“Passionate about entrepreneurship and business and devoted to solving problems using technology.”
Hometown: Hyderabad, India
Fun fact about yourself: I have Lepidopterophobia – a fear of butterflies.
Undergraduate School and Degree: B.Tech in Engineering Physics, Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati
Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Product Growth Manager at Facebook, Inc.
Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Boston Consulting Group, Austin
Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group, Austin
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:
* AVP of Education, Ross Technology Club: As the AVP, I worked with the RTC leadership team to conduct Sunday education sessions where we invited speakers from tech backgrounds to share their experiences and knowledge on different aspects concerning tech recruitment.
* Peer Support Network mentor: As a PSN mentor, I worked in a team of 3 to support and guide the incoming MBA students and help them settle into their new lives in Business School.
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am the product & strategy lead for an early-stage Ross-alumni-led stealth project. I am most proud of the fact that over the course of my last two years at Ross, I have transitioned from someone who was absolutely risk-averse and stuck to her comfort zone to someone who is confident enough to step up and take on bigger responsibilities. The plethora of opportunities available at Ross, the action-based learning that is ingrained in our curriculum, and the extremely inspiring stories of my classmates gave me the push that I very much needed to do something I always wanted to do: being an entrepreneur. As the product lead, I have been able to bring my team together and help them visualize the product that we hope to build over the next few months. I conceptualized and completed the product design for the project and led my team to participate in the Michigan Business Challenge. The fact that I was eventually able to do this alongside managing my other school commitments like academics, networking, recruitment, and my social life is a big milestone in my personal growth goals.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of the impact I was able to have in solving core issues that inhibited women from using Facebook. As a Product Growth Manager for the Indian market, I interviewed over 200 women from different socio-economic classes to understand their growing concerns about privacy and security on online platforms. I worked closely with the “Women in Emerging Markets” team at Facebook to convert these insights into tangible features that alleviated many of those concerns and enabled women to freely express themselves on the platform. During my engagement with the company, I also traveled to different corners of India, interacting with students, homemakers, working professionals, and farmers to understand the role that technology has played in their lives. My conversations with them reinforced my belief in the power of digital communication and led me to pursue my post-MBA career path in Digital Consulting, where I aim to help companies better understand and reach their end customers using technology.
Why did you choose this business school? Most of the top business schools offer amazing but similar academic and extracurricular experiences, so I had to identify other nuances to aid me in making my decision. There were three major reasons why I gravitated primarily towards Michigan Ross:
1) I found the team activity that Ross conducted in India really helpful, as it gave an additional touch point with the school as well as an insight into the much talked about team culture which promoted collective ambition.
2) This was the first time where I was going to be far away from my family for an extended duration and step away from that bubble of protection that I always took for granted. The approachability of Ross alumni and the AdCom and their eagerness to help me with the entire application process made me feel like these strangers whom I barely knew were rooting for my success. I had found a home away from home.
Lastly, having grown up in the hot and humid climate of India, the idea of staying at a place that was cold and cozy attracted me. I must admit that it has been a wonderful experience to enjoy four distinct seasons every year.
What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? There are many traditions that made my experiences at Ross unique and special. They include like “Food, Friends & Culture”, where students got the chance to participate and share their culture with the larger community, and “Ross Bus”, where students convened for a pre-game before every football match during the season.
As hard as it is to choose one, my most favorite event at Michigan Ross is Diwali night. In my first year, the entire Ross community came together and celebrated this night with great enthusiasm. Students from across the world teamed up together and danced away to tunes that I grew up listening to. That night, I felt like I was back in India, celebrating with my new Ross family. Fast forward a year, even the pandemic did not stop us from continuing our Diwali tradition with the same energy. We found safe and socially distant ways to showcase our performances and cheer for each other on Zoom.
Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?m At its very core, the life of an MBA student is governed by three major spheres of influence: Academics, Recruitment, and Social Life. During my first year, I focused more on academics and recruitment while neglecting my social obligations. However, having gone through the grind, I now realize that it is possible to prioritize your commitments in a manner such that you devote ample time to all three. Retrospectively, I wish I took a balanced approach and participated in more social events because one of the most important aspects of going to business school is making connections, and they last a lifetime!
What surprised you the most about business school? The thing that surprised me the most about business school was how rigorous the first couple of terms are and how early the recruitment process starts. Business school expects you to hit the ground running and put in the hard yards as soon as classes start. On the bright side there will always be amazing people around you to share your frustrations, pick you up wh,en you are down, and celebrate your victories.
What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I spent a lot of time researching different schools, speaking to alumni, and learning more about the location. I believe the most important aspect of applying is to select schools whose culture resonates with who you are as a person. From there, this connection naturally comes to the fore in your applications. I feel the application process is less about doing something drastically different from your fellow applicants and more about showcasing your strengths in the best possible light. My strength was my experience in the Tech industry. By being able to succinctly communicate my story and by emphasizing my personality traits clearly, I was able to show the school that I would fit right into their culture.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Michigan Ross is filled with students from extremely impressive and motivating backgrounds. My interactions with most of my peers have often left me in awe of what they have accomplished before and during business school. One such classmate is my dear friend, Kene Onuorah. He’s an extremely sincere and hard-working person who truly embodies the idea of following one’s purpose. Kene is smart, multi-talented, and offers very engrossing perspectives in class discussions. He is also one of those people who binds our class together and ensures that everyone feels like we’re part of the family.
Alongside juggling multiple internships, Kene recently launched his new venture, “Comme Homme”, along with another classmate who shares the same vision of enabling men to embrace their natural evolution. I still remember the day he first told me about the idea when it was in its nascent stages. Kene followed his dreams, won the Michigan Business Challenge and also successfully raised initial capital for his firm.
How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? The initial shift to the virtual environment was rough and unwelcoming. We were eagerly looking forward to experiencing our term-long MAP (action-based learning program) journeys, but our travel plans got canceled, meetings shifted entirely to Zoom calls, and our extremely busy business school lives came to an unexpected standstill. However, thanks to the continued support and involvement of the Ross community, including the management, the professors and the students, we were able to bounce back and regain some of the initial drive that kept us going. Over time, my productivity increased due to fewer distractions and I was eventually able to get over the mental obstacles of online communication. Having said that, I still miss going to class and engaging in deep discussion on various topics.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My best-friend and partner, Kushal Rathore (MBA’20 Duke Fuqua) motivated me to pursue business in college. I was initially planning to slowly grow up the ladder by continuing my career in the tech industry. However, through him and his MBA experiences, I was able to understand the impact that a business school can have on both our personal and professional development. I realized that the sheer number of rich experiences and opportunities we have, the access to the school alumni network, and the increased awareness of how businesses work, all provide a platform that can increase our career growth exponentially.
What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?
* To start my podcast series aimed at spreading awareness on the wide range of career opportunities available to undergraduate students in India.
* Long-term goal: Consult with the government of India to reform the education system.
What made Neha such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?
“Neha represents the best and brightest of Ross MBA students that I have had the pleasure to teach over my considerable time here. She combines intellectual curiosity, high energy, leadership skills, and compassion for others. While I could highlight her excellent contribution to my own class in terms of her participation and performance, I would like to focus on what makes her so valuable to Ross.
A major driver of Neha’s actions is her drive to make this world a better place for others. Keenly sensitive, she is adept at finding “gaps,” both professional and personal, and coming up with solutions to help others. As an example of the former, she noticed that there is a lack of awareness/knowledge around product management careers at Ross. So she took upon herself to be a resource for MBA students, both formally (as part of the MBA Tech Club) and informally (guiding many MBA 1s over chats). On the personal front, she took on the role of a Social Mentor, helping MBA 1s adjust to Ross, especially during the pandemic. Reflecting on her own experiences, she also began a podcast targeted at undergraduates, especially in emerging markets, to expose them to non-traditional career journeys. Finally, she has taken the “product” role for startup founded by a Ross alum – this startup (in stealth mode currently) not only addresses a consumer “pain point,” it does so for a segment of the market that is often “discriminated” against (on the basis of socio-demographics).
In conclusion, Neha’s qualities and the positive externalities that they generate make me consider her as an exemplar of an MBA student.”
Professor of Marketing
The Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan
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