Meet the MBA Class of 2021: The Go-Getters

Mihir Mehan

University of California Berkeley’s Haas School of Business

“Investment banker who measures returns in “smiles generated.”

Hometown: Jaipur, Rajasthan

Fun Fact About Yourself: FIFA nerd. I have played every edition since 2006.

Undergraduate School and Major: Birla Institute of Technology and Sciences, Pilani

B.E. (Honors) Mechanical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Foundation for Rural Entrepreneurship Development (FREND)

Consultant in Operations and Strategy

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Helping to bridge the digital divide in rural India by working to scale the Internet Saathi program, a joint initiative of Google and Tata Trusts. The initiative addresses the gender gap in 250,000 villages across 18 states by engaging ~70,000 women volunteers to successfully train 25 million women to use smartphones and the internet. In 2015, 1 in 10 Internet users in rural India was female. By 2018, four out of every 10 Internet users were female—and we are headed toward parity.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Authentic. The conversations are personal and go beyond small talk. The whole class is friendly, accommodative, and welcoming in nature making the transition from India easier than expected.

Berkeley Haas is founded on four Defining Leadership Principles: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. Which pillar resonates most with you and why? Question the Status Quo. The last three years at the Internet Saathi Initiative have made me a firm believer of this principle. By providing rural women in India with technology, we have seen amazing results as women have been empowered to leave abusive relationships, stop the barbaric practice of child brides, escape poverty, and even launch businesses to achieve financial independence. Throughout the program, I have tackled numerous stumbling blocks ranging from patriarchal notions to ethnic biases to deep-rooted taboos, but the results have been deeply satisfying. Spearheading this lasting and widespread change has only fueled my passion and I aim to continue my journey at Berkeley Haas.

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? The inclusive culture at Berkeley that shows through in every proud alumnus, student ambassador, and faculty member was the most important factor for me in choosing Haas. Coming to the U.S. for the first time and committing myself for the next two years in a career-changing program, I deeply cherish the supportive community and believe it will help me grow as an empathetic leader.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? The Net Impact Club and to be a part of Haas Socially Responsible Investment Fund

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? What was the motive to transition from investment banking to nonprofit? This question was asked during the in-person interview. The transition was a big leap of faith-driven by personal values and conveying that without sounding superficial was difficult.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After two years in investment banking and three years in the nonprofit space, I believed that the timing was right to amalgamate my passion for finance and impact to pivot towards social impact investing and the MBA provides the perfect opportunity to do this.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to Yale, MIT, and Chicago Booth.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I preferred schools with a strong focus on social impact and a small class size. I researched on the school’s official websites as well as on forums such as the GMAT Club and Quora. I studied the rankings (P&Q, FT, US News) of the schools on various parameters over a five-year period. I also received the help of an admissions consultant who guided me on the nuances of the schools’ culture and focus. After shortlisting schools, I talked to alumni as well as student ambassadors to get the pulse of the school’s culture and evaluated the fit with my aspirations.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Six years ago, during an outing to Save Our Souls Village – an organization that cares for orphaned children – I developed a special connection with Rahul and Shishir, two bright and enthusiastic kids. Over the last five years, I have supported and financed their education, giving them the chance to pursue college and transform their lives. This wonderful experience made me reflect on my privileged life and led me to commit to addressing the many inequalities—500 million people lack secondary education or skills training, 300 million people lack electricity, and 120 million rural households are unbanked—that exist in India today.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I see myself leading an impact investment fund and creating positive sustainable change in my home country.

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