“On a journey to empower communities, improve discourse, and lead constructive change in society.”
Hometown: Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India
Fun Fact About Yourself: After undergrad, I completed a 1000 KMs bicycle ride across the French countryside all the way from the Alps near Grenoble to Cherbourg in Normandy. It was one of the most exquisite, and exhilarating experiences I have had.
Undergraduate School and Major: Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Bachelor of Technology – Electrical Engineering
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Bain and Company India, Consultant
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? Columbia Business School’s focus on and commitment towards social impact has been one of the reasons I chose it as my first preference. Earlier in my career, I took an externship at Omidyar Network India, which is an impact investing firm. There, I was exposed to the basics of impact investing and decided to further develop my skills to make a full transition to impact investing through an MBA at Columbia. Towards this goal, CBS stood out as the ultimate choice. It was not just because of its focus on social responsibility, its collaborative and diverse student community and its proximity to the New York’s business environment. I was also because it is unique in its approach to leadership, helping us lead through our vulnerabilities. As someone who has found great strength in accepting his biggest vulnerability – his identity – I truly believe CBS will set me up for success. But, it also helped that my boyfriend was at CBS as well.
What quality best describes your MBA classmates and why? Down-to-earth, smart, and extremely empathetic who will ensure that no one is left behind. One of the highlights of my social experience at Columbia was when, after learning about one of our peer’s parent undergoing chemotherapy, the entire cluster decided to wish her the best for her recovery with a dozen postcards. This was not a symbolic effort, but exemplified the very quintessential care and warmth one experiences from the CBS community – and that is precious.
What is the best part of coming to New York City for your MBA? I first visited NYC in the fall of 2013 from Toronto. I was a panelist at the United Nations General Assembly event on LGBT rights. I remember getting down at Port Authority Bus Terminal, walking out and thinking to myself how mesmerizing the energy of this city was. Ever since then, I have wanted to be a New Yorker. This opportunity of pursuing an MBA at CBS, therefore allowed me to fulfill this dream of mine.
What makes you most excited about getting your MBA at Columbia Business School? What makes you most nervous about your MBA? I guess the most exciting part about school in general is meeting like-minded passionate people who are ready to tackle deeply complex and complicated challenges that are being faced by businesses, organizations, and society-at-large. There are very few things that give me as much energy as collaborating with such motivated individuals, and this is something I am most excited about.
2020 has been challenging for all of us. Leaving old parents and other family members back home in India during a raging pandemic is something that is always at the back of my mind, and honestly something I am genuinely nervous about.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far. When I joined Bain and Company, I was the only ‘out’ employee in India. I did not find any role models whom I could look up to. So, I established the India chapter of BGLAD – Bain’s LGBT Association. Starting with the first ‘LGBT open session’ in 2016 – which was a highly successful event with more than 40 participants – I grew the group to a strength of more than 15 LGBT members. This made it one of the biggest BGLAD groups outside the US.
However, in 2016, a draconian colonial legislation in India prohibited homosexual acts that resulted in some push-back from the ‘Global Risk management team’ who expressed legal concerns. I addressed the concerns of the global team by clearly articulating the rationale behind the group and connecting them to Indian constitutional lawyers to allay their apprehensions. Finally, the Global team was convinced and allowed BGLAD India to function freely.
Ever since, my team and I set-up a proactive system of recruiting the best LGBT talent and created an inclusive space where fellow Bainees can bring out the best version of themselves. Beyond Bain, I have actively worked to nurture queer groups in various campuses we hire from. BGLAD has funded case-study competitions in various IIMs and taken “Faces of Diversity” talk-series across multiple IITs and Indian School of Business. As a result of these efforts, the internal NPS of Bain as an LGBT-friendly place of work has improved by ~20% over the last 3 years.