Meet Pittsburgh Katz’s MBA Class Of 2021

Raunaq Lala 

University of Pittsburgh’s Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business

“Social butterfly, avid foodie, and world traveler with a passion for organizing and team building.”

Hometown: Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am an adventure sports enthusiast. I have participated in various adventure sports such as bungee jumping, sky diving, white river rafting, scuba diving, trekking, hiking, flyboarding, and ziplining. This is funny (and shocking) because, as a kid, I would say ‘I’m a coward’ and ‘I’m a chicken and proud of it’ when told to participate in simple kid activities such as crossing a rope bridge or to come down a hill without any assistance!

Undergraduate School and Major: Visvesvaraya National Institute of Technology, Nagpur, India — Major: Electronics and Communication Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Associate Consultant, Atos

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: During my time as a Team Lead, I was informed that there would be an influx of new members joining the team. I volunteered to mentor most of the new hires because I knew how daunting a new professional set-up feels for new members, especially for those coming just after undergrad.

With my easy and friendly approach, the new members didn’t have too many issues transitioning from the undergrad mentality to the professional mentality. I was able to connect them with team members with similar interests and they were able to progress with ease into the project.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Open and sociable. Generally, when people come into a different environment, they tend to find people from their same locality or country and participate only with such groups. Getting to know everyone in the class becomes a challenge after the initial greetings. People try ways to go back to their group, as they want to be back in their comfort zone. Here, I found my fellow classmates do not just stick to only such groups, but put in the effort to interact and foster a bond with everyone. This helps in faster team bonding and helps the class to grow both professionally and personally. And I believe that for a team to develop faster, having such quality is commendable and makes it easy for everyone in the class.

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? Technology and management have become two sides of the same coin. It is important for one to have both of these skills and knowledge to succeed in today’s business world. I want to move into techno-commercial roles, which required rich experience in the IT field, building my technical expertise, and gaining the basic knowledge of delivery, results, returns, and strategy, Hence, I wanted a technical underflow to my MBA. At Katz, I’m pursuing the dual Full-Time MBA/MS in Management Information Systems degree program, which allows me to develop my management skills and polish my technical knowledge.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? Business Technology Club, Operations Club, and Katz Student Executive Board

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question that I was asked during the admission process was the case study question. The question made me apply my technical experience in a creative and spontaneous manner and give an insight into how I was able to handle such situations.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? After having almost 5.5 years of work experience, I felt that I was mentally prepared to invest in myself, my education, and this experience.

I felt that I was lacking in a few aspects whenever I saw myself moving ahead. For example, I was lacking in cultural diversity as a framework. I did have cultural diversity when I lived in various cities across the globe but never learned its framework in a professional setting.

I had become mentally content in what I was doing and hence stagnated. This MBA is exactly the push I need to grow professionally. I also dabbled with the management aspect of work when I was a Team Lead. This too motivated me to pursue this MBA and enhance that knowledge.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? University of Arizona, University of California – Irvine, Schulich School of Business – Toronto

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I was looking at schools whose course structure would hone my skills and provide the necessary knowledge to succeed in the business world. I also wanted schools that provided courses and electives which would help me in achieving my career goals. I connected with alumni to understand both the program and student cultures to understand if I would be a good fit there. I looked at the various student clubs that were present in the colleges to get a glimpse of extracurricular activities at the schools. I went through the overview of the program of the schools on many sites, such as Poets & Quants, U.S. News, and Forbes, as well as on student forums like GMAT Club. I was looking out for schools that emphasized a practical mode of teaching rather than just giving theoretical knowledge. I also considered the location of the schools for networking purposes.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? While handling the logistics during my sister’s wedding in India, I made it a point to go with each driver for at least one pick up. I conversed and had tea and snacks with them while waiting and  giving them an appropriate amount of personal time. The drivers were happy and would happily accommodate any sudden changes in their travel itinerary without any fuss. I understood that everyone matters in a team; most people just want to be respected and appreciated for their work. When they get that, they are much more productive. This is one thing that I have taken into my professional life as well. I make sure that even the person doing the most minuscule of work in the team was appreciated. In turn, I saw them putting in extra effort when given more work.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years, I see myself making decisions that not only impact one or two products or clients but many businesses and products. I hope to bring disruptive, or at least innovative, solutions to client problems. However, I fully acknowledge that I can only do so in the long term. I envision bringing business knowledge in my day-to-day life, adding on my technical expertise, where I would be responsible for making decisions and figuring solutions and impacting products in the short term – in a more holistic manner – so as to accomplish my vision.

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