see the merits of an MBA. I am very happy with the decision and thankful for having him with me throughout my MBA journey.

What is your favorite movie about business? One of my all-time favorite movies/ books is The Godfather. I feel it teaches many valuable lessons in business as well such as the importance of building a network, trusting the right people, knowing about your competition, product, and customers.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…doing my Masters in Environmental Engineering or in Renewable Energy (had given my GRE as well).”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? It is impossible to quantify the value of such a rich experience! I don’t regret the decision at all and it was definitely worth much more than what I paid for.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • Visit at least fifty countries and taste the best dish and sweet dish in each country
  • Adopt a pet dog

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like to be remembered as a strong, positive person who is a go-getter.

Hobbies? Dancing (trained in Indian classical dance forms and trying different dance forms), reading, painting (oil), cooking, hiking.

What made Sree such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2019?  

“Simon’s quantitative MBA program appealed to Sree Madakkavil’s analytical nature as a female engineer who had been awarded design patents in the industrial equipment industry in India before coming to the US. A critical, and data-driven thinker with a focus on continuous improvement, Sree leveraged those skills to the betterment of the Simon community.

Sree took a leadership role at Simon on the Graduate Business Council (GBC) as the liaison to the Benet Career Center. Serving as President of the Benet Career Leadership Board, one of her goals was to provide greater clarity and transparency for students in job search, by using historical comparative analytical data to show employment trends and progress. Through various communication channels and platforms (including advocating for and implementing “Slack” for the MBA class), she provided insight and messaging to reinforce the activities and successes of the MBA class leading to greater student awareness and satisfaction.

Sree also took an additional role in the Benet Career Center as a Student Career Advisor or “SCA” providing job search coaching to both MBA and Master’s students. An advocate of early preparation for success, Sree organized a day-long “mock career fair” event to provide practice opportunities, guidance, and support so incoming MBA and MS students would be better prepared and confident at national career fairs. Her efforts contributed to one of the most successful career fair outcomes for Simon candidates.

Having worked before Simon as a woman in the male-dominated field of engineering and manufacturing, Sree recognized the need for female leaders to develop strength and competitiveness.  Drawing on her background as an athlete and overachiever herself, Sree became a quiet champion for female MBA leaders and a voice within the Simon Women in Business (SWIB) club. Sree shared her drive, ambition and focus for success with students in one on one meetings and workshops through her involvement with both the Benet Career Center and professional clubs.

Lastly, Sree is passionate about dance – most especially an ancient and traditional Indian art form of “Bharatnatyam”. While in India, she co-founded an arts academy teaching dance to over 150 enrolled students. At Simon, she gracefully performed and shared her love for dance, contributing to Simon’s culturally rich and diverse community.

Sree is a leader and a role model for success with her passion, energy, and enthusiasm for giving back to ensure the professional and personal growth of her classmates.”

Wendy Clay

Executive Director

Benet Career Center

Simon Business School




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