2020 Best & Brightest MBAs: Vasudev Madasu, Penn State (Smeal)

Vasudev Madasu

Penn State University, Smeal College of Business

An engineer and farmer turned business graduate and an avid traveler & adventure sports enthusiast.”

Hometown: Kothapalle, a rural village in Southern India

Fun fact about yourself: In every country I visit, I try to go to the place which is not easily accessible and send a postcard or letter to dear ones saying, “I am here at this remote place and was thinking about you.” I have sent letters from the “World’s highest altitude post office” and a “post office 930 miles away from the mainland.”

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Graduate: Masters in Supply Chain Management, University of Texas at Dallas

Undergraduate: Bachelor of Technology, National Institute of Technology Warangal, India

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

Vizag Steel Plant, India’s leading steel manufacturer

Assistant Manager, Procurement and Strategy

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? TPI Composites, Largest U.S based wind blade manufacturer

Where will you be working after graduation? TPI Composites, Global Supply Chain Manager

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President of Supply Chain Management Association, largest academic association here.
  • Honorary Member of Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society
  • MBA Fellow Award, funding two-year tuition along with graduate stipend
  • Finalist of Michael Ryan Phillips Scholarship, nominated through peer nominations
  • Second-place Winner, Deloitte University level supply chain case competition
  • Third place Winner, Chevron university level supply chain case competition
  • Active Member of Net Impact and Consulting associations

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of being elected by my peers as the president of the Supply Chain Management Association at one of the top supply chain programs in the country. I achieved my vision of promoting experiential learning by introducing creative game-based learning platforms and doubling the number of events year-on-year. This helped me extend our services to other specialized masters programs, which in turn increased memberships by 40% and made us more financially stable to introduce more creative events. With all other networking events and analytics workshops, I could directly impact the careers of members and help them further their supply chain learning at school. The ability to give back to the Smeal community in this way was fulfilling both personally and professionally.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I helped my previous company navigate through challenges including a Category 4 hurricane. We lost all production, contract manpower, and material the hurricane, “HUD-HUD” in 2014. In the process to revamp production and regain market share, I made use of advanced data analytics, a technique very new to the industry at that point, to procure the right products from the right sources at best prices and identify new customers. I was also instrumental in the emergency deputy role via executing the re-erection of 120-meter high production buildings. I am proud to say my team successfully completed construction with no reportable safety incident in “380,000” man-hours spent during critical and demanding times.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Anh Le, who teaches Fundamentals of Financial Markets. I admire him for his passion in financial markets and his energy in the class. He has a unique skill of unpacking the complicated financial concepts through real-life examples, which even a finance novice can easily understand. I love his notes, which are like bedtime stories but are powerful enough to help you generate amazing intuitions in finance. In short, if I decide to be in academia (which I did consider after being admitted as a PhD candidate from Ivy League schools at one point), I want to be just like him.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The Smeal Values Board. It is a year-long tradition where students write a short appreciation note to recognize those, within the MBA community, who have demonstrated any of our core values. The board depicts how integral are the core values in our MBA community. I also like our weekly social event where the MBA community meets in a casual setting after the long week of classes and assignments. This reflects how close-knit our MBA community both inside and outside of the Business Building.

Why did you choose this business school? I am a strong believer in living life in the royal middle path (i.e. living without a drive for money, power or fame in a materialistic world). In addition to the brand, faculty, and curriculum, I wanted a support system of people that respect my views and encourage me to maintain the lifestyle I value. I found that at Penn State. Moreover, the ROI, strong alumni network, and small cohort class setup further influenced my decision. With the perfect balance in all aspects, Smeal was an easy choice.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be yourself. Do not worry if your application has no amazing achievements or polished English. At Smeal, everything starts with values, and integrity is a very huge aspect of that. They are looking at your potential and your character as much as they’re looking at your past experience. So, just be you.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Penn State has a well-deserved reputation for Supply Chain management. Despite what one would have mostly heard, there are many concentrations worthy of similar praise. I personally took concentrations in Finance and Analytics and the faculty and coursework are as good as any Supply Chain class. I feel Finance and Analytics are very underrated at Smeal and you will hear the same story about Marketing and Consulting if you ask my other classmates. Also, we enjoy basketball and other sports as much as we enjoy football.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Attending social events with my classmates. For one semester, I never went out for any social events such as football tailgates, gaming nights, salsa nights, etc. I believed those would cut into my job search and MBA learning. Soon, I realized they help a lot in building relationships, developing people skills, and networking skills. For me, they helped improve my English and communication which further enhanced my job prospects. Given a chance, I will not miss any social event as those are the best learning cycles.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Choosing one is very tough for anyone in the Smeal MBA Class 2020. I must name four: Lauren, JT Fairley, Adriana & Orlando, and will talk about one.

I adore Lauren Zimmerman for all the love and help she extends to classmates in every situation. In my case, I admire her for sitting next to me in every class and helping me with all the social cues. She provided me with psychological safety to talk and ask about anything, for making me better at communicating in a business setting. I admire her more for doing all this in midst of rigorous course load and a ton of additional responsibilities in student organizations – all while balancing her family life. If it weren’t for her, I would have never seen the better side of business education.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? While the thought of business education was sparked by looking at my father’s struggles in his construction business, it was Adithya Sripada, a successful businessman turned Buddhist monk, who inspired me to pursue MBA. I met Adithya as part of my Himalayan travels to know my inner self. He banished my insecurities by first convincing me that I’d be a great fit for any MBA program. He made an analogy of my rescue diving, paragliding, and skydiving skills to efforts and calculated risks I can take in business. He also made me realize the impact I could have on any business given my drive to give back to society as shown through my volunteering activities with disaster management teams and being a member of the reserve army. Later he convinced me of how a selfless person with goals, such as mine to increase the quality of life in rural villages, can create wonders if one has business insights and people skills.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Start a company that builds green and self-sustainable homes, from organic food to power generation. Thus, reducing dependencies for basic needs.
  • Through the first one, create more employment in rural areas and de-centralize growth from metros.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A reliable and talented individual with strong values, who checks on you for unhealthy habits and who is down for any extreme adventure one can imagine.

Hobbies? Scuba diving (Rescue diver), Skydiving (Level C diver), Paragliding (Club pilot), Travelling (42 countries), Motorcycling (90,000 miles apart from work), Horse riding, martial arts, and building prototypes of self-sustainable homes.

What made Vasudev such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2020?

“It was obvious from day one that Vasu was blessed with a considerable intellect. He already possessed two technical degrees prior to entering our MBA program and had been a straight-A student at his previous academic institutions. The pleasant surprise came in how his leadership persona and soft skills blossomed, and how he invested those formidable skills in support of his classmates.

Most notably, Vasu ran for the president position of the Supply Chain Management Association (SCMA) and was elected to the role by his peers. As Gartner’s top-rated graduate program in Supply Chain, there are always many students pursuing the SCM concentration and the SCMA is always one of our largest student clubs. It takes considerable time and effort to keep the membership of the SCMA involved and engaged, and thankfully Vasu was fully up to the task. A highlight of his tenure as SCMA president was teaming up with faculty to deliver a first-ever simulation exercise, something that introduced new concepts and further extended the learning beyond the classroom.

Reflecting on his time as SCMA president, his classmates describe Vasu using terms such as: “hardworking and sincere”, “generous, caring, and friendly”, and “embodies community like no other”. Many in the SCMA credit Vasu for helping them comprehend the more difficult concepts being taught in Supply Chain courses through his tutoring and give him credit for improving their job search success.

Finally, Vasu stood out for his thirst for learning, as well as his passion for the community.  He earned a reputation with both professors and classmates as a deep contributor to class discussions and team projects.  Best of all, there is universal praise for his constant optimism and kindness. In the words of one fellow student, “he’s smart, talented, and humble – the most energetic person I have met!”

We all look forward to seeing where Vasu’s life and career take him from here. There is zero doubt that he will achieve much success, and also that he’ll continue to support his classmates and our program out into the future!”

Paul Poissant
Director, Employer Relations
Smeal Professional Graduate Programs


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