Meet The MBA Class Of 2021: Sandhya Narayanan, HKU Business School

Sandhya Narayanan

HKU Business School (London Business School Track)

“From finance and stock markets to writing, teaching and social impact, I want to be involved! A Chief Enthusiastic Officer, a hustler of many trades. What keeps me going is my optimism and passion to make a difference.”

Hometown: Chennai, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I prefer to spend most of the day in silence! Literally, I can work for hours and never turn on a television. Silence is probably my secret weapon to get things done and kindles my creative energy. If you thought that was boring and stoic, welcome to my other side. I have seen The Fault in Our Stars, The Notebook, Titanic, and The Pursuit of Happyness probably 50x each and I still cry my heart out every single time!

Undergraduate School and Major: Chartered Accountant – The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Product and Business Strategy Lead of an Ed-Tech startup called HashHackCode where we provide Inclusive Tech education for neurodiverse individuals around the world.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the MBA curriculum or activities that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? An MBA is a great investment of time, effort, and money. Any investment requires us to make choices after understanding trade-offs and cost-benefit analysis. While rankings of a school matter, what matters more is your fit for a school and whether it resonates with who you are and who you aspire to be. One of the most underrated but important steps for choosing a business school is extensive research and clarity of goals and expectations from the MBA program.

Therefore, I spent my pre-business school time thinking about long-term goals and decoding how that would translate to my post-MBA career aspirations. I came to know about HKU Business School both from the distinguished alumni of the school as well from my research for Asia-focused schools. The experiential case-based approach of the school curriculum and the breadth of technology and leadership electives offered at the school excited me as I wanted to make a transition from core finance into financial and technology products and lead teams as a product manager. The icing on the cake was the partnership of HKU with London Business School and Columbia Business Schools that could allow us to explore the best of both worlds – The East and the West! Unlike exchange programs, this unique partnership allows us to choose from a set of diverse electives offered at LBS/CBS.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Collaborative and warm! Today, more than ever, the future belongs to those who can build great teams and a collaborative and understanding work culture that values everyone. It is incredible that despite our cultural differences, we align ourselves on similar dreams, trust each other, and collaborate with complementing skill sets.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I would call this fulfillment rather than accomplishment. The most fulfilling and proud moment of my career has been the ability to make an impact on a community of people with different abilities.

Through my collaboration with the CEO and Founder of an inclusive Ed-Tech startup, I advocate for individuals with special needs (autism, Asperger, and other learning difficulties) to actively support the cause of inclusive education. I could build this social venture from ground-up to create an inclusive ecosystem of education and mentorship. We have a long way to go before I can claim any credit of accomplishment. However, it is indeed fulfilling to harness the intersection of technology, education and an empathetic attitude to truly transform the lives of neurodiverse individuals and create equal opportunities.

As a freelance part time writer, I write stories of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I listen to candid tales of hard work and sacrifice from entrepreneurs, artists, teachers, and NGOs. To-date I have featured over 70 entrepreneurs and individual achievers in web publications. This has helped me believe in a cause bigger than myself. I am a published writer on Medium among others.

What has been the biggest surprise in your first three months of business school? Three months of business school has been a power-packed, enriching learning experience. I have learned in interactive classrooms from world-class professors, juggled assignments, projects and case readings, and also networked and connected with different industry leaders and mentors. Time has flown by in a whim! The biggest surprise I would say is my awe of the Management team to put together a truly transformative experience while also caring for each individual’s personal career trajectory and alignment with MBA learnings. They say, it takes a village and I am thankful to the HKU MBA and LBS Team for consistently providing us the best experience despite uncertainties of the pandemic!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? As a Chartered Accountant by qualification, I have had a rewarding work experience as a finance professional prior to my MBA. My experience with Deloitte in Statutory Audit gave me exposure to work with global clients of varied sectors. At the same time, M&A experience in EY gave me the opportunity to interact with investors, investment bankers and PE Firms to perform Financial due diligence and valuation of global clients. Associating with an Ed-Tech startup has given me a holistic leadership experience while also learning the nitty-gritties of social entrepreneurship.

These experiences, along with my passion and awe of technology products, led me to aspire to transition from core finance to lead tech-driven product roles and teams. My quest for an MBA was to equip myself with executive leadership abilities and bridge my gap in technical knowledge. More than ever, in the current scenario, it has become imperative to build products that are truly transformational and I wish to be at the forefront of building and launching impactful products and creating a fulfilling, sustainable, and meaningful user experience.

It is not every day that you come across a Chartered Accountant shifting into technology driven product roles that require some amount of technical domain experience. At this juncture of transition, MBA is my perfect bridge to realise my quest for integration of passion and purpose. As wished for, the course is providing me with great insights from professors who have done some intensive research on Big Data consumer analytics, Python for Data Analytics and much more on the technical front. I’m also learning from leadership talks from some of the pioneers in technology such as Microsoft. Transformational, indeed.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I also applied to the NUS MBA, Oxford  Said School of Business and ISB apart from HKU.

What do you see yourself doing ten years from now? I was once told by my mother, “Make visible that thing, which without you, would have never been seen.” 10 years later, armed with the diverse perspectives I have acquired from business school, I would be adding value to this world – in every way I can both personally as well as professionally.

DON’T MISS: MEET HKU BUSINESS SCHOOL’S MBA CLASS OF 2021

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