Meet Chicago Booth’s MBA Class Of 2021

Swati Agrawal

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“A passionate healthcare professional who likes to experiment.”

Hometown: Sikar (a town near Jaipur) in Western India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am a sports enthusiast. I recently started following an e-sport named DOTA 2.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelors and Masters in Aerospace Engineering from IIT Bombay (I do know rocket science)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Aarti industries (Chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturer)
Job title: Senior Manager, Corporate Planning, CEO’s office

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I worked at a healthcare start-up, Saral Designs, where I led the product development and operations to manufacture affordable quality sanitary pads to solve the problem of menstrual hygiene in India. I was surprised to see the low level of product knowledge available in the market. Through thousands of experiments, hundreds of feedback sessions, discussions with industry experts, and low-cost testing methods, we developed the right quality product from roughly 200 prototypes that we built over time. Despite a failed product launch and recall, we did not stop innovating. The product has already been used by more than 200K consumers. One of the innovative features introduced in the product was later replicated in a key product of a leading multi-national FMCG.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I feel that the quality that best describes my MBA classmates is the analytical mindset. I first noticed this when I was researching for my B School applications. Booth was the only school that gave the employment and other statistics in excel rather than in PDF, allowing further analysis of the data. My MBA classmates also seem to have an analytical approach – whether it is an evaluation of healthcare plans or education loans or banking services.

What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA degree? Being one of the largest cities in USA, Chicago offers a vibrant cosmopolitan environment, amazing food places for foodies, and the opportunity to create a strong network. Moreover, it is a hub for healthcare with the headquarters of multiple healthcare firms.

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? Culture fit was the key factor for me. I have worked three completely different cultures: an MNC, a start-up and a family-run public-listed Indian company. These experiences taught me the value of cultural fit. It is extremely important that one feels an integral part of the institution as it enables one to make the most of the opportunities available.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am really looking forward to meeting energetic entrepreneurs and explore different ideas at Polsky Centre For Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Being a basketball player, I am extremely excited about joining the basketball club as well.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The question that intrigued me the most was “How will you give feedback to someone who you do not like to work with?” It forced me to go back to the deeper level of my experiences and identify how do I respond in such a situation.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? It was an increased understanding of the innovating space of healthcare after spending 4 years in the field. It made me realize that to bring an impactful innovation I should create a holistic understanding of the healthcare and business ecosystem and build a great network of professionals who are driven to make a difference.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS, Wharton, Kellogg (Admitted), Sloan (Admitted)

How did you determine your fit at various schools? For me, the ambassadors of the school were the Booth students and alumni with whom I came in touch with during the application process. The support and guidance that I got from the Booth community were unparalleled – it was a true glimpse of the collaborative environment fostered at Booth. Given my own engineering and consulting background, I could strongly connect with the analytical and academic-oriented culture of Booth.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are?
I grew up in a rural part of India in a lower-middle-class family, where common people barely thought of preparing for one of the toughest entrance examinations for Engineering. It took a lot of courage for me and my family to think of a larger-than-our-lives dream, which was deemed as impossible to achieve. I cycled more than 10 miles every day to complete my high school education and learned scientific concepts in Hindi. At night though, under the optimism of nightlights, I would translate my learnings to English to prepare, with bleak hope, for the IIT examinations.

This experience not only put me on the world map but also gave me hope that everything is possible to achieve and strengthened my determination to define my life in my way rather than by my peers. Even until today, whenever, I have to make some tough decisions, this experience becomes instrumental.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I would like to build a world-class healthcare company that incubates innovation across a wide range of healthcare products – from prosthetic limbs to low-cost chronic care drugs, bringing affordable, quality healthcare to the masses.

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