Meet the MBA Class of 2021: The Go-Getters

Rahul Sekhar Rajasekharan Nair

The University of Texas at Austin, McCombs School of Business

“An unholy alliance of eternal optimism and curiosity.”

Hometown: Trivandrum, Kerala (India)

Fun Fact About Yourself: I can converse in 4 Indian languages (Product of growing up as a military brat while traveling across India)

Undergraduate School and Major: Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology; Bachelor’s degree in Avionics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Systems Engineer at Indian Space Research Organization (the space agency of the Government of India)

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I have been a part of more than 35 launches and each was a great feat in itself. However, my biggest accomplishment is that I had the opportunity to be a part of a high-level team to facilitate, analyze, and document best practices from different domains of rocket operations. I authored a report on it, which has since served as a reference for zero-defect delivery programs.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I would say it’s the collaborative and friendly nature. I was astonished at how eager my future classmates were to help one another out, be it for the visa process or the pre-arrival juggernaut. Every single person I’ve interacted with is like a walking expert in his/her field. The sheer diversity of experiences is amazing.

What makes Austin such a great place to earn an MBA? Austin knows how to keep it weird. It is the best city to live in America for several years running! Texas is going to be the engine of American growth and Austin will be right at the heart of it.

Aside from your classmates and location, 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? One of the things I found most attractive about McCombs was the myriad real-world learning opportunities that it offers. The MBA+ micro consulting, the Board Fellows program, etc. provide immense exposure to one’s target industry while at the same time enabling you to network amongst the right crowd.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I would like to be a Board Fellow and be a part of non-profit decision-making process. This will allow me to experience the entire gamut of nonprofit operations while at the same time enabling me to contribute back to society. That’s the Longhorn way of doing things.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I come from a niche industry (Space Technology). I was asked how that could impact my time at McCombs and beyond. Fortunately, I was able to convince the interviewer that my unique experience is my biggest strength. I add to the diversity of opinions and viewpoints. I could lead discussions related to the space technology and connect my peers, who aspire to be entrepreneurs in the field of space to my network of domain experts.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? My years at ISRO taught me the value of precise questioning and constructive confrontation while working with different teams as part of launch operations. However, I wanted to broaden my business understanding and pursue bigger responsibilities. An MBA was the logical next step, it was time to level up.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I was fortunate enough to get into ISBs PGP as well as IIM-Bs EPGP programs.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? For me, the most important factors were the school’s culture as well as exposure to my target industry. Austin being a tech hub was perfect for my post-MBA aspirations. As for the school’s culture, I got a glimpse of it while interacting with current students. I was able to gauge the passion and the pride they had for the school. I got the same feeling when I interacted with alums. I found them invested in me, and they were more than willing to provide constructive feedback whenever I approached them. I knew right away that I wanted to be apart of this family. I wanted to be a Longhorn.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? At the age of four, I was diagnosed with ventricular septal defect, basically a hole in the heart. It gave my parents many sleepless nights as they woke up to find me blue all over due to hypoxia. This had stunted my physical growth and curtailed me from living an active lifestyle. However, I was fortunate that with time, it resolved on its own. Over the years, I was able to make incremental progress on my health. This has taught me the value of optimism. As long as there’s hope, it’s not over yet.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I would be working on my own boutique consulting firm, enabling startups and entrepreneurs to network and scale up their ventures in niche technology domains like space. Hopefully, I’d have completed an Ironman challenge and made some headway in learning French.

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