Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Shivani Handa, Indiana University (Kelley)

Shivani Handa

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

“A hummingbird with a passion to cross-pollinate ideas to help solve problems to advance communities.”

Hometown: San Diego, CA

Fun Fact About Yourself:  After finishing the grueling GMAT and B-school applications, I started casual reading again and was determined to read non-GMAT related content. I did exactly that and read books for continuous 150 days; these books might have not been literary reads, but they were highly entertaining and more in the realm of vampires, murder mysteries and Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF). Yes, my introvert side was very content.

Undergraduate School and Major: Virginia Tech – Mechanical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United States Postal Service, Operations Industrial Engineer

In the second half of the year, you will be completing an Academy devoted to areas like Marketing, Finance, Operations, Digital Enterprises and more. Which Academy interests you the most and why? I am most interested in Supply Chain & Digital Enterprise Academy with the addition of the PLUS Life Sciences program boost. I want to pursue a career at the cross-section of operations, healthcare, and data analytics. As I reflect on my next path, I want to be part of an industry that poses a challenge and impacts people’s lives day to day, all the while letting me give back to the community.

Aside from your classmates, 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? Aside from the classmates, I was drawn to Kelley because of the close-knit community created by the faculty, staff and the students. Everyone was highly engaged and invested in your success. I wanted to be part of a community that openly welcomed and uplifted students, especially as I began my MBA journey. Lastly, the Kelley clap took me by a pleasant surprise, and I wanted to be an integral part of a community that shows gratitude every day and develops leaders who help cultivate an inclusive environment.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Compassionate and Determined are the terms that best describe my MBA classmates. We are joining the school at an odd time in history as COVID-19 cases in the nation have yet to subside and how we communicate and socialize as a society is changing. However, everyone has been warm and friendly, interacting through Zoom and determined with tenacity to overcome these obstacles.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? A club that excites me is the Association of Women MBAs Student Club, as I want to continue to celebrate, mentor, coach and develop women in their professional fields. The two academic clubs that excite me are the Healthcare and Systems & Operations Management Association, as I explore these fields further. Lastly, as I love food – whether cooking it or just eating it – you would definitely find me at the food and wine club.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I was a project manager and deployed a national program to improve employee attendance and availability through improved engagement, training, compliance, and communications. I worked cross-functionally with team members across the nation to develop a training program that was to be deployed nationally. The cost avoidance for this project was projected to be at $20 million. From this project, I have learned invaluable lessons about leadership, communication, team dynamics, and cross-functional work. I received an award to exemplify my ability to work cross functionally towards a common goal of delivering excellent service to our customers, which I strive for.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? In my decade career as a public servant, I have had a wide range of experiences and have been fortunate to take upon different leadership roles in the company. In my leadership roles, I felt comfortable in my own expertise. However, I was not as comfortable when it came to other functions such as budgeting and financial datasets and I wanted to pursue an MBA to help me close that gap.

With an MBA, I would like to grow my knowledge base and learn to be a more effective leader. In this pursuit I want to continue to be a hummingbird, to better cross-pollinate ideas between different functional departments and create strategies to help achieve performance goals.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? UNC, Rice University and Vanderbilt University

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? One of the most challenging questions was, “After completing your MBA, how would you define that you were successful.” This question made me pause and reflect on how I define success and what it would look like in my MBA journey. I knew, for me, it meant creating connections and bonds with my classmates, getting actively involved in the university and the community, and becoming a better leader and a better human being overall.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? As I was going through the school selection and decision-making process, I made an Excel sheet with all the factors that were important to me and the right fit and culture was on top of the list. I visited most of my listed schools and tried to attend either the Diversity Weekend or Women’s Weekend. Being part of an inclusive community was important to me and I wanted to feel for the fit in-person, while talking to the faculty and students. Additionally, I wanted a highly engaged career services team. The Graduate Career Services Team at Kelley was very enthusiastic and emphasized on mentoring and coaching of students in their two-year journey. I wanted to partake in the Me, Inc. program and work with the certified one-on-one coaches available to ensure I’m guided on the right path for me. This year, I really enjoyed the fact that Diversity & Inclusion was integrated through Me, Inc making it a comprehensive self-reflective journey.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? Moving to the United States when I was young was one of the defining moments in my life. I saw the struggles and the decisions that my parents made in order to give their kids better opportunities in life. I am most grateful and humbled to make best of the opportunities that have been given to me and hope to only pay it forward to others.