Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Shalini Chudasama, London Business School

Shalini Chudasama

London Business School

“I’m extroverted, introspective, and love to dance

I’m energized by ensuring all people can advance.”

Hometown: Raleigh, North Carolina

Fun Fact About Yourself: I taught myself how to juggle using basketballs.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, BSc in Business Administration

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Specialist, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Bain & Company

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? As someone interested in working in talent management and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) after my MBA, I was drawn to London Business School primarily due to the student diversity and faculty research. LBS has one of the most diverse student cohorts across multiple facets of identity and the professors are conducting cutting edge research at the intersection of organizational behavior, change management, and DEI topics.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? I would describe my MBA classmates as community-oriented. After welcome weekend for round two admits was canceled due to COVID-19, the round one admits went out of their way to connect with new admits, share their experiences from the earlier welcome weekend, and create community across the groups. A group of admits also spearheaded numerous initiatives to connect with classmates, including randomized small group Zoom sessions (“quaran-tea”), group fitness classes led by students, and panels on student experiences in different industries. I am so impressed by and excited to join this collaborative, community-oriented, and entrepreneurial group!

What makes London such a great place to earn an MBA degree? London is a fantastic place to earn an MBA because it is not only a global center of commerce that reflects all sectors and industries, it is also an extremely international, diverse, and culturally rich city. At LBS, I know I will have the opportunity to hear from business leaders ranging from local entrepreneurs to global CEOs. Outside of my LBS classrooms, I can explore, appreciate, and be challenged by global art, music, theater, and culture.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career accomplishment was helping develop and launch Bain’s global talent strategy, including firm-wide goals, for women at the company. This involved working with numerous stakeholders across the world and planning interactive, co-creation workshops to solicit input from over 350 firm leaders. This strategy is now the blueprint for all global activities on gender parity and led the way for other diversity groups to set their global strategy as well.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I decided to pursue an MBA after three years of working in management consulting and three years of working in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). Now felt like the best time to pursue my MBA to deepen my knowledge of organizational behavior and change management as I continue to focus on learning about DEI topics and how to effectively embed them in an organization.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Kellogg and Stanford

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? My LBS interviewer asked me why I got so many B’s when I went on an undergraduate exchange to Hong Kong. I was surprised by how closely she reviewed my transcript! I responded that I set out to balance the academic rigor with the experiential elements of living in Hong Kong, such as exploring the city and getting involved in the student community. While I plan to do well academically at LBS, I will continue to try and strike the right balance across all aspects of the MBA experience.

How did you determine your fit at various schools?  I determined fit by talking to current students and alumni about their campus involvement, the courses they most enjoyed, what their study group experience was like, and their recruitment experience. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend welcome weekends because of COVID-19, but the virtual admit communities were another tool to see the school culture in action. LBS stood out to me in terms of the international diversity of the student body and students’ curiosity, openness to new ideas, and entrepreneurial spirit of creating community on their own.

What have you been doing to prepare yourself for business school? To prepare for business school, I have been connecting with DEI professionals to learn more about their experience in the field and their biggest challenges. Hearing from leaders I look up to has shaped my reflections on how I can make the most out of my MBA experience to be prepared to meet those challenges when I graduate. I have also taken time to rest and relax since I know school will be very busy once I get to London!

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? As a consultant, I took six months’ leave from Bain to consult for non-profits with the Bridgespan Group in Mumbai, India. As a first-generation Indian American, I did not expect a difficult transition to life in India. My first week on the job, a colleague reviewed my work and told me that my language was confusing, indirect, and too “American.” Instead of saying to a client “we would appreciate it if…” or “do you mind please…”, my colleague suggested that I more succinctly and directly communicate what we needed. On a separate occasion, when my direct report did not incorporate my feedback, my mentor in Mumbai explained that because I told my direct report, “I would do it this way,” she interpreted my comment as suggestion, not direction. Luckily, I had the trust and relationships to receive this feedback and adjust, while my team also adapted to my style. However, I realized in absence of a supportive environment, misunderstandings driven by differences in lived experiences create frustration and mistrust, thereby inhibiting an organization’s ability to achieve their goals. This experience prompted my own curiosity to continue to understand these challenges, why they arise, and how to ensure organizations create environments where individuals, regardless of their background, can succeed.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? There are many companies innovating and driving progress in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion across gender, race, sexual orientation, and other aspects of identity. One company that stands out to me is Sky UK, the British telecommunications company. Sky UK’s CEO regularly reinforces his commitment to inclusion publicly, the company has successfully launched numerous initiatives to demonstrably grow diverse representation in leadership, and the firm continues to publicly share data, their approach, and the types of programs that are helping to drive their successes. Business students can learn from Sky UK’s efforts about the importance of leadership buy-in, execution, and transparency in collectively pushing progress in DEI in the corporate world.

DON’T MISS: Meet London Business School’s MBA Class Of 2022

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