Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Nidhi Agarwal, University of Washington (Foster)

Nidhi Agarwal

University of Washington, Michael G. Foster School of Business

“Small towner with a global mindset and a dream to make sustainability more accessible.”

Hometown: Alwar, Rajasthan, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I once traveled to Paris with a small gym bag and zero pre-bookings. I ended up travelling to 6 countries for a month on that same trip before returning home.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor of Commerce from University of Delhi (India), Master of Science in Finance from Bocconi University (Milan, Italy)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Financial Analyst at Four Partners Advisory SCF SpA (Multi-family office based in Italy)

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? Seattle is home to high impact companies – I am particularly inspired by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The community is beautifully diverse and vibrant. It is also one of the most progressive cities in America with people valuing gender, racial, and LGBTQ equality. The connection to nature is very important and Seattle is surrounded by mountains and water. There are encouraging signs of the city becoming more accessible with the Sound Transit System and more prominent bike lanes. There’s so much in the mix that Seattle offers which makes it a great place to get an MBA.

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? Foster lets you forge a path that is unique to you. The courses, training, and career service help isn’t limited to any sector. And I was particularly impressed by the Foster Venture Fellows program. Here,  where with help of the Foster community, students created this small group that is unlike any student organization I have heard of. It prepares you for the PE/VC industry through effective networking, and helps you get experience in the sector before school ends.

Foster has a diverse community and UW hosts a large international community – which has led to value for and high empathy towards minorities and internationals.

A small help can go a long way. I have mentored and been mentored in every step of my career and I am delighted by the mentoring program at Foster. The career services team at Foster is brilliant and they do everything in their power to support you throughout your career search journeys. Being an international student comes with its own challenges, especially when it comes to job search. The careers team understands this and is very well equipped to handle the challenges with you.

Another thing that really attracted me to Foster is the small class and close-knit setting. It takes collaboration among students, professors and alumni seriously. Everyone is actively seeking to know your story, learn from and with you, and help you further your journeys.

I believe the down-to-earth and collaborative attitude of Foster along with the things I mentioned, were some of the major factors that influenced my decision to attend Foster.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? Net impact, EVCC (Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Club), Diversity in Business, and MBA Huddle. Net Impact and EVCC excite me because I am keen on exploring innovation and entrepreneurship in the sustainability sector. Diversity in Business attracts me because I am vocal about positive impacts of and need for diversity. And Huddle just brings together the big community of Foster.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Leading a client’s sustainability-focused portfolio.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I want to transition from generic wealth advisory to sustainability focused venture capital / start-up and explore these opportunities in the US. An MBA would make the transition smooth and equip me with the right skills and network.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? While I don’t recall a challenging question per se, I found myself intimidated by the camera. It’s much easier to communicate emotions with clarity and receive subtle feedback when not interacting in person. We are receiving formal training at Foster to overcome that camera fear and present our best selves on camera – something I truly appreciate.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? Some of the initial filters I used included the following: progressive school and city, well ranked course, high class diversity. Once I had a relatively smaller list of schools, I tried to attend MBA events that happened in Italy, reached out to current and past students on LinkedIn, read what FT and Poets&Quants had to say for them, scouted through school’s websites to see whether the curriculum and organizations were a fit, and just asked friends and family what they thought of the university. In all of this, talking to students helped me best understand the school culture. I was looking for a close-knit community where everyone was helping each other achieve goals and were willing to learn from each other. I valued a growth mindset and willingness to have a positive impact on the community.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My defining moment came when I read through annual reports of companies and whatever I could find online about the actions they are taking to combat climate change. I did this while I was helping a client create a sustainable portfolio. The readings made me optimistic because of all the innovation that’s been happening that could actually move the needle. I wanted to become a part of it.

Having clarity on what excites me is helping me make right choices at Foster and not be overwhelmed by all the opportunities a presents me.

What special ingredient do you see yourself bringing to the Class of 2022? How will that enrich the MBA experience? I was born in a small village in India where formal education wasn’t all pervasive. In fact, I am the first person in my family to attend high school. Having navigated through various societies, mindsets, and cultures in India and later in Europe, I have developed a global mindset and empathy for different perspectives. I have also seen how the same problems are addressed differently across the world. So my special ingredient would be my global experience that I believe is unique to me. And I hope to bring my experience to the classroom by addressing various ways a problem could be looked at, and by embracing all cultures.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I recently learned about an Indian clothing company called Doodlage. They upcycle factory/consumer waste and produce beautiful clothing. Basically negative carbon emissions! And it was started by a woman.

We often see high-end fashion brands create a small line created from upcycled waste – but it’s often outrageously expensive. Doodlage on the other hand exclusively produces upcycled clothing and it’s affordable. They encourage slow living by making it high quality. 10% of total carbon emissions come from the fashion industry – more than emissions from international flights and maritime shipments combined. It is the second largest emitter of CO2 – only behind oil and gas industry. This is alarming! And we need companies like Doodlage to help change that. Also, in all my interactions with the company, I could sense their passion and their willingness to satisfy all needs of the consumers to make the experience unforgettable.

Doodlage is a small and mostly unknown company. But they believe in something and are making an impact by helping people live a sustainable lifestyle. And there is so much we as business students and potentially emerging entrepreneurs could learn from them.



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