2019 Best & Brightest MBAs: Anish Bhatnagar, University of Chicago (Booth)

Anish Bhatnagar

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

A tech-loving finance junkie who’s lived in six countries across three continents.”

Hometown: Wellington, New Zealand

Fun fact about yourself: When I was 14, I ran a Legend of Zelda fan website with three (unpaid) employees and 200 daily visitors.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Chicago, M.S. in Computer Science, 2019 (expected). University of Chicago, B.S. in Mathematics and B.A. in Economics, 2013.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Citigroup Inc, Associate – Derivatives Structuring

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? CommonBond, New York City

Where will you be working after graduation? Working for my start-up, Finch, as Co-Founder and CEO. Finch is streamlining derivatives processing for financial back-offices.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Founding co-chair of the Chicago Booth Fintech club.
  • Elected Member of the Board of Directors, Chicago Men’s A Cappella: a college glee club.
  • Volunteer for the Art of Living: one of the world’s largest volunteer-based non-profits, dedicated to creating a stress-free, violence-free society.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Pulling off two degrees – an MBA, and a Master’s in Computer Science degree – in two years. The joint degree helps me achieve my goal of learning both the technical and the business skills I need to become a strong technical founder. I’m most proud of this achievement because it will force me to ask the right questions that will get me to the ground level of business issues, and satisfy my need to understand problems as deeply as I can before coming up with a solution.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of being the youngest-ever selectee for the “TIGER” training program at Citigroup for high-performing employees and placing first among course graduates. I guess I’m most proud of it because I somehow convinced my presentation team at the end of the course to present a totally unconventional skit that involved simulating how a real-world transaction played out on the trading floor. It was a lot of fun and the judges enjoyed it.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Anuj Shah, Negotiations. Professor Shah made my Thursday (early) mornings that Fall quarter the highlight of my week with his entertaining anecdotes and outrageous energy. At the same time, he cured my fear of asking for “more” from someone else by framing negotiations in intuitive economic terms and pointing out that often people are more than willing to help if you just ask.

Why did you choose this business school? I wanted my business school experience to propel me to entrepreneurship in the financial sector. Chicago Booth is the perfect unique blend of finance powerhouse – Eugene Fama, Raghuran Rajan – and entrepreneurship resources – The Polsky Center, New Venture Challenge – to fit my pretty peculiar demands for business school. Having attended UChicago as an undergrad, I was also confident that Booth would provide the high level of academic rigor I was looking for.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Booth wants to know you’re not going to waste the massive amount of choice and freedom you have at this business school to craft your experience. So, figure out what you want to get out of your business school experience, professionally and personally. It doesn’t matter what it is, as long as it’s ambitious and genuine. Then map out the specific resources at Booth that will help you get there – academic, extracurricular, and social – and think about in what ways these are unique to Booth. Make sure you articulate how your goals intersect with the unique Booth resources in your essays and interview.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that it’s “a finance school”! The finance courses are world-class, but I’ve had amazing classes at Booth in a wide variety of disciplines, from behavioral psychology (“Negotiations” and “Managing in Organizations”) to entrepreneurship (“Entrepreneurial Discovery” and “New Venture Strategy”). It’s no wonder that even my classmates who don’t come from financial backgrounds or aren’t looking at a financial career post-Booth love the academic environment and have had amazing professors and classes all over the curriculum.

What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? I wish I knew that business school is more a marathon than a sprint. Sure, it’s more of a sprint than undergrad. But business school has a degree of progression, both academically and personally, as the quarters (semesters, for most MBA programs) roll on. So it’s helpful to set long-term goals and figure out the best sequence of courses and personal activities to get you there. I think some of courses I took my first year would have been better for me as a second-year once I was ready to approach business problems in a more mature way.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Atsushi Yamazaki, because he is clearly superhuman. He manages a huge variety of intense projects at business school, including playing for a band, contributing to a start-up, working an internship, and taking a bunch of difficult courses. He is also incredibly humble and an excellent friend.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? In my old job, the regional manager of my division indirectly influenced me the most. He was an excellent manager: he somehow managed to maintain a good relationship with everyone he worked with while leading the region to consistently (and ruthlessly) exceed our goals. He attended business school, while many managers in the Sales & Trading business did not, and I felt that had a strong influence on his quality as a manager.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…probably starting a business out of a garage, but with less business knowledge and fewer meaningful connections than I have now.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? It’s hard to say, but I think it’s worth around a million dollars, so definitely more than what I paid for it. I base my judgment on the newfound upside I feel I have found in my career as a result of coming to business school.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Publish a book and become fluent in Mandarin.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? An intense Boothie with a wry sense of humor and occasionally charming nerdiness.

Hobbies? I am an avid meditator and have been since I was 11. I also enjoy singing and writing pop-rock songs in my spare time.

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

“This musical triple-Maroon (holder of three University of Chicago degrees) wraps his love for learning, his wonderful personality, his desire to build businesses that improve the lives of others into one immensely talented man. He has the risk tolerance, the self-awareness, and the toolkit to build successful businesses.”

Stacey Kole
Deputy Dean for MBA Programs

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