2019 MBAs To Watch: Kapil Kumar Goyal, U.C.-Irvine (Merage)

Kapil Kumar Goyal         

Paul Merage School of Business at University of California, Irvine

“Sailing through highs and lows, Kapil always stays strong.”

Hometown: Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India

Fun fact about yourself: I am afraid of heights and in order to overcome my fear, I did sky diving twice in the past year

Undergraduate School and Degree: Amity University, B.Tech in Computer Science

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Hotelogix, Role – Account Manager

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Verizon Media Group, Los Angeles, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Verizon Media Group, Role: Product Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Recipient of the Merage Faculty Fellowship Award: Merit-based scholarship awarded for academic achievement and work experience.
  • President of Operations Management Association: I was elected as the club president by all the club members and the board leaders to lead the club and to make an impact by catering to the diverse set of students. I have been instrumental in increasing the club visibility by around 150% by creating inter-club and community partnerships, hosting networking events, and designing clear communication and a marketing plan to inform students about the mission and vision of the club. I have organized a range of free and open-to-all events to offer better networking and learning opportunities. Further, I have made sure that all the club events, meetings, and seminars are meaningful and relevant to the target student segment.
  • Vice President (Technology) of Merage Consulting Association: Since I have a strong technical background, I accepted this position at the Consulting Club to use disruptive technologies to better manage the club. I have significantly optimized the user interface for the club website and implemented new ways to socialize events and for promotions by offering personalized experience via targeted advertising, advanced analytics, and survey analysis. Further, I have switched all the internal communication to the cloud to increase visibility, transparency, and mobility among the team members.
  • Vice President (Marketing) of Challenge for Charity (C4C): I have always believed in giving back to society and thus I joined this club. During my association with the club, I have worked on building creative flyers and marketing promotions for the magnitude of events such as beach clean-up activities, Special Olympics, and Junior Achievement USA.
  • Community work during Junior Achievement and Habitat for Humanity

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In the Strategic Management course, my team got the ‘Innovator of the Year Award’ for our outstanding industry analysis during an online simulation. We thoroughly analyzed the foreground data, including the reports, before entering our decision and were able to get the maximum revenue. I am proud of this achievement since this was the first real-time simulation where I got to apply the concepts (capabilities analysis, portfolio analysis, alignment analysis) I had learned during the class. During the computer simulation, I played the role of a Brand Manager for 10 simulated years and made decisions in the areas of situational analysis, segmentation, targeting, positioning, and marketing mix. The decisions were an outcome of an in-depth analysis of the sales by market/product graph, the previous year’s R&D spending chart, sales chart, feature performance, industry news, and income statement.

This simulation was important to me since I got a chance to study a problem and to get immediate practical feedback at the end of each stage of the abstraction.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Working as an Account Manager with Hotelogix, I used to manage 150+ clients across the EMEA region and was the highest point of escalation for these clients. In 2016, I got a request from a client to discontinue the Hotelogix services. The situation was critical since he was a premium client who was using our software in 10+ hotels in Dubai – and this churn would have a high negative impact on the overall company revenue. Before going on a call with the client, I did my analysis in terms of the recent support tickets, complaints, and new product-feature requests from that client. During the first call with the client, I learned that our competitor had approached our client and offered to provide its services at a lower price than what was offered by Hotelogix.

Since I had a great rapport with the client, I was able to ask him to wait for 2-3 days before making any decision. After the call, I did an in-depth competitor analysis to understand its offerings and prepared a list of how Hotelogix was offering a far better and a seamless solution as compared to anyone in the market. In my second call with the client, I was able to list down the pros of using Hotelogix vs. cons of using the competitor’s software. I also offered a paid report for no additional cost and was able to retain the customer. The same client later referred 10 more properties to Hotelogix over the course of next six months, thereby positively impacting the revenue forecast.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is John Joseph, who taught me Strategic Management. Professor Joseph’s research lies at the intersection of strategy and organization theory and it has been published in the top-rated journals and in peer-reviewed publications across the globe. I love his class because he always does an incredible job leading the class, which forces the students to analyze and critique the other side of the thought process. He always initiates discussion in the class rather than asking students to write assignments and focuses on teaching the concepts. All his classes are very informative and offer smart and useful insights about the business subject.

He has a very rich and diverse experience outside academia, which includes managerial positions in the fields of pharmaceutical, technology, and non-profit sectors. This truly reflects in his style of teaching and his way of communication. He really understands the strategic landscape and teaches extremely informative, interesting, and relevant real-world situations that have been faced by top companies. I am confident that I will apply the learnings from this class in my professional career. He is one of the best professors I have ever met.

What was your favorite MBA Course? My favorite MBA course has been Sustainability and Competitive Advantage. This course gave me an opportunity to learn different ways of driving growth and profitability using various aspects of sustainability. This course provided a platform for experiential learning and I learned about concepts such as Cradle to Cradle, 6D’s of Exponential Technologies (which are Digitized, Deceptive, Disruptive, Demonetized, Dematerialized and Democratized), The Story of Chessboard, and Politics & Policies.

We had Kevin O’ Donnell from General Mills as a guest speaker on the second day. He talked about the field to market strategy and how sustainability plays a role from farm to fork to landfill. I learned about the challenges faced by the company in implementing sustainability in its operations. The knowledge shared on various drivers of sustainability, risk-taking, and capital showed us a broader picture of an organization.

Later on, supply chain sustainability in the digital economy was discussed. Here, we learned about issues such as the speed of change, scalable change, aligning with business needs, and constraints and reputation risk vs measurable impact. One most important takeaways from this course was the Bullwhip effect. It is a distribution channel phenomenon in which forecasts yield supply chain inefficiencies. It refers to increasing swings in inventory in response to shifts in customer demand as one moves further up the supply chain.

Overall, this course has broadened my thinking horizon and has given me a new perspective of sustainability to take into action while thinking about the global supply chain.

Why did you choose this business school? First, my initial conversation with the current students and alumni of this school really helped me understand the culture. Further, I was very interested in pursuing product management after my MBA and this school gave me an option to take electives focusing on product management. A lot of alumni from Merage are also working as product managers in top companies and this became a key factor in my decision-making.

Second, I was interested in the opportunity to undergo experiential learning and learn by working on real-time challenges faced by companies in SoCal. This would give me great industry exposure and an opportunity to apply the concepts learned in class.

Third, I was very interested in taking a few courses such as Edge, which would enable valuable interaction and bring real-world perspectives into the curriculum. I also pursued strategic management electives such as competitive intelligence, sustainability and competitive advantage, which would help me learn the logic behind decision making and help manage both internal and external environments to find solutions to highly complex problems. Organizational behavior topics such as cross-cultural management, power and influence, organizational commitment and incentives would help me understand new organizational growth, survival and evolution.

Lastly, I chose Merage because of its diverse student body and its amazing faculty.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? My 2 cents here would be the following:

  • Networking is the key. Try connecting with Merage current students and alumni to learn more about the school, the culture, and the experience
  • Attend and actively participate in all the prospective student events such as seminars, class visits, and career fairs which are hosted by the school

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Merage is that it is a pure product management school and this is strictly not true. We have a lot of people, who pursue a career (internship and full-time jobs) in diverse functions such as marketing, finance, operations, business development, strategy, supply chain, HR, real estate and many more. Merage school alumni are in almost every industry across the globe and they are more than willing to help and guide current students.

In fact, Merage has a very strong alumni base which proves to be very instrumental when any student is looking for a job or industry switch or for guidance. Further, the MBA class is very diverse and thus it offers an exceptional peer learning opportunity.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? One thing I wish I would have known before starting my MBA program was that not everyone attends business school for the same reason. While some students are looking to start a new business, others are looking to accelerate or change careers, while exploring a new industry or a function. Further, my classmates (with varied experience, background, culture) are super supportive, which gives me an extraordinary opportunity to learn and to contribute during classes, seminars, team meetings, and varied events. Prior to my MBA, I did not know the relevance and importance of networking. In the past two years, I have been to guest speaker events, offsite and class trips, networking events, luncheon(s), informational sessions, site visits, and job fairs. This has given me an immense opportunity to connect with people from different industries across the globe.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? The Merage School has been transformative for me for four reasons:

  • Working with team members from different continents has given me a global mindset. Working on diverse projects with diverse people has given me a new perspective of viewing and solving the same problem in a different manner
  • MBA has given me a safe platform to work on new concepts, generate new perspectives, and to do an in-depth analysis of many industries across the globe. This has greatly increased my cross-industry knowledge regarding best business practices and the constantly changing market situation
  • I have learned to think critically and to do an objective analysis of the facts before making any reasoned judgment. During my MBA, I have learned to not consume or act on the simply given arguments and conclusions, but to evaluate those arguments before jumping to a conclusion
  • The Sustainability and Competitive Advantage course has really transformed the way I used to look at industries, digital growth and how we need to remake the way we make things

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Max Lechner, my classmate, and a good friend. Max attended undergrad at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he majored in Economics. After earning his bachelor’s degree, Max joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as an Intelligence Officer with the First Marine Logistics Group in Camp Pendleton. He is one of the board members for the Merage Consulting Association and I have worked with him on a few projects and on multiple cases. He is highly committed, innovative, has great communication skills, a strong sense of entrepreneurship, and has always guided me throughout my MBA journey. From winning first place in the New Venture Competition to conducting podcasts, he has always inspired me to be more creative and to think ‘out of the box’.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My parents influenced me to take this decision to pursue business in college. Since childhood, I have been a great learner and have loved exploring new ideas, products, and solutions. I come from a business class family and both my parents are entrepreneurs. I got involved in my family business at an early age and learned the basics of business from my parents. However, I strongly felt that I was not 100% efficient since I was not an expert in domains such as finance, strategic planning, and competitive market analysis. The eagerness to nurture my management skills and the support from my parents made me pursue an MBA.

What is your favorite movie about business? Something Ventured: It is a 2011 documentary film, which investigated the emergence of American venture capitalism. The biggest lesson I gained from this film was that behind every successful company are a handful of leaders who saw opportunities and who had the vision and the courage to fight the odds to prove their point. I further learned that innovation and economic growth is primarily driven by visionary risk-takers.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? The goofiest MBA term, which I have encountered is ‘Blue Ocean & Red Ocean’

Blue Ocean is a way of describing a market that has not been conquered by competitors or great white sharks.

Red Ocean is a way of describing the market, where products are commodities and where the ocean is blood red due to fierce cut-throat competition.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…an athlete pursuing a career in extreme sports such as free climbing (soloing), base jumping, creeking or big wave surfing.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? The MBA has been a life-transforming experience for me, and it would be wrong to weigh this invaluable MBA experience & learnings against a dollar value. Further, what I have gained from my MBA is worth more than what I have paid for it.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

  • To participate in the bull running festival in Spain
  • Visit Brazil during the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro festival

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? As a technology enthusiast, who is passionate about making a difference and who is always there to support them.

Hobbies? Doing extreme/action sports, photography and interior designing

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

“I have known Mr. Goyal for the last one year, as a student in the Paul Merage School of Business and a student in my Managerial Finance class that I taught in fall 2017. He is smart, creative, hardworking, passionate about finance, and a focused MBA student who will do very well in his future career.

The following points describe Mr. Goyal’s activity and my interaction with him in class and outside of class.

  • Excelled and mastered materials in Managerial Finance.
  • Actively participating in the discussion during class, rising creative questions which reflect the insight of the course materials.
  • Truly cares about education which is evident based on the superior quality of his work.
  • Willingness to learn with a positive attitude and cooperation with his peers.
  • Shows enthusiasm for learning the materials of managerial finance as well as resolute desire to understand new theories and ideas.

In summary, Kapil Goyal is a promising and motivated student and a fine individual as well.”

Dr. Mor M. Haziza

Department of Finance

The Paul Merage School of Business

UC, Irvine

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