2020 MBAs To Watch: Snigdha Sinha, University of Maryland (Smith)

Snigdha Sinha

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith School of Business

In the constant pursuit of finding her “ikigai” while becoming a choice architect.”

Hometown: India (military child) (Pune & Trivandrum) and Singapore

Fun fact about yourself: When I’m watching a movie/series or reading a book (mostly thriller genre), just when I am about 30% done, I skip to the ending and watch/read it. Then, I come up with my own version of how the story would have panned out to come to that end. Finally, I resume watching/reading to see how the plot actually unfolds and how close I got, the clues I missed, etc. (I am well aware this is nightmarish for a lot of people!)

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of Pune, Bachelor of Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Lead – SocialStory at YourStory Media

Where did you intern during the summer of 2018? Product Management Intern at GoCanvas, Reston, Virginia

Where will you be working after graduation? Senior Product Manager at Amazon

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Dean’s Fellow
  • Forté Fellow
  • VP – International Student Affairs MBAA (MBA Association Board)
  • VP – Internal and External Affairs, International MBA Association (IMBAA)
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant – Managerial Economics & Public Policy
  • Graduate Assistant – Employer Development
  • Tutor – Data, Models, & Decisions (Executive MBA students)
  • Deloitte Case Competition (2019) – Winner
  • International Student Orientation – Committee Chair
  • Team Building Chair – MBA Class of 2021
  • Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship – MBA Consulting Project with MedX Health

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? While getting elected to the MBA Association (MBAA) board was very special, something else made me beam with pride and joy. At the end of the first year, students apply for graduate assistantships. Then, if the fit is right, they are interviewed, and finally selected. One day, I get an email from Dr. Rachelle Sampson, who taught me the course “Managerial Economics and Public Policy” in the first (fall) semester. She said that given my excellent performance, I would make a great TA for the incoming MBA class. I was humbled, honored, and thrilled, especially given I had an engineering undergraduate degree and no prior training in economics. The class is admittedly one of the most fast-paced and challenging courses with an extremely steep learning curve. I was even more excited to help others find the same joy in economics as I did. As a TA, I felt immense contentment from helping students unpack problems, relate concepts back to what we observe and read every day, and asking them questions that gently nudged them in the right direction and eventually arrive at the answer all by themselves! There is unparalleled joy in seeing that transformation in a student and perhaps, it made me realize that I’m a teacher at heart.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In 2015, I was working at one of India’s leading media-tech companies, YourStory. Here, I was leading the SocialStory business vertical that champions social enterprises and entrepreneurs and celebrates people who have the courage to go beyond the ordinary. One day, I was contacted by a national-level boxing champion, Mrunal Bhosale, whose dream was to represent India at the Olympics and bring home a gold medal. His dreams were on the verge of being cut short because he didn’t have the financial means to continue training. He was recovering from an injury and needed resources to finance rehabilitation and physiotherapy, had no sponsorships, and was one of the primary breadwinners for his family. Mrunal put his dreams on the back burner and started driving a goods carrier to make a living. He asked if I could pen his story and bring it forward. Moved by his struggles, I immediately authored and published his story. Mrunal’s story resonated with many, and one of them turned out to be a sports enthusiast, who offered Mrunal a job that would allow him to be financially stable and refocus the majority of his time training for representing India at Olympics. I will never forget the phone from Mrunal and his tears of joy. To be able to champion a national athlete’s dream, there is no greater achievement than that.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Shreevardhan Lele, the Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs for MBA Programs. I have been fortunate to have taken classes taught by Dr. Lele in three of my four MBA semesters: Business Analytics using Statistics, Games Theory and Incentives, and Ethical leadership. Game theory was a game-changer! He is an instructor par excellence who sets you on an exploratory path that has many “aha” moments waiting to be discovered. The biggest takeaway has been how to understand and question the constructs – you unlearn, learn, relearn, stretch, flex and enjoy the process. There is no better way to put it than this quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes: “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimension.” Also, any student of Dr. Lele would likely attest that he has the best one-liners. For instance, seconds before you are about to begin writing his exam, he’ll proclaim: “You live by partial credit, you die by partial credit.” And outside the classroom, he is a very cool guy who is approachable to chat with – be it about food, politics, or just life!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Without a doubt, this one is the “party bus” tradition that happens at the end of the fall semester, usually the very evening of the last exam. We rent two buses and the first- and second-year MBAs hop on, singing and dancing, all while making stops around D.C. (Attention: This bus is unlike any other bus and I’m not at the liberty to share anymore!) On a more serious note, the first semester is often termed as “drinking through a fire hose” and that is not an exaggeration by any means. It truly tests you and sometimes can leave you down and out. The party bus is a celebration of not just surviving those brutal months, but also how we are all in this together and are each other’s safety nets. You look at the faces in that bus and realize –- we are part of one fabric, these are my people, and this is my family.

Why did you choose this business school? It was for a multitude of reasons. First, I was looking for a combination of an extremely diverse cohort and a smaller class size. I come from an army background, which means that I’ve moved every two years and experienced new cultures, met new people, and exchanged perspectives. I enjoy interacting with people and getting to know them instead of just being acquaintances. This wouldn’t have been possible with a larger class size. Secondly, I was committing two years to learning and growth, and thus I wanted a more personalized experience, and I knew this was possible at Smith. Last but not the least, Smith has world-class faculty and I wanted the opportunity to be taught by some of the best minds in their respective fields.

What is your best advice to an applicant hoping to get into your school’s MBA program? First, in the application phase, use the optional essay: your resume and other essays can only take you so far. In the optional essay, show how you are different, celebrate it, and talk about how it is going to make your peers’ experience even richer. Second, in the interview phase (and this is probably one of the best pieces of advice someone else gave me): If an ad-com interviewer can picture you as one of the faces walking the hallways or being in class, you have aced your interview. This is a function of the depth of your research, how genuine you are, how committed you are to the program, and how clearly you articulate all of this in your interview.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The oh-so-controversial legend – Testudo’s nose! While a lot of people say it’s a myth that rubbing Testudo’s nose brings you good luck, I truly believe that myth, itself, is a myth. It does bring you good luck. The trick is to rub the nose and then walk by from the left, not the right! (Remember this Terps!)

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Time management! Usually, I am not one to lament, but it would have done me wonders had I managed my time better. (I have a serious Netflix addiction!) The closer the deadline, the better my efficiency was. While I pulled through because of my ability to work nimbly under pressure, it was unnecessary stress that I induced while juggling an already exacting schedule. This is a lesson that I am going to take with me as I gear up for the post-MBA phase, which will be an exciting (and most likely more demanding) journey. However, this time I’ll be conserving all the energy I spent on handling that undue stress.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Ah! This is such a tough choice. I really do have a fantastic cohort. I deeply admire and respect Nicholas (Nick) Gummo. Not only is Nick one of the brightest individuals I have met, but also one of the kindest people –- and that is what makes all the difference. Nick has this incredible ability to listen, empathize, and yet be objective. Working with him is pure joy because he makes for an excellent teammate who shares the team’s highs and lows equally. He’s also extremely self-aware and is constantly evolving into an even better version of himself.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? It has to be my husband, Arun. I came from a home where both my parents placed education as the top priority (and believe it or not, I had MBA dreams since I was 15!). Once I started working, I slipped into a routine that made that my MBA dream sometimes feel hazy and sometimes unattainable. Arun, who is also my best friend and confidante, is an MBA himself and he saw something I had probably stopped seeing: how much I would enjoy the MBA experience. From dusting off my dreams to charting my “yellow brick road,” to helping me make the final choice of the school I would attend, he has been my prime cheerleader and has championed my dreams.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Ideate, rally, and collaborate to launch a disruptive product (in the education field) that improves access (to excellent education) for the millions that belong to the underserved communities. Education is a powerful equalizer and therefore I’m extremely passionate about it.

Get involved in or drive initiatives that are focused on mentoring young adults/budding professionals. I believe that “individualization” – finding what people are uniquely good at and enjoy doing – is a strength of mine and I would like to use it to help people find professional (and hopefully personal) contentment.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? She was inquisitive, loyal, kind, listened intently, helped without expectation, didn’t take herself too seriously, had a crazy laugh, and gave the most magical hugs! (As you can see, modesty is not one of my virtues!)

Hobbies? Swimming, cooking, traveling, and well, finding the best econ and math memes!

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

“Snigdha impressed Maryland Smith faculty and staff as soon as she stepped through the doors of Van Munching Hall. Her bright and engaging personality draws in everyone around her, and from her first moments as a Smith student, she was someone that others wanted to get to know. Growing up in a military family, she was used to moving to new locations and meeting new people. This skill proved very useful as Snigdha has built strong relationships with so many members of the Smith community and has built a vast network of faculty, current students, and alumni. She excelled in both the classroom and her job search during her first year, securing an internship at a startup that gave her the necessary skills to ultimately land her dream role at Amazon as a Senior Project Manager. In her second year, Snigdha actively engaged with the first-year students and supported them through two of their toughest classes in the fall semester – Data-Driven Decision Making and Managerial Economics & Public Policy. She held many review sessions & tutored students through these very quantitative classes, while at the same time, assisted with job searches through resume reviews and interview prep. Snigdha always stops to say hello to anyone she sees and is genuinely interested in how they are doing and how she can help with anything they might need. She is diligent, thoughtful, and strategic with her decisions, and we look forward to seeing the many great things she will do after graduation.”

Wendy W. Moe
Associate Dean of Master’s Programs


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