Meet The Imperial MBA Class Of 2019

Anirudh Dastidar

Imperial College Business School

Hometown: Vadodara, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have seen large parts of Scotland without knowing how to drive a car and was appointed as a VisitScotland Community Ambassador based on my knowledge of the country’s public transport system (documented on my travel blog).

Undergraduate Graduate School and Major: Bachelor of Technology in Computer Engineering, SVNIT, India. MSc Computer Engineering, University of Florida.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Technical Program Manager at Amazon (Edinburgh, UK and Seattle, USA).

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Working at Amazon as a software engineer allowed me to deliver big business and customer experience impact to millions of end users. One of my personal favourite accomplishments was my work in the Amazon Marketplace organization for the team that supported 3rd party sellers worldwide manage their orders. The team had a really high-operational load and its legacy order reporting system was starting to show cracks due to unprecedented scale.

Although my main project focused on replacing the legacy system with a more scalable replacement, I focused heavily on reducing the high severity operational load of the team by 30% by executing a number of technical deep dives so that our systems could navigate peak periods while our team built the new order reporting system. The upshot was that our team went from worst to first in terms of operational load across the organization and I was commended by the VP and Director of Amazon Marketplace for my efforts.

In the MBA context, this project and its results showed me the need for organizations to have operational excellence nailed down before a successful digital transformation can be achieved.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Enthusiastic. The diverse cohort members spanning 30 nationalities bring with them a lot of varied perspectives and energy during discussions in lectures, group assignments and the pub.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? I’ve been a science and technology geek for the best part of my life and studying at Imperial has always been one of my dreams given its storied contribution to all things STEM. The innovation focus of the Business School seemed like a natural fit for the kind of environment I would be able to thrive in. Plus, the central London location obviates the need for organising treks to get to conferences, networking events and campus visits.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am going a bit off-piste by choosing the MBAT (MBA Tournament held annually at HEC Paris) as the event I am looking to most forward to. I play a few sports in my spare time during my MBA and have always wanted to experience inter-collegiate play which the MBAT should allow me to do. Our Full-Time MBA cohort’s upcoming Global Experience Week in Zambia comes a close second as I have never been to Africa before!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I have learned a lot during my eight year stint at Amazon and found my career trajectory shifting organically from solving world-scale business problems by writing code to the strategy leadership aspects of the company. An MBA degree seemed like the perfect vehicle to spend time learning about the fundamentals of business in an environment where I interact with a people from a very diverse set of backgrounds. This would allow me to accelerate my career pivot towards a technology leadership role while expanding my mindset and perspectives. Lastly, I wanted to mitigate any job prospect curveballs Brexit could throw at UK-based expats (in terms of currency strength, etc.) by being a student on Brexit day in 2019.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? The investment decision was simplified immensely for me as I was offered the Advisory Board scholarship by the Imperial College Business School. The funding has really enabled me to focus more of my time attending conferences and networking events across London and I am grateful for the generosity of the Business School Advisory Board. I had also saved enough money to cover my living expenses and decided to take the leap this year.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Oxford Saïd Business School, Cambridge Judge Business School and London Business School.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I found attending the various on campus Open Days extremely valuable for determining fit. I got a good feel for a School’s ethos, teaching methodology, cohort strength, and campus life during open day visits. It was also rewarding to audit a real lecture to understand class participation dynamics in a typical MBA lecture and confirm that I could last a two-hour lecture after being away from academia for such a long time. The fact that I was already working in the UK was a big enabler in doing campus visits.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I come from a financially disadvantaged background and landed in the US for my MSc with just enough money to pay my first semester fees and two months of living expenses. The only practical way for me to fund my MSc was to find a student job to support my living expenses and eke out an assistantship to waive my tuition fees for the other two semesters. Thanks to a few friends from my undergraduate who were already studying at the University of Florida and their network, I could land both (technology/programming) student jobs in quick succession making my MSc degree a reality and kick-starting my career.

I have always believed that education enables social mobility but this experience taught me the strength of networking and being proactive. For the longest time, I considered myself plain lucky that such a risky move paid off but I do feel now that you make your own luck if you grab onto opportunities you are presented with.

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I plan to move into either a digital strategy consulting or a product management role in one of the top consulting or technology firms in the UK immediately post-MBA. I also have a goal to launch a travel-tech pet project as my first entrepreneurial venture before I am done with my MBA. If I succeed with that goal, then I’d aim to grow its key metrics as time permits.

Where do you see yourself in five years? Ideally, in a position where I have the opportunity to enrich lives in the broader community through my work. I am working on crystallising the paths I could take to achieve this medium-term goal that I have set for myself, but I will strive to come out of my Imperial MBA feeling equipped with the knowledge, network and skill set to make a positive difference to the world.

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