2020 MBAs To Watch: Nishant Motwani, North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)

Nishant Motwani

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Consumer electronics enthusiast, soccer player, coffee snob, distance runner, average singer, and a self-starter.”

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Fun fact about yourself: There are five things that I absolutely cannot live without:  weekend soccer, my music library, avocados, good coffee, and video conferencing with my beagle back home.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies – University of Delhi University; Bachelor of Business Studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Fuel Tech Inc. – Founder, CEO

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Google LLC – Mountain View, California

Where will you be working after graduation? Google LLC – Mountain View, California

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Business Technology Club – President (2019-20)
  • Kenan Institute – NC Growth and SmartUp Analyst
  • Career Mentor to Class of 2021 (2019-20)
  • Business Technology Club – Liaison to VP of Corporate Relations (2018-19)
  • MBA Student Administration – Liaison to VP of Finance (2018-19)
  • Alliance of Minority Business Students – Liaison to VP of International Relations (2018-19)
  • Around The World – Event Planner (Marketing) (2018)
  • Eno River Project (Community Service) – Project Leader (2018)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Serving as the president of the Business Technology Club would be my proudest accomplishment at UNC Kenan-Flagler. In my first year of business school, I spent a substantial amount of time building a career in the technology industry. I realized that some of the best practices I discovered and incorporated in my career search (especially around effective communication, networking strategy, and knowledge building) were a mere outcome of gradual exposure to unchartered territories. I knew that the incoming class could really benefit from these strategies, instead of reinventing the wheel. While our club leadership planned multiple events and activities for students throughout the year (including treks, mentoring programs, local company visits, and skill-building workshops), I most enjoyed the weekly career sessions that we held with the students. That was the reason why I also became a dedicated career mentor for four students. There is absolutely no better feeling than when somebody gets a job offer and lets you know that you played a teeny-tiny part in their success!

I guess it all comes back to UNC Kenan-Flagler’s culture of giving back to the community!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? That would be super simple: developing a global go-to-market strategy for a new enterprise channel for a certain hardware offering from Google, all within 12 weeks. My internship could be summarized as working through ambiguity while keeping a solid self-started attitude through the project. Also, a huge shout out to my entire team – they were the most supportive and encouraging group that I have ever worked with!

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This would be the toughest question for me because my favorite professor has changed literally every quarter at UNC Kenan-Flagler, including this one. While I have really enjoyed subjects such as Entrepreneurship, Business Plan Analysis, Pricing and Applied Corporate Finance, I would say that Marketing Analytics would take the gold for me – all credits to Professor Pranav Jindal. He does the most wonderful job of explaining fundamentals, acquainting concepts through study materials, discussing required tools, and applying concepts through some of the most interesting homework assignments I have worked on.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Karaoke Night has been my favorite tradition at UNC Kenan-Flagler. We have a Legacy Cup, where different student sections (what we call “legacies”) within the MBA program compete across a bunch of events throughout the year – Karaoke Night is one of them. Both years, I was one of the singers during the competition and can certainly say that these would be amongst my most memorable nights at UNC Kenan-Flagler. From practicing multiple times a week until celebrating the final performance, we formed this really special bond with each other that words would not do complete justice to. Never in my many years of school and college singing could a group of people make me rap, except for this time around!

Why did you choose this business school? I always wanted to attend a business school with a smaller class size and preferred a location where I could maximize my overall learning experience. Chapel Hill provides that unmatched university town experience with easy access to dynamic business hubs within the Triangle area, especially for students interested in technology, entrepreneurship, and healthcare. Moreover, UNC Kenan-Flagler provides immense opportunities for career advancement within the industries that I was interested in at the time (technology and consulting). These factors definitely made my decision much easier!

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? To the best of my knowledge, no students and alumni from UNC Kenan-Flagler have denied my request for a conversation regardless of the means. I strongly advise applicants to speak with our community and learn more about the resources and opportunities that UNC Kenan-Flagler presents – everyone will be super welcoming. After building a substantial understanding of the resources available, applicants should make sure to communicate with the admissions team how they would strategically leverage these resources to achieve their professional goals. Once the applicants can convince the school about their employability and cultural fit with the school, I think they would have already communicated how their collaborative nature and self-starter attitude would take them a long way once they start school, making the admission team’s decision much easier. That would be just my personal opinion though!

What is the biggest myth about your school? If you speak with any students, MBA program team, alumni, and companies that come on campus – even if you read student reviews on about the business school across the internet for that matter – you would notice how almost everyone speaks about how collaborative the community at UNC Kenan-Flagler is. I never believed this “too-good-to-be-true” myth until the day I actually set foot on campus and started experiencing it myself. To give you an example, during my first year, I received unmatched support from the faculty, program administration, career coaches, second-year students, assigned career mentors, and my classmates. Naturally, you feel so very overwhelmed that you cannot stop yourself from becoming that exact support system for the next class of students and your immediate peers.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? If I could go back in time, I would start trusting myself and believing in my ability to make it to unchartered territories much sooner. It took me almost one semester to understand that effective time management and a self-starter outlook are the most important qualities to succeed across the board, both during and after school. Since I realize that probably this might be the last time that I will be in school full-time, I would have loved to spend even more time engaging with and learning about even more activities, people, and geographies.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This has to be my best friend who lives right next door – we have spent the toughest and most enjoyable times of our MBA together, from recruiting and biweekly grocery shopping trips to hearing about our full-time offers on the very same day. Ambhuj Sharma has been an epitome of hard work who has constantly inspired me to outperform myself in multiple ways and make the best of my time at UNC Kenan-Flagler. But I most admire him for overcoming huge obstacles during his journey and his contributions to our student community. Guess I can say that’s exactly what we call the “Carolina Way”!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I always wanted to fulfill my lifelong dream of traveling the world and I couldn’t make that a reality unless I could somehow align my professional goals with my life goals. Since I was a business undergraduate, an MBA made near perfect sense for me to realize this goal. However, I could not have taken the drastic step of changing countries without constant encouragement from my parents. They have been there with me throughout my entire journey, from studying for my GMAT to pursuing my MBA in an entirely different part of the world and securing a full-time offer at Google! I can very proudly say that I super big on family and it would always remain one of my top priorities.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? There are two things that excite me the most professionally: consumer electronics and people. Having grown up as a hardcore Android fan boy (you have no idea), the first item on my bucket list would be to take Google’s Hardware division, where I will be working after graduation, to extraordinary heights. My second bucket list goal (a rather far-fetched ambition) would be to leverage my education for positive change in society and create employment for underprivileged and minority communities in India through a coffee chain.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? Over the course of my education, I consistently stepped outside my comfort zone to take multiple leadership roles, stayed engaged with my community, attended extra classes almost every module, and still made enough time for activities that I am interested in. I would really love for my peers to remember me as someone who never shies away from a challenge!

Hobbies? I really enjoy playing soccer, singing and exploring coffee shops over the weekend. Though I haven’t spent enough running during my first year of school (it gets super busy), I have recently started running few times a week again and signed for a 10-miler, too.

What made Nishant such n invaluable member of the Class of 2020?

“Nishant Motwani was a student in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class. Given Nishant’s background in India, I was surprised that he took my class. Nishant had successfully started a couple of businesses in India and a class in entrepreneurship would have been redundant for him. I tried to talk him out of it, but he convinced me that he was here to learn not just by exploring new ideas but revisiting old experiences. Nishant exemplifies what I call the “smart arrogant” UNC graduate. He is arrogant enough to challenge status quo and call things out but has the empathy to know when he is wrong and accept feedback. A great example of this is the single-minded focus that he had when he was looking for an internship. He knew what he wanted and worked towards it: an internship and job at Google. Indeed, I can’t think of a better example of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s core values – excellence, leadership, integrity, collaboration, and transparency.”

Atul Nerkar
Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship


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