Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Raman Malik, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Raman Malik

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management and McCormick School of Engineering (MMM Program)

“I am an idealist, data-nerd, maximizer, designer, and most importantly: burrito enthusiast.”

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

Fun Fact About Yourself: Pasta is my happy place

Undergraduate School and Major: Colgate University, Psychology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Lyft, Data Science Manager

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? I deeply believe in the benefits of a culture that prioritizes teamwork and collaboration. Kellogg’s unique emphasis on team-oriented activities – from group projects to design competitions – offers the opportunity develop as a better teammate and leader. Second, the MMM program’s curriculum seamlessly combines the world-class offerings at Kellogg with a degree in Design Innovation from the McCormick School of Engineering. I believe this dual curriculum will pay significant dividends throughout my career in technology when working cross-functionally with engineers, designers, marketers, and data scientists. Finally, my conversations with Kellogg alumni about their two years at Northwestern consistently illustrated a truly special experience that creates lifelong relationships and fundamental personal growth experiences.

What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Unbelievably intelligent, low-ego, and genuinely care about others. It’s difficult to pick only one. Since arriving in Evanston in July, I have been able to get to know hundreds of classmates from diverse backgrounds. They bring energy, passion, and creativity inside and outside the classroom – whether working on a group case study or planning a social event during COVID-19.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I’m really excited about Venture Lab – a program that pairs students with Venture Capital firms and portfolio companies to intern / co-op during the quarter.  As an aspiring entrepreneur, this will not only expand my network but also help me develop deeper an understanding of the fundraising and sourcing process.

Kellogg is often described as “team-driven.” In your experience, what is the most important quality of a team member? How do you intend to bring that into Kellogg?  In my experience, individuals who are low-ego, open-minded, and never forget to have fun are the backbone of any team’s success. Whether in industry clubs, interview-prep groups, KWEST hangouts, or Zoom breakout sessions, I try to always bring an enthusiastic and light-hearted attitude to the team.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Working on the growth team at Lyft for 4+ years was the most fulfilling and challenging experience of my career to-date. I had the opportunity to work across a wide range of projects: optimizing marketing channels to drive more efficient user acquisition, coding models to predict and balance supply and demand in a two-sided marketplace, and launching new cities and transportation modes across the United States and Canada. The most exciting project I worked on was developing and launching Lyft Pink: the company’s first subscription offering. The launch was the culmination of months of deliberation, customer research, financial planning, and experimentation.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? While I thoroughly enjoyed my time working in Data Science at Lyft, I became increasingly more curious other roles and industries in the technology space. I thought about the opportunity of business school and the return of investment. After two years, will I emerge a more well-rounded and diverse leader? Will I have explored and developed a better sense of the industries and roles that excite me? Will I develop a deeper sense of purpose that will serve as the guiding light for the next 30+ years of my career? Will I have the network to work on my passions and feel fulfilled with purpose?

I realized that with two years of world-class resources, a premiere business and design innovation curriculum, countless like-minded entrepreneurial classmates with diverse backgrounds and career aspirations, and endless opportunities to develop deep relationships with new friends, I would emerge from an MBA as a more versatile technology leader and business strategist with a deeper sense of purpose that will guide the rest of my career.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Stanford, Wharton, Booth, Sloan

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question during the admissions process was defining and articulating the values that have influenced me. Answering this required significant self-reflection and a deep analysis of my career-to-date – a incredibly worthwhile and fulfilling process. Turns out, this question was really just the starting point: on campus, Kellogg continues to push its students to reflect critically on their values and what matters to them most. It is these difficult, but highly rewarding, questions that initiate personal growth as a leader.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I prioritized schools that would challenge me academically, feature a world-class technology and entrepreneurship curriculum, and offer a tight-knit culture. To better understand this, I reached out to as many alumni and current students as I could and attended local information sessions. I encourage you to do the same – it’s difficult to get a sense of culture without talking to a large sample of students and alumni from each school. Eventually, certain trends will emerge that will help you determine your fit.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? I often think back to standing on the starting line of my first triathlon. The moment before a race starts is similar to the ascent on a rollercoaster: you find yourself struggling to comprehend the challenge, fatigue, and countless miles ahead while simultaneous fending off insecurities and a fear of failure. Preparing for business school was a similarly physically and emotionally draining experience: replace the early mornings of swimming, biking, and running with endless GMAT or GRE problem. As the application deadline fast approaches, insecurities about your essay and story take over.

However, I’ve learned that in triathlons, business school applications, and entrepreneurial endeavors alike, the journey to the starting line is often more difficult than the race to the finish. I learned that with a deep-rooted sense of resilience and alongside a team, we are exponentially more capable to drive change and reach new heights than we believe. Most importantly, I learned that reaching for “idealistic” personal goals is the first step in achieving something truly worthwhile.

What is your favorite company and what could business students learn from them? I have been a Strava fan for years – a fitness tracking app and social network. They are customer-obsessed, have a sleek UI, and some of the most engaging visuals to track personal fitness data. They deeply understand their customers’ needs and have tailored products over time to maximize retention and become irreplaceable in my fitness activities.