“I am a hardworking, career-oriented woman who uses a creative approach to solve problems and believes in giving back to society.”
Hometown: Delhi, India
Fun fact about yourself: I am a passionate fusion cook
Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) from Delhi University, India; Diploma In Investment Management, ICFAI, Tripura, India
Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Before enrolling in Babson, I worked at my start-up venture, Verdure, which dealt in wellness living products. I was the co-founder and we generated revenue of $75,000 in the first quarter in the year 2018.
Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? I interned with two fashion start-ups:
- TEAL Apparel, MA: TEAL Apparel produces a line of affordable, tall and long male offerings that place a premium on fit, function, and form. Based on the founder’s personal experience, TEAL created this brand to serve the apparel needs of tall men.
- Artyfactos, MA: Artyfactos is a sustainable fashion brand that creates unique jewelry made with safe, natural, and recycled materials. Women artisans who are located in Latin America handcraft the beautiful and sustainable pieces.
I learned about fashion sustainability, the life of an entrepreneur, sales forecasting, social media marketing, and the importance of collaboration.
Where will you be working after graduation?
I will continue to work on my startup, UNfabricated, as its Co-Founder/CEO. UNfabricated is an environmentally and socially sustainable start-up that has a dual mission: 1. Empower women in developing countries; and 2. Reduce textile waste.
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:
My community work and leadership roles beyond the Babson classroom have played a major role in shaping my knowledge and confidence to start UNfabricated.
- I received the Olin MBA Scholarship and the Forté Fellowship for two consecutive years.
- I led a team of 40 students as the Co-Chair of the Babson Entrepreneurship Forum (BEF) 2019 to organize an event with over 500 attendees and over 30 speakers.
- I worked as a Graduate Assistant and as the VP of Fashion Entrepreneurial Initiative (FEI), where I assisted in organizing various fireside chats, conducted research on sustainable fashion, hosted student interactions, etc.
- I served as Vice President of Fashion Sustainability of the Babson Sustainability and Energy Conference (BSEC), attended by 150 people, where I brought together a panel from the fashion industry that addressed sustainability and the impact of the industry on the world.
- I am a member of the Student Advisory Forum of the Institute of Family Entrepreneurship (IFE), where I helped establish the structure of the newly launched institute.
- I acted as a mentor and a mentee at the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Mentorship Program from 2018 to 2019, enabling me to learn and to share my experiences with others
- I served as a WINner at Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab, a Babson Venture Accelerator, which has enabled me to further my knowledge, develop a business model for UNfabricated, and interact with advisors and masterminds who could give me insights into the industry trends and guide me throughout the creative process. I was one of the 20 women entrepreneurs selected from a pool of 100 applicants.
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school?
- I received a seed funding of $1200 from the Babson Seed Fund run by the Butler Launch Pad team at Babson College. The team showed confidence in my venture, UNfabricated, and me as an entrepreneur. I was also chosen to showcase UNfabricated at The Venture Café in Boston.
- Co-Chair, Babson Entrepreneurship Forum (Babson’s flagship student entrepreneurship event and the largest student-led forum, chairing a total of 40 MBA students.
- WINner at Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab – I was one of 20 women entrepreneurs from among 100 applicants accepted by this venture accelerator for my start-up, UNfabricated.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Surprisingly, I am proud of failing in my first start-up, Verdure, when I was 24-years-old. This forced me to learn from my mistakes and enroll in a business school, where I could learn and practice entrepreneurship while earning my MBA. I am proud to identify and follow my passion and convert it into a business opportunity. Joining Babson College helped me learn more about global developments and how to apply financial, accounting, and marketing principles to my start-up. I have been able to create a socially and sustainable fashion start-up combining my past experience in the textile industry and the consulting world with my passion to empower women.
Who was your favourite MBA professor? Beth Goldstein, author of Entrepreneurial Marketing: A Blueprint for Customer Engagement. She has been very effective in putting her full trust in my abilities and motivating me to grow as a businesswoman and, more importantly, as a human.
Why did you choose this business school? I chose Babson because of various reasons:
- I wanted to pursue ‘entrepreneurship’ and Babson is the leading business school for the same. With resources such as the Blank Center, the Lewis Institute, the Fashion Entrepreneurial Initiative, and the Institute of Family Entrepreneurship, Babson was the only business school I wanted to be at.
- Babson’s strong Alumni network gave me confidence in the values of the school and the availability of advisors and mentors who graduated from Babson.
- I was able to resonate with Babson’s core values such as integrity, diversity, and collaboration, as well as its history
I am extremely satisfied and glad to have made this choice.
What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program?
- Research on and leverage all possible resources at Babson. All of the faculty and staff at Babson are extremely helpful. They go out of the way to assist you and guide you along the path to build a successful career.
- Have a goal in mind before you apply to any business school. This means pursuing a career in a particular industry, start-up, or even a career change. If you do not have a goal, speak with advisors and professors in your first semester.
- 3. Be sure to participate in various events. Grab every opportunity that comes your way.
- Participate in extracurricular activities. Even though you will learn a lot in class, you will gain life experiences while participating in various clubs and events. This will also enable you to gain global experience and allow you to learn about other cultures.
- Don’t hesitate to ask questions! You can only succeed in your motivation to learn and grow if you ask questions about anything and everything. There is nothing such as a wrong question; therefore, do not hesitate and gather as much knowledge as possible during your MBA.
- You have access to a global network under one roof for two years. Make sure you connect with faculty, staff and alumni at Babson. The support that they extend is unbelievable.
- The location is amazing. Babson is located in Wellesley, on the outskirts of Boston. This gives you an opportunity to interact within the diverse Boston network of universities and companies.
- Take classes for what you do not know. Don’t worry about what you already know.
- Start networking with everyone around you. Take the initiative to learn about others, their cultures, their country and their interests.
- There is a centre or institute at Babson for anything and everything that you want to learn. For fashion, we have Fashion Entrepreneurial Initiative. The same goes for social entrepreneurship (Lewis Institute), family entrepreneurship (Institute of Family Entrepreneurship / IFE), etc. Babson has a collaborative environment that allows you to interact and network within and outside the college.
What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about Babson is that it is #1 for entrepreneurship. I can proudly say that indeed Babson is #1 for entrepreneurship. I say with confidence that the knowledge and exposure concerning entrepreneurship that Babson provides is great, vast, and practical. There are numerous resources at Babson that are focussing on various industries that promote the idea of tomorrow’s world. Babson’s ET&A (Entrepreneurial Thought and Action) methodology has been of great help and motivation for me. Babson provides the support and instills the confidence that forces us to go out in the market and test a product and pivot when needed. It has enabled me to build long-term relationships that I can tap into even after graduation. For example, the Lewis Institute has not only helped me connect with fellow social entrepreneurs but has also helped me overcome various challenges and meet with potential customers.
Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?
- Network sooner than later. I would leverage all possible resources inside and outside of Babson from day one.
- Manage time better and prioritize. I am an avid learner and an inquisitive individual. I pushed myself to attend all possible events and sessions and to apply for multiple opportunities. Unfortunately, this lack of judgment caused me to lose out on the more important ones. I should have prioritized to achieve better results.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Ashley Taylor, Founder of Taylor Custom Rings. Ashley is a working mom of four children who is pursuing her MBA. I admire the work and effort she is putting into her business while managing her family at the same time. I commend her commitment and work ethic and they have motivated me to work harder and organize myself in a better way.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My passion and determination to pursue further education gave me the strength and focus to pursue business in college. I was my top influencer for making this decision to pursue business in college. Of course, this wouldn’t have been possible without the support of my parents. They have always pushed me to become the independent woman I am today and have always been the backbone of my life’s decisions, supporting me throughout to achieve excellence in whatever I do. Being the first woman in my family to travel abroad in order to pursue my career goals, I share the credit of pursuing business in college with my parents. Also, in a world where people often look for job security, my father encouraged me to pursue entrepreneurship. He guided me to have an appetite for risk while bringing on an awareness of a practical approach to life.
What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?
- To empower 100 women in the next 2 years, to make them self-sufficient and independent while providing them with a purpose and motivation in life. This shall truly define my success as an entrepreneur.
- To transition UNfabricated into a B-Corp in the next 3 years that will promote the UN Sustainable Development goals and build a brand that positively impacts not just the world but also the mental model of humans. And to be featured in Forbes 30 under 30 for UNfabricated
In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? I would like my peers to remember me as an ambitious and hardworking woman. I would consider myself to have succeeded if they would remember me as the one who influenced their mindset or their lives even slightly.
- I enjoy playing board games with friends
- Reading books on women empowerment
- Running and Swimming. I even call myself a water baby and I aim to obtain deep-sea diving certification
- I love cooking fusion food and hosting friends and family
What made Prabaarja such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?
“Prabaarja (Aarja) embodies the Babson spirit and has been using her entrepreneurial mind-set not just to start her own business, but also to create new pathways for herself and others. I frequently use Aarja as an example when talking with first-year students about how to navigate the Babson community – and how they can learn to unlock opportunities for themselves while connecting with others.
Aarja came from a family business background and, in true entrepreneurial fashion, saw opportunities in some of the challenges that they were facing, particularly in their waste stream. Looking at their textile business, she realized that the small amounts of by-products could be reclaimed and turned into something both useful and beautiful for society. In addition to diverting waste material from a landfill –which has an obvious impact on the environment and community wellbeing – Aarja realized she was sitting on an opportunity to activate an underutilized workforce of female seamstresses who were unable to work in a large manufacturing facility, but could produce quality clothing and home furnishing goods. With this vision in mind, Aarja began connecting with all corners of the Babson campus to help her take her next steps and use the power of entrepreneurship to create economic and social value simultaneously. Very quickly into her Babson career, UNfabricated was born.
For such a seemingly small school, Babson has countless opportunities for students to advance their learning through events, groups, classes, and both formal and informal programs. We have a multitude of Centers and Institutes, and a robust team of staff and faculty all here to help our students create the impact they’d like to see in the world. Sometimes the sheer volume of opportunities on campus can become overwhelming, and students can struggle to know exactly where they should turn to and when. One of Aarja’s biggest strengths has been navigating the people and relationships on campus, engaging with different stakeholders masterfully to help her drive toward creating impact.
She arrived at Babson passionate about sustainable fashion, and immediately connected herself with the Fashion Entrepreneurial Initiative – a movement inside of Babson that was spearheaded by a faculty member, and was truly an emerging entity when she arrived on campus. Unclear exactly what the FEI would look like and do moving forward, she helped to engaged hundreds of people in the Babson community to connect and learn together, helping to spark a new movement inside of Babson.
As her own business of UNfabricated was starting to flourish beyond an idea, Aarja used her network to connect with advisors beyond the fashion and start-up worlds. Being a female founder, she immediately connected with our Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership, earning a coveted spot in their Women Innovating Now Lab – an accelerator specifically designed to help women move their ideas forward. And because her idea was born out of a family business, she continued to engage with our colleagues at the Institute for Family Entrepreneurship who have helped her work with the different dynamics that a family business presents.
Her venture touches so many different aspects of business and addresses multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals, like Climate Action, Gender Equality, and Decent Work and Economic Growth. When creating a business that addresses so many different issues, you need to engage with many different types of people for advice, connections, and learning. And sometimes, those people can give you conflicting advice.
Aarja first came to me when she received some advice that was given with good intentions but didn’t feel right to her. An advisor suggested that she pick one issue to focus on and stay committed exclusively to her environmental mission. She was told that activating the underutilized workforce was diluting her focus and that she needed to stay in one lane in order to get her entrepreneurial venture off of the ground. Knowing in her heart that this was a core reason for creating her venture in the first place, she came to The Lewis Institute for another opinion. We have seen this before and immediately connected her to another alumna who is very successfully running a business that maintains both an environmental and women economic empowerment focus. Just a handful of connections and relationships was all she needed to take her next big leap, and remember that her company’s mission can address multiple social issues.
Aarja is leaving a lasting impression on the Babson community and has helped countless students chart their own course at Babson. She’s demonstrated that engaging with others and creating impact is not an “either/or,” but rather a “yes/and.” She had been sharing her journey with all of us – both her successes and her challenges – to help even more of our community learn from her and learn with her. She’s the consummate collaborator and laser-focused on the end goal of creating value for the world, and Babson has grown as a community because of her.”
Associate Director of Babson’s Lewis Institute for Social Innovation