Meet Emory Goizueta’s MBA Class Of 2021

Anupama Tadanki

Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

Flower-arranging, vegetarian-cooking, and music-loving student of life.

Hometown: Irvine, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself: I used to beatbox for an a cappella group!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Southern California, B.S. in Global Health

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Program Associate, Global Development and Population

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  As staff members of a US-based philanthropic organization funding global social impact projects, it became clear to my colleagues and I that we needed a context-flexible diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) grantmaking strategy. My team, which provided around $100 million annually to organizations around the world, entrusted me with the responsibility of leading a learning agenda development process for diversity and equity issues in international grantmaking.

In all honesty, at the start of the project, I had no idea what an “agenda” entailed. A detailed project plan for training? A system for collecting feedback from grantees? Right away, this experience taught me to embrace ambiguity at the beginning of a project. Though I myself was not an expert on the topic, through leading design thinking brainstorming sessions and collecting feedback from colleagues, the learning agenda was developed over a few months. The final product consisted of four questions and a schedule for reflection points in the upcoming year, positioning our organization as a thought leader among peer funders for inclusive philanthropic practice.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Authentic and generous collaboration best describes the learning environment that has been created by my classmates at Goizueta Business School (GBS). There is a true appreciation for the diverse perspectives each student brings; it is clear that we collectively want each other to be successful. Even GBS’ grading policy reflects its focus on learning and competition. Students do not receive a numeric or letter grade, grade point average, or class ranking! We really are all here to become better leaders and build stronger businesses.

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 applied to business school with aspirations to build a future career focused on social impact. In particular, I expressed my interest in increasing access to economic opportunity for people across the world. Social Enterprise @ Goizueta, a research institution within GBS focused on improving communities through business, provided just the kind of environment I was looking for. Along with my regular admission application, I was also able to submit a supplemental document to be considered for a Social Enterprise Fellowship through the center, giving me access to mentors and opportunities to further explore how the lessons I would be learning in class applied to real-world challenges. Being accepted to this unique program gave me the confidence that GBS was willing to invest in its students pursuing social impact career pathways.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am excited to be an elected representative of GBS within Emory University’s Graduate Student Government Association. I’m eager to find opportunities for students across the university’s many excellent graduate programs to connect, collaborate, and co-create. As they say, diversity makes for stronger teams. The world’s biggest problems will almost always need to be solved using an interdisciplinary approach, and what better way to do that than to leverage the amazing student body at Emory!

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? My response to the question “How do you define success?” will forever be evolving. I posed the question to many of my colleagues, family members, and friends and really enjoyed the variety I heard in their responses and priorities. They inspired me to keep expanding upon my interpretation of the question. Although balancing business school applications and a full-time job was tricky at times, I truly loved the opportunity it gave me to reflect upon my past and ideate for the future. It’s not often that one gets to be so structured and focused on professional self-reflection.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After spending five years working in philanthropy, direct service, and private sector organizations, I was eager to ground the learnings from my diverse professional experiences in business principles and practices. I wanted to equip myself with the tools and knowledge to become the best leader I possibly could be for an organization seeking to drive social change. I knew that I needed to be able to both articulate an organization’s vision and also design an efficient and sustainable operation that satisfied the needs of the people it intended to serve. I also wanted to expand my professional network and learn from colleagues working in all different industries, functions, and geographies. An MBA seemed to offer the perfect opportunity for me to meet all of those goals.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Yale, UC Berkeley, and Columbia

How did you determine your fit at various schools?  As a prospective dual MBA/MPH student, it was really important to me to be a part of a school that valued and supported career prospects in both fields equally. In my many conversations with alums of different MBA programs, I made it a point to ask specifically about what types of clubs and opportunities existed for cross-disciplinary students like me. I also asked about how engaged alumni remained with their classmates as well as current students. After all, a graduate degree is a long-term investment!

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My failures have always provided me with my most important growth opportunities. In my 23 years of performing as a classical South Indian musician, I have experienced my fair share of stage mishaps (I can share more details over coffee). There is nothing quite like forgetting lyrics in front of 300 people to teach the importance of preparation, discipline, and self-confidence.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I hope to be actively working on expanding access to economic opportunity for people facing barriers to employment around the world.