Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Mahalakshmi Ganesan, Arizona State (W. P. Carey)

Mahalakshmi Ganesan

Arizona State University, W. P. Carey School of Business

Mechanical Engineer turned Social Intrapreneur. First-generation upcoming business graduate & a Forté fellow.”

Hometown: Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I was the only girl in my undergrad class of 72. I relish vegetarian food so much so that I can decode the ingredients and preparatory style of any dish blindfolded

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor of Engineering – Mechanical from Anna University

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: ALERT, Manager – Social Initiatives

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? The culture of generosity and collaboration at W. P. Carey was a significant attraction. Coming from a social impact background, the prominence placed upon sustainability and community development mattered the most to me. I could relate to the philosophy of “Business is personal” culture at W. P. Carey as it brought the humane-ness aspect of business to the forefront. As a first-generation graduate student, the availability of scholarships was very important too.

Arizona State is renowned for its innovation. How have you seen innovation in the philosophy, curriculum, or researches at W. P. Carey? Interdisciplinary Applied Learning Labs is the first thing that stands out in my mind as a testament to the innovative spirit of ASU. It allows us to work with peers from a different branch of study, say the School of Sustainability, and work on projects. The hands-on approach to simulating a real-world business environment is a great innovation. I so very look forward to it. Of course, the STEM-designated curriculum with a lot of flexibility to choose the Area of Emphasis (Concentration) and Specialization(s) gives each student a feel of “Make your own MBA”.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? Net Impact, Conscious Capitalism, and Consulting Club are my top three clubs of choice. I am looking to pivot into consulting with a special focus on sustainability and social impact. The opportunities and exposure provided by these clubs will help me greatly in my MBA journey.

I was also looking forward to Camp Carey. Unfortunately, this year it will either be virtual or cancelled which is a great miss for us! Hoping to make up with more exciting activities throughout the years!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? What other MBA programs did you apply to? In less than 18 months of joining ALERT, I didn’t just get promoted but also earned the confidence of the board to lead Bengaluru, India, a new territory. It had come after a significant CSR Project win from Ford India which was spearheaded by me.

Moving from a well-paying manufacturing MNC to a small team at a nonprofit was hard. It meant wearing multiple hats, managing crises every day, adapting quickly, being proactive, thinking outside the box, and staying creative. I took up a variety of responsibilities from managing communications and handling volunteers and patrons to leading new social campaigns and training people. My top two priorities were making a difference and constant learning by stepping out of comfort zone and I had the wonderful opportunity to do both.

This made me thirsty for a challenging global learning environment with academic business exposure. So I decided to pursue an MBA at a reputed global business school and W. P. Carey was my top choice. I had previously applied to Dartmouth’s Tuck, IE Business school and Kelley School of Business (2018 intake. In the current cycle, I had planned to apply to UNC’s Kenan-Flagler and Duke’s Fuqua but somehow I couldn’t.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? The Case interview was a little challenging because of my lack of exposure. I think I was saved by my logical thinking aptitude and go head-to-head against a challenge attitude. The interviewers’ friendly demeanor did help me with my nerves.

My first failed attempt at IIFT exam in November 2016 was my defining moment. Though I had the aptitude to ace the exam, I had failed owing to a sheer lack of preparation. It woke me up to the significance of hard work and discipline. For the first time in my life, I spent the last week of December 2016 devising my goals, values and processes. I felt confident and excited about the rigorous MBA program because I have learnt the beauty of enjoying the pain and the process and not just the results. I think this will help me greatly in my journey forward.

What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer? As I mentioned earlier, I have a keen interest in consulting with special focus on sustainability and social impact. I love the variety that consulting can offer. And it matters a lot to me that “We are doing good while doing well”.


DON’T MISS: Meet Arizona State’s MBA Class of 2022

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