Nitish Kumar Yadav
Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Navy kid, accidental engineer, at B-school by choice. Thoughtful leader who is passionate about creating a legacy.
Hometown: Goa, India
Fun Fact About Yourself: As a Navy kid and later as an engineer, I have lived, studied, and worked in seven Indian states and speak five languages. At home in the ocean, I am a deep-sea diver and a surf boarder who finds the greatest meaning to life in water.
Undergraduate School and Major: Motilal Nehru National Institute of Technology Allahabad, India
Major: Bachelor of Technology in Electrical Engineering
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: NTPC Limited, Deputy Manager (Operations & Maintenance)
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’m most proud of the commissioning exercise that I spearheaded of the desalination plant in Chennai, South India. I was barely six months into the job, just out of engineering school, and I was tasked with leading a multi-billion-dollar project. The project had been facing inordinate delays because of opposition from the local population misled by a hostile political agenda. This project gave me much to learn about business, leadership, teamwork, negotiations, and interpersonal communication skills. I had to overcome local resistance and learn a completely new language to be an effective leader and also liaise effectively with the villagers. I built trust in the villagers and took them into confidence to explain to them how the project would benefit them and improve their lives. The villagers ultimately became the biggest advocates of the project. I worked with the contractor to expedite the project execution and that in turn enabled the commercialization of the project. The kind of effort involved and the learning this assignment produced has shaped me as a leader and a business professional. I got this project at the very beginning of my career and this fast-tracked my professional growth and that is why I consider it as my biggest professional accomplishment.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? The sheer talent and diversity of professional achievement in the program are absolutely mind-blowing. The admission committee did a fantastic job of putting this cohort together. I have teachers, theatre actors, army veterans, a professional rugby player, financial wizards, social workers, and of course the engineers! At Olin, we pride ourselves on knowing each other by name and story. I have spent every single day of B-school learning as much from my peers as much as from the Olin faculty. I have understood what living in Spain looks like to how GE aviation is trying to get back its glory. All this has come from my classmates. A lot of B-school is about peer learning and I have seen this play out in reality in the first month of the program. As I have traveled across continents on Olin’s Global Immersion, I have learned even more from my classmates than I would have expected to. The learning and amazement never stop.
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 global nature of the program made it a natural fit for what I was looking for out of my B-school experience. After almost eight years of professional experience, choosing to pursue an MBA was borne out of the desire to push myself out of my comfort zone and discover new skills and talents and have experiences that I normally would not get.
Choosing an MBA program in the United States was the first step towards pushing the boundaries and giving myself the experience that I so desired from a B-school perspective. The opportunity to live, learn and engage in conversations with a cohort composed of different nationalities and backgrounds was something that was absolutely vital to me. The newly launched Global Immersion program at Olin for the Class of 2021 appealed to me because of its emphasis on learning by doing not just in the class or the local community, but taking the learning process across continents and cultures. The opportunity to undertake consulting projects for a local winery in Barcelona or preparing the go-to-market strategy for launching donuts in China was not something that other programs could provide. The values-based, data-driven global thought process being developed in the MBA program was ultimately exactly what I needed from my MBA program.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Center for Experiential Learning and Olin Strategy & Consulting Association
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? If I got an admit from all the schools I had applied to, which school would I choose and why?
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I worked for seven-plus years in the energy/power and utility sector and had the opportunity to manage multi-billion-dollar projects and was involved in the end-to-end engineering and execution of these projects. I worked in four states and across roles and functions. I had developed a strong engineering skillset. To more meaningfully impact businesses, I needed a grounding in core business skills through a management program. I did not want to confine myself to an engineering role as I yearned to drive business growth and strategy. At the same time, I needed to develop a global mindset in dealing with business challenges across geographies. Leveraging the combination of business and engineering would help me devise sustainable growth strategies, which are vital in today’s extremely dynamic business environment. All these considerations combined compelled me to take a career break to join Olin to propel me to the next stage in my career.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, Duke Fuqua School of Business, Rice Houston, University of Rochester Simon Business School, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
How did you determine your fit at various schools? The top two things that I needed from my MBA program were collaborative culture and global exposure. When applying to B-schools, I spoke to tons of people at each of the schools I applied to so I could learn more about the culture and community at these schools and the opportunities the school provided for global exposure in terms of doing project work or a semester abroad. I would read a lot about these schools on the internet and use all the available resources to determine the right fit for my aspirations.
I also used events like the MBA World Tour as the perfect opportunity to meet with the admission committee in person and explain my background and aspirations and ascertain how the school would help me achieve my career goals and whether it would provide me the community I needed to thrive. I would follow-up with the school representative and ask as many questions as possible. I would frequently look up career statistics on the school’s website and determine the school’s reputation in the role or function I was aspiring to get into. LinkedIn was a very helpful tool that I leveraged to speak to alums so I could learn their perspective on how the school helped them achieve their career goals and how it contributed to their MBA experience. The endless hours of phone conversations with students, alums, and staff at the schools helped me get clarity on the right fit for me and how the school would help me get the most out of my B-school experience.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? Growing up in India, I was a budding footballer who always wanted to be a professional soccer player. I was making waves in the football circles back home in age-group teams and was destined to live my dream. I had the life that I wanted until a nasty injury put out the flames on that dream. Even after multiple surgeries, I was never the same again. It was at this lowest point in my life. As I watched my dream being snuffed out, I decided to never let adversity beat me. This incident has always given me the strength to overcome adversity and always look for the bright spot amidst all the gloom and doom. Ever since, I’ve always believed that life gives you options and it’s up to you to make the most of it. In the face of insurmountable odds, I have always maintained a positive outlook and a can-do spirit. This has shaped my attitude towards life and challenges and I always steel myself to face and overcome any obstacle that may arise. This has become my life mantra.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? For my post-MBA career, I’m looking for a management consulting position—and this is the function that I want to drive my career going forward. Ten years from now, after developing extensive experience in consulting across domains, industries, and practices, I intend to launch my own consulting firm focusing on operations and implementation practice in the energy and utility sector. I will bring my deep subject-matter expertise and extensive knowledge from the consulting realm to bear when solving my client’s business challenges and help develop a sustainable growth strategy, alternate revenue models, and diversified delivery channels that are focused on the long-term profitability.