2020 MBAs To Watch: Siva Kandasamy, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Sivasankar (Siva) Kandasamy

W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University

Collaborative life-learner with an analytical decision-making mindset, striving to improve lives through authentic leadership & technology.” 

Hometown: Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India

Fun fact about yourself: I learned two new languages and lived in over 10 cities across five states during four years of my professional career before pursuing my MBA.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Madras Institute of Technology, Automotive Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Daimler India as a Business Manager – Product Management & Marketing. Daimler AG is the parent company of Mercedes-Benz.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Zillow Group Inc, Seattle, WA as a Product Marketing Manager intern

Where will you be working after graduation? I am currently exploring my options that better fit my interests in product management given its entrepreneurial and agile nature involving technology, consumer psychology, and business strategy.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Co-founder and Co-President of the Product Management Club at Arizona State University: Our mission at the club is to democratize product management across the university and develop a platform that provides the best resources for our students to realize their product management career aspirations.

General Manager, Program Management for Carey Collaboration, W. P. Carey School of Business: Carey Collaboration functions to provide a supportive environment, informational resources, career guidance, and a sense of community to the 3000+ freshmen across our B-School throughout their first year.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Getting recognized as a ​Net Investor​ by my school for my contribution to the development of the MBA program will always be my proudest accomplishment during my MBA. I have been specifically recognized for my work within the Product Management Club and the STEM proposal. Every MBA student at ASU is vested in the success of everyone and constantly strives to be a value-add to the community. Getting recognized in this collaborative environment makes it even more rewarding for me.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Helping my channel partner turn around a business that was in the red for three straight years stands as a proud moment in my career. Employee morale at the partner’s company was low because they were quite worried about the future of the business. The business had a lot of inefficiencies in areas such as customer retention and demand (particularly supply forecasts leading to higher overheads). I was able to influence the leadership team to adopt data-driven decision-making, and implemented strategic revenue maximization and cost-cutting measures, leading to positive cash flows and market share improvements across all portfolios.

More than turning around the business, I’m most proud of the fact that my work helped over 300 people keep their jobs.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Choosing one favorite professor is a difficult choice to make. Classes at W. P. Carey are absolutely fantastic and I appreciate that all of our professors have their unique teaching styles and methods. If forced to choose a favorite, I would pick​ Dr. Andrea Morales​ , our professor for Marketing Management. She keeps her classes deeply engaging, makes them interesting through her infectious charm and explosive energy, challenges the class to think beyond the obvious, and brings numerous references from her extensive research on consumer behavior. The class also includes a course long simulation to boost our experiential learning. Fun fact, she was awarded Poets & Quants’ 40 under 40 Most Outstanding MBA Professors​ in 2016.

Dr. Mark Seasholes, Professor – Managerial Finance, and Dr. Reynold Byers, Professor – Statistics for Managers are my other favorites that I would like to give a special mention.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The quarterly roundtable with our executive mentors, through our Executive Connections program, is my favorite event at my B-school. These roundtables are centered around developing skills such as critical leadership, interpersonal intelligence, and other business skills needed for MBAs to succeed.

For background, every MBA student at ASU gets paired with an executive mentor who coaches and mentors us throughout our program and beyond. These mentors are highly accomplished senior executives from diverse backgrounds and bring in a plethora of experience and expertise to the ASU student community. We have unparalleled access to this volunteer group of elite professionals who are always willing to go above and beyond to help us achieve our goals.

This is a clear reflection of ASU’s relentless focus on equipping its students to be successful in their careers and life. The sense of social commitment displayed from these 50+ executives is a great learning point for every one of us in the MBA program.  

Why did you choose this business school? W. P. Carey MBA strongly believes that ​‘Business is Personal’. ​This was visible in the​ ​collaborative nature among the students and the Forward Focus curriculum, making it easy for me to choose W. P. Carey for my MBA. ASU consistently ranks No.1 in innovation and prepares its students to take on the increasingly volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. ROI and the close proximity to the West Coast are some of the other factors that influenced my decision to attend W. P. Carey School of Business.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? Be your authentic self. Connect with alumni and current students to understand your mutual fit in the program. Be aware that W. P. Carey really values individualism while helping you to recognize your purpose and mission both to self and to the community.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Everyone thinks that W. P. Carey is a supply chain school. And, yes, while being a top-ranked supply chain program is one of our strengths, we have a well-rounded MBA program with other strong concentrations. For instance, in 2019, an equal proportion of MBA students landed in marketing roles after their graduation. We have cutting edge research facilities and top-ranked professors in Marketing, Finance, and Business Analytics here at ASU. In fact, our Center for Services Leadership at ASU is one of the leading organizations conducting groundbreaking research on services marketing and boasts top companies around the world as its members.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would have balanced my academic and social life better in order to truly get the most out of my MBA experience. Coming from a cultural background where gaining technical and functional expertise is more heavily emphasized, I realized it is also very important to balance building relationships. I had to make adjustments to learn and realize the role networking plays in building symbiotic long-term business relationships.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I’m extremely lucky to be in a class full of super-talented, uber-focused students bringing in diverse perspectives. Everyone in the class has inspired me and it’s a difficult choice to pick just one that I admire the most.

In particular, I would pick ​Dave Lovecchio​ for his constant outlook towards leaving the MBA and ASU community at a better place than he found it. He is another co-founder of our PM Club, Co-Director of MBA Student Ambassador Program, and is the head coach of the ASU Club Baseball team consisting of undergrad students. Another special mention is​ Sabina Ospanova​ for her grit and determination to excel in the classes and realize her career aspirations all while she was taking care of her​ infant.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The former CEO of Daimler Trucks Asia, ​Mr. Marc Llistosella​, indirectly influenced me to pursue an MBA. His strong leadership style, excellent people skills, deep technical product acumen, and inherent ability to motivate the entire company (with more than 15,000 people) align with a common goal inspired me and kindled my desire to be an agent of positive change.

In addition to that, my parents have been a great source of inspiration to participate in a global program. Being the first graduate from my family, my parents always wanted me to follow my passions and have always been a constant source of motivation to pursue my goals and dreams.

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

  1. As an alumnus, support W. P. Carey school to grow into a top incubation center for product management talent
  2. Be an agent of change by building and delivering products that create immense value for people around the world

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? At the end of the day, I would like my peers to remember me as a supportive friend from their MBA community who is always there as a life-line no matter what happens.

Hobbies? Badminton, political & economic analysis and debates, providing advice on investment strategies to friends and family, photography

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

“Sivasankar arrived at W. P. Carey with a desire to work in product management in the future and a passion for expanding awareness of this growing field. He, along with a classmate, founded the highly collaborative Product Management Club. The response thus far from students and industry partners has been extremely positive, with approximately 20% of the full-time MBA class participating in club activities. Partnerships with the colleges of design and engineering are in the works, and at least one company has indicated an interest in building a pipeline of product managers at W. P. Carey. Sivasankar’s work in raising awareness of this field is paying off, as more than half a dozen students have already accepted positions in product management post-graduation.”

Erica Day
Assistant Director of Academic Services

“Sivasankar is a true self-starter with a can-do attitude. His contributions to the Graduate Assistantship program have been invaluable. Over the Fall 2019 semester, Siva engineered a new and improved time reporting process for all graduate students in the Full-time MBA. Siva is also the embodiment of student engagement. From regularly attending student engagement events to co-founding his own student organization, Siva is fully embedded in the student experience.”

Victoria Ammons
Full-time MBA Program Manager


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