2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Anisha Mocherla, Wharton School

Anisha Mocherla

The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania

“I’m an optimistic community-builder who seeks to learn about the world around me.”

Hometown: Pleasanton, CA

Fun fact about yourself: My brother, who was two years old at the time, named me!

Undergraduate School and Degree: UC San Diego, International Studies in Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Lyft, Growth Team

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Walmart E-Commerce, San Francisco

Where will you be working after graduation? TBD, the search continues!

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Storytellers Co-President, Student Life Fellow, Dean Search Committee Student Representative, Communications Fellow

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of my involvement with the Storytellers club on campus. I have the immense privilege of helping my incredible classmates craft and share vulnerable personal stories with the Wharton community. Every two weeks, the Storytellers club hosts a Slam where we feature eight of our classmates on stage to share these stories. I, along with other board members, help these speakers articulate their message for the Slam. I have personally coached over 30 students throughout the two years; every classmate I have coached has left an indelible mark on me. I am in constant awe at the breadth of experiences and accomplishments among my peers. It is an honor to identify and share these stories with the broader community.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I helped launch Lyft in Michigan in 2016. I was given two days notice to pack my bags and head over to Grand Rapids, Michigan. As a Californian native who had never really lived outside the state, I experienced a complete culture shock while creating a new Lyft community in Michigan during the 2016 Presidential election. I was on the ground, mainly by myself, for about 3 weeks to launch operations. I had to identify a pool of drivers and create demand in the community within a month. It required a high degree of vulnerability, courage, and determination. I rolled up my sleeves and immediately got to work. I connected with people I would have never met in California, such as a former factory worker who had to go back to high school to support a family of five after being laid off. We shared little in common when it came to age, race, education, gender, or religion, but we connected deeply on the values of resilience, hope, and the American Dream. He became a pillar strength as I built a strong Lyft community in Michigan. In the end, it was an incredibly successful launch, from both a metrics and an experiential perspective. I left Michigan with a strong sense of optimism, community, and achievement.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I really enjoyed the learning team introduction during preterm or orientation at Wharton. Students are placed in learning teams of 6-7 and find out about their team members through a fun exercise. Then, within hours of meeting your team, you are asked to share vulnerable, personal stories with each other. The supportive and open environment helped me share anecdotes that I have never discussed publicly in the past. I appreciated that Wharton pushed us to move past the small talk early on. It helped my team develop healthy group dynamics from the get-go. It reflects Wharton’s commitment to helping you step outside your comfort zone and take risks in a safe environment. You are pushed to think deeply about your past, your present goals, and your future vision.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Wharton because it scared me. The sheer size of the class, the distance from California, and the breadth opportunities were all outside my comfort zone. I wanted an MBA experience that would push me and I knew I would find it at Wharton. The school embraces a student-driven culture; it does not prescribe you an experience. As a student, you are responsible for creating your own path. I knew it would be one of the most rewarding, but challenging experiences. I could not pass on this opportunity.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Envision your experience and path at Wharton – which opportunities would you participate in? How will you give back to the community? What do you want to leave or take after Wharton? Clearly articulate the Wharton journey that you expect to take. This is a helpful exercise for you to go through as well. It will help you understand what you want out of an MBA program and how Wharton can get you there. The beauty of Wharton is that there is no one right path to reaching your goal.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Before I came to Wharton, I heard that it could be a competitive environment. I have never experienced that at Wharton. My classmates are some of the most collaborative and friendly people I’ve met. We are all driven and invested in each others’ success. Whether it is a friend dropping off food when I was sick or an acquaintance staying up late in the evening to help me understand a course concept, the Wharton family has been there for me through the thick and thin.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have been more patient with myself in the first few months. I was initially frustrated that I did not immediately find my community or hit the ground running. It is only natural to take some time to get adjusted to so many unknowns in a new environment. If I had been more forgiving, I would have enjoyed the first few months of Wharton a lot more!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Bruno Byrro is my Co-President for Storytellers. I am always inspired by his commitment to push himself out of his comfort zone. As an introvert, Bruno challenged himself to explore and express his emotions and vulnerabilities in business school. Not only does he push himself to be more self-aware, but he also encourages his peers to do the same thing. His wisdom and friendship have left an indelible impact on many of his peers. Friends like Bruno make Wharton an unforgettable experience.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My brother always challenged me to dream bigger and shatter any limits I’ve placed on myself. As a woman of color, I internalized and self-imposed many barriers to my goals. It became common for me to say “I am not ___ enough” or “I cannot possibly do ___.” Every time I imposed a limit, my brother questioned my logic and conferred a sense of possibility in me. He kept reminding me that I belong in an institution like Wharton. I am so grateful for his mentorship.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would like to have developed a product or service that helps people reach their full potential. I would also like to have 5 mentees that I have personally helped reach C-suite.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Anisha makes me feel at ease to have deeper conversations I would not otherwise have.

Hobbies? Hosting friends, storytelling, healthy cooking, walking with no agenda in new cities, and reading non-fiction

What made Anisha such an invaluable member of the Class of 2020?

“Anisha serves as the Co-President of the Wharton Storytellers Club, a group that organizes “slams” during which individual students tell stories to an audience of peers. With a common theme for each slam, the set of stories weave a fabric of significant formative experiences which also give the listeners deeper insights into the lives of their classmates. This forum is one of the outlets the students have created to push them “beyond the small talk.” Over the course of the school year, these gatherings help to create an atmosphere among the students which enables them to forge deeper, more authentic connections. Anisha took on this leadership role to contribute to the culture, and as a personal challenge given the difficulty she had breaking into the relatively large MBA community. Anisha has also contributed to the school by serving as a Student Life Fellow, a 2nd-year mentor to help 1st-year MBAs navigate the many decisions to get the most from their Wharton experience. Finally, Anisha was selected by classmates to serve as the sole MBA representative on the search committee for our new dean, which speaks to the respect she has earned in the student community.”

Howie Kaufold
Vice Dean
Wharton MBA Program


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