2019 MBAs To Watch: Akshita Singh, Indiana University (Kelley)

Akshita Singh

Indiana University Kelley, School of Business

“A technology nerd, who loves to meet people from different backgrounds and hear their stories.”

Hometown: Varanasi, India

Fun fact about yourself: I have lived in nine cities and studied in six schools in India because of my father’s transferrable job. While I threw tantrums as a kid whenever my parents told me that we had to move to a new city, I soon realized the benefit of exploring new cultures and befriending people who are quite different from me.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Birla Institute of Technology and Science, India- B.Tech in Electronics Engineering and M.S. in Chemistry

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Flipkart (the largest e-commerce firm in India, according to Business Analyst)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Shutterfly, Redwood City, Calif., customer strategy MBA intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I really enjoyed my internship at Shutterfly and I am currently exploring full-time opportunities.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Conduct Review Committee – Upholding academic and professional conduct for 400 MBA students
  • Vice President of Cultural Initiatives, Asian MBA Association
  • Global Business and Social Enterprise (GLOBASE), Vietnam – Student consultant for a photo-editing social enterprise firm
  • Forte Fellowship Award ­– Scholarship awarded for exemplary leadership and community involvement
  • Selected to be one of the leadership coaches for first-year students

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Hosting cross-cultural talks called Chai Chat is my proudest moment at Kelley. My Asian MBA leadership team and I wanted to promote a safe space where students could come and ask each other about their cultures. We encouraged them to ask questions they felt uncomfortable asking in a public space. We had participation from more than 10 countries and I was ecstatic to see great dialogues happening at this event.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career?  I am most proud of launching an A/B testing platform at Flipkart (testing platform for changes on website and app). We worked against the clock to create guidelines for teams to launch new products and integrated different projects ranging from logistics to search in a unified platform. This move helped us quantify the benefits derived from launches (incremental revenue of $3 million in a month and twice as many new products as those before this platform) and solve red flags for any customers’ issues on launches before the product was shown to all customers. I am proud to have played a part in improving customer satisfaction. I not only got to manage a cross-functional team of 15 members but was also awarded the Citizenship Award, an annual performance award given to the top 0.1% of employees.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Jamie Pratt (Accounting professor) because of his unbelievable energy and drive to help us understand intricate concepts. He made balancing accounting sheets fun and motivated us to deliver our best during the challenging first semester. He recently retired, and I feel privileged to have been taught by him. If someone told me that accounting would be one of my favorite courses before I started business school, I would have not believed them!

What was your favorite MBA Course? Market-Based Analysis. While the core (first) semester had taught me the marketing principles such as the 4Ps and 5Cs, this elective course helped me learn not only the tools to quantify the success of launching a brand/product, but also the strategies to respond to a competitor’s actions. These concepts helped me bag my internship and successfully craft my recommendations for a go-to-market strategy at Shutterfly. Professor Rockney Walters brought his consulting experience and business cases from around the world to make a lasting impact on my marketing knowledge.

Why did you choose this business school? My interview with Jim Holmen, director of admissions and financial aid, helped me tremendously in choosing this school. He spoke of the collaborative atmosphere at Kelley and the connections that students build over the two years. Having stayed in a college town for four years during my undergrad, I was excited to repeat this experience. I wanted to be a part of a small school where I could get an opportunity to know almost the entire class through academies, clubs, and electives. Moving to the U.S. for my MBA and choosing Kelley has been a game changer for me.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?  I would urge everyone to be true to themselves. Kelley celebrates diversity and is truly interested to know your story. It wouldn’t necessarily be similar to that of other people who are hoping to get into a business school, and this is completely okay. As long as you have the motivation to pursue an MBA and are genuinely interested to be a part of a close-knit community, you would be appreciated here.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about my school is that a majority of students go to CPG firms, especially due to its location in the Midwest. When I joined Kelley, I was pleasantly surprised to see almost an equal percentage of students pursuing a career in tech. Furthermore, with the help of a strong alumni network and a trend of technology firms opening offices in the Midwest, I hope to see more students interested in a post MBA career in technology, choose Kelley as a target school.

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 not have a definite plan for my career path. Before I landed in the U.S., I was petrified because I was undecided on the industry I wanted to enter after my graduation. Had I known that Kelley has quite a few avenues to gather information to help students make a decision, ranging from roundtables with more than 40 companies to alumni and peer chats, my feet wouldn’t be shaking on the first day of business school. I found comfort in quite a few of my peers who were in the same boat as me and realized that it was better to keep an open mind about the opportunities that MBA offers.

MBA alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? Kelley has taught me the nuances of looking at the bigger picture while diving into the smaller details. Electives across marketing, finance, analytics, and law have helped me analyze data and make a decision by quantifying the impact on all areas of a business. Furthermore, building relationships in Kelley and networking with firms across industries have enriched my business acumen. These were some of the skills I wanted to enhance at a business school and I feel quite happy with my transformation over these two years.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? There are quite a few that come across my mind, but if I were to pick one, it would be Tyler Yoder. He truly embodies the five values of our business school. We met during the orientation week and got to know each other in the B2B marketing academy. Tyler personifies collaboration and has never shied away from helping a Kelley, whether it be conducting review session before an accounting exam or baking cupcakes to raise money for the NGO he was working within India. His excellent work ethic and passion to make the most of every opportunity he gets amazes me. I aspire to be as committed to work and people as he is. I am excited to see him grow as a leader and hear great news about his career. It has been an absolute pleasure knowing him as a peer and a friend. Thank you, Tyler!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents had the biggest influence on my decision. Rising above their humble backgrounds, they have been successful in their individual careers and have inculcated values and work ethics in my life. I am inspired by their ability to lead large organizations and empathize with their employees. I want to combine the learnings I have received by following their careers with a formal education in business.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Post. This movie presents an excellent case of an ethical dilemma in business and shows the evolution of a woman leader in a workplace dominated by men. It means a great deal to me, especially now, when I am about to re-enter the corporate world. It has helped me understand how I can evolve into an authentic leader who stays true to her values, even in the face of adversity.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? During my leadership coaching workshop, I learned about TACOS- teaching, advising, coaching, and storytelling. These are 5 ways of acting as a coach. We spent almost 2 hours discussing these terms and I invariably started craving for some delicious tacos!

“If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…taking culinary lessons to perfect my cooking capability and later, starting a food channel on YouTube.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less?  I would add the tuition, fees and the opportunity cost of not earning a paycheck for two years to get to approximately $180K (over 2 years). I believe my MBA education was worth more because I was not only able to broaden my business knowledge through classroom learning, but I also forged amazing friendships with my peers who have had a lasting impact on my thinking process. Additionally, as an international student, I benefitted from various networking events and company visits that helped me understand the aspects of Corporate America.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  1. Visit at least 25 states in the U.S. before the end of this year (I am currently on number 13).
  2. Adopt a dog.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As someone who is prone to cracking bad jokes, genuinely cares about each of her classmates and wants to help them achieve their goals and aspirations.

Hobbies? Traveling, cooking, dancing and watching Cricket.

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

“Akshita has undertaken a wide range of activities while at Kelley. She serves as chair of our Conduct Review Committee, ensuring that our values of integrity and professionalism are upheld in the MBA program. She has been one of the leaders of the Asian MBA Association, planning a variety of student activities and events. She served as a consultant to a small business in Hanoi as part of our GLOBASE Vietnam program. Akshita also was chosen for a small ad hoc committee which worked to provide resources and support for our international students. She has undertaken every activity with enthusiasm, thoughtfulness, and dedication, and she has excelled in her studies as well. She is a model of excellence, integrity, and professionalism.”

Gale Gold Nichols, CPCC

Director of Student Services and Global Programs

Full-Time MBA Program

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