2019 MBAs To Watch: Kshitij Verma, IMD

Kshitij Verma

IMD Business School

“Management professional with strong cross-functional leadership experience across geographies. Avid traveler, animal lover, and conservationist.”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve traveled to over 45 countries and love to share exciting stories from Africa!

Undergraduate School and Degree: IET Lucknow, India | Mechanical engineering (Distinction)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Tata Group, India | General Manager – Business development and Strategic partnerships, Tata Motors

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? WWF South Africa

Where will you be working after graduation? Honeywell, Switzerland as Strategic global marketing leader

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Volunteered to spend summer at WWF in South Africa, where I worked on African Ecological Futures plan. With hands-on experience across the continent, I could bring together the needs of business and society to design policy frameworks for long term ecological sustainability in Africa.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? We worked closely with a Swiss startup focusing on digitalization in the maritime industry. In a short span of time, we worked on multiple facets of setting up a new business – including product development, market penetration, staffing, and funding. Within a few weeks, we had contributed strongly to the company, including representing them at a venture capital forum leading to investments. This was an assignment which tested the application of our learnings at IMD in the real-world under tremendous time and resource pressure.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? One of the largest public transportation deals in West Africa, which I led from conceptualization to execution stage in 18 months. Working under constraints across product development, project financing, long term service contracts, and forex variations, we collaborated closely with multiple stakeholders and challenging timelines. The successful signing of the $200mn deal was witnessed by the Heads of states of 2 countries and was a significant contribution to business.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I found Dr. Ralf Siefert’s courses on Digital supply chain and operations to be extremely well-designed, relevant and infused with useful interactions with industry practitioners. With a strong academic, industry and consulting experience, Ralf used his rich experience and wide network to illustrate concepts useful across industries.

What was your favorite MBA Course? At IMD, leadership is a stream which is focused upon from multiple dimensions throughout the year. I found leadership to be one of the most useful courses as it changed my natural approach to situations, which will come handy for decades to come. The biggest insights were around Learning to fail, Building high-performance teams and Leading with a purpose.

Why did you choose this business school? Having worked at a mid-management level in a global conglomerate, I was specifically looking for an MBA program focused on preparing young managers for a higher set of responsibilities. IMD, with its focus on honing leadership skills, a closely-knit batch of 90 exceptional participants, and a 1-year program duration, was a perfect fit for me.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Visit the campus, meet the faculty and participants, and attend a couple of sessions. You need to be convinced about the fit before the school evaluates the fit. On the assessment day, think about the group’s success instead of just your own.

What is the biggest myth about your school? IMD education is very expensive due to the high cost of living in Switzerland! This is not true in my experience. The IMD program is shorter in duration than other global programs, thus reducing the overall living expenses, and bringing you back to work sooner. In addition, IMD offers merit scholarships to many participants to offset tuition costs.

Think back two years ago. What is the one thing you wish you’d known before starting your MBA program? For me, the motivation behind getting an MBA was to hone the leadership skills needed to run businesses. Leadership is as much about knowing one’s self as it is about academics and professional experience. At IMD, I spent a significant part of the year discovering myself, unearthing the reasons behind my natural instincts – in many cases using this knowledge to perform better under pressure and uncertainty. Had I foreseen the outcomes of the year spent at IMD, the decision to consider an MBA would have been much simpler a couple of years ago.

MBA Alumni often describe business school as transformative. Looking back over the past two years, how has business school been transformative for you? IMD emphasizes the role that self-awareness and improvement play in leadership for the long term. It is this facet of the business education here that was instrumental and transformative for me. Being aware of the sources of one’s strengths, weaknesses and motivation helps one build and sustain winning teams across scenarios.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? It would be the MBA classmates who were parents and sacrificed precious time with their little ones to pursue the course. They balanced work and family life, without compromising on either one. I think this is a quality to admire and practice in one’s professional career.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Sir Ratan Tata, whom I saw build businesses around goals that seemed unattainable but important in the long run, using a relentless focus and commitment to ethics to achieve his goals. I see him as a role model for leadership, establishing, and communicating vision, and drive for results.

What is your favorite movie about business? The Pursuit of Happyness. I was motivated by the protagonist’s ability to dream big, work hard, and handle pressure.

What was the goofiest MBA term or acronym you encountered – and what did it mean? STAR framework, to structure a conversation!

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…limited in my perspective and unaware of the possibilities today at hand.”

What dollar value would you place on your MBA education? Was it worth what you paid for it – worth more or worth less? I believe that any education or experience that helps one grow is invaluable. The MBA at IMD was definitely worth the monetary and non-monetary costs it comes with.

What are the top two items on your bucket list? Traveling back to Ladakh for a vacation and volunteering for impactful assignments towards ecological conservation.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A friend they would love to catch up with anytime.

Hobbies? Swimming, Travelling and reading

What made Kshitij Verma such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2018?

“With 9 years’ experience in the global supply chain, international sales, and corporate strategy, as part of a flagship leadership program, Kshitij has taken on the intensity of the MBA program with grace and rigor. Graduating with honours, as a proud and committed parent, he has expertly managed to balance the heavy workload and family life throughout the program. Now his wife is in the MBA program and he will be managing the home front!”

The MBA Team

Are you a friend of Kshitij? Leave a comment to congratulate him.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.