2020 MBAs To Watch: Kartik Mukundan, Ohio State (Fisher)

Kartik Mukundan

The Ohio State University, Fisher College of Business

Constantly striving to positively impact society and bring out the best in people.”

Hometown:  Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

Fun fact about yourself: The only time I was overweight was when I was a one-year-old baby. Ever since I’ve been under-weight!

Undergraduate school and degree: Anna University, Chennai, Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Ashok Leyland Ltd, Program Manager – New Product Development

Where did you intern during the summer of 2019? Amazon.com, Pathways Operations Manager Intern in Cincinnati, Ohio

Where will you be working after graduation? Amazon.com, Pathways Operations Manager in Stockton, Calif.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Awarded Best Presenter Under Pressure at Fisher Internal Case Competition
  • VP-Finance at Fisher Consulting and Strategy Club (FCSC)
  • VP-Marketing at Fisher Indian Student Association (FISA)
  • Graduate Analyst at The Risk Institute – Led collection and analysis of data to develop strategies to reduce distracted driving in Ohio
  • I also help current MBA students with case and behavioral interview preparation and conducted 50+ mock interviews this academic year. In addition, I actively volunteer at several college and university events.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I identified a few areas of personal development during my MBA, and public speaking was one of them. I knew that actually speaking on stage is the best way to improve public speaking (how surprising!), so I actively sought speaking roles during group projects and presentations. I was elated when my efforts came to fruition – I was awarded Best Presenter Under Pressure at the Fisher Internal Case Competition.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am proud of being a part of the Pathways Operations Leadership Development Program at Amazon. The goal of my MBA was to join the tech industry while leveraging my past experience in operations, and this role was the perfect fit. During my internship, I spearheaded quality improvement initiatives, designed strategy, and led the implementation of a platform for re-selling certified used products. It was a great feeling to positively impact the sprawling Amazon fulfillment network.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Professor Richard Jolly. He taught us a course on Building Your Leadership Legacy. He covered highly relevant topics, ones that we would immediately encounter post-MBA. He focused on the delegation of tasks, affecting behavioral change in others and developing a self-development plan – all crucial skills in professional leadership positions. One highlight of the course was his lecture about navigating workplace politics. Generally, academic courses stay away from such issues. However, it’s something we all face and cannot be ignored. Professor Jolly did a wonderful job giving us insights on this.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Fisher Battleship! This occurs during the first few weeks of school. We formed teams of four consisting of both first- and second-year MBA students. The aim of the game is to sink the canoes of other teams and be the last canoe standing! This is a great way for the incoming students to get to know their peers and second years. It acts as an icebreaker for the first years and helps develop an understanding between students, leading to improved collaboration. This is vital in an MBA setting, where a lot of what you learn is from your fellow students.

Why did you choose this business school? Three reasons:

  • Customizable majors: Fisher gives the unique opportunity to make your own major. This allows students to follow their interests and make the most of their MBA.
  • Collaborative environment: The batch size of Fisher facilitates peer learning, which in my opinion is a very important part of the MBA learning experience. Unlike many larger schools in which students do not even know some peers’ names, the smaller class size of 100 permits students to know everyone, which leads to enhanced collaboration.
  • Global Applied Projects (GAP): This is one of the most unique aspects of Fisher. Students work on an international consulting project and it culminates with an in-country final presentation. I got the wonderful opportunity to work with five fellow MBAs for a non-profit in Tanzania and Kenya. We developed a business plan for self-sustainable water service franchising models for villages in these two countries.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? My advice would be to connect with a lot of current students and alums to understand if they are a good fit for the school. Often, fit is underrated, so having these conversations helps a lot. Also, come to business school with an open mind. Although it does help to have a plan for your MBA, I suggest students be eager to learn new experiences and step outside their comfort zones. I definitely learned a lot from my MBA that I had not planned for, so a willingness to experiment helps a lot.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth was that Fisher is an operations school. While the operations courses and faculty are great, the other programs are equally well-established. I took a ton of great courses on finance, marketing, leadership, among others, and my peers have landed top-notch jobs in these domains.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The MBA involves a lot of coursework, group activities, and obviously some fun is thrown in between! One thing that I regret is not having spent more time on activities outside of Fisher. The Ohio State University is a huge university with a plethora of activities and events. If I were given another chance, I would make better use of my time to take advantage of those opportunities too.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This is a tough question! It has been great to know Chris Scott. He has great communication skills and is extremely smart – a formula for success in the business world. One quality I appreciate is that he believes in paying forward – he has conducted hundreds of mock interviews for current students.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? This would be my mother. She has always been on my side and supported my decisions. When I was pondering a master’s degree, she encouraged me to explore the MBA. She believed in my abilities, and her constant backing and support encouraged me to pursue my MBA at Fisher.

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

  • Co-founder of global tech startup
  • Give a TED talk

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? An approachable, honest and intellectual person with a good sense of humor.

Hobbies? I enjoy the outdoors. I have completed a nine-day trek in the Himalayas, regularly take part in long-distance running events and am currently preparing for my first solo skydive. Speaking of hobbies, I cannot miss mentioning watching, re-watching and re-re-watching The Office.

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

“Kartik Mukundan is not just a great student and professional, he has gone out of his way to assist those around him and contribute positively to the Fisher culture. In his work with The Risk Institute, one of our important business centers on the Fisher campus, Kartik worked with partners across the campus on distracted driving research. His exceptional ability to analyze and present findings from challenging data have cemented his legacy as a top-notch graduate assistant. Moreover, he is known to be a calming and helpful friend to peers as they work through the challenges of the MBA.”

Roger Bailey
Co-director FTMBA