2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Anupama Tadanki, Emory University (Goizueta)

Anupama Tadanki

Emory University, Goizueta Business School

“Vegan-cooking and music-loving social impact/strategy consultant.”

Hometown: Irvine, CA

Fun fact about yourself: I skipped my sweet 16 inadvertently when I flew over the international dateline. I’ve tried to make up for it every birthday since!

Undergraduate School and Degree:  University of Southern California – BS, Global Health

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?  The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation – Program Associate, Global Development and Population

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? McKinsey & Company – Summer Associate, Atlanta

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey & Company – Associate, Atlanta

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Awards:

Robert J. Woodruff Scholarship (full-tuition and stipend)

Peer-selected for the “Integrity” Core Value Award

Leadership:

Managing Director, Goizueta Impact Investors

Co-President, Emory Global Health Institute’s Student Advisory Committee

Social Enterprise @ Goizueta Fellow

IMPACT Coaching Fellow

Graduate Student Government Legislative Representative for Goizueta Business School

Community:

Researcher for The Carter Center

Planning member for the John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am so grateful to my peers and mentors for giving me the opportunity to serve as a leader for Goizueta Impact Investors, Emory’s $80,000 MBA student-led impact fund. This opportunity allowed me to both experientially learn about the technicalities behind impact investments as well as build my leadership skills through managing a board of nine brilliant students and 50+ club members. The opportunity even led me to conduct exploratory research for the top leaders of a major Atlanta-based international development organization looking to enter the impact investing space. After working with GII, I do hope that my career will ultimately take me to a role at an impact investment fund.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? A highlight from my work with a US-based philanthropic organization was the opportunity to lead the development of a learning agenda focused on diversity and equity in international grant-making. In all honesty, at the start of the project, I had no idea what an “agenda” entailed. A detailed project plan for training? A system for collecting feedback from grantees? The experience taught me to embrace ambiguity at the beginning of a project. Though I myself was not an expert on the topic, through leading design thinking brainstorming sessions and collecting feedback from colleagues, the learning agenda was developed over a few months. The final product helped position our team —which provided around $100 million annually to organizations around the world — as a thought leader among peer funders for inclusive philanthropic practice. I am proud that the lessons I learned from this experience carried into my current role as Co-President of the Emory Global Health Institute’s Student Advisory Committee. The theme of our club’s work this year has been decolonization in global health, and one of our guest speakers was my former colleague and leader of the diversity and equity project!

Why did you choose this business school? Goizueta Business School was a no-brainer for me because of the strong dual MBA/MPH program as well as its commitment to social impact. Days after I was accepted into the MBA program, I was also invited to join the Roberto C. Goizueta Business & Society Institute’s Social Enterprise Fellowship, which has been one of my most meaningful business school experiences. Through this program, I was given leadership opportunities, mentorship, professional development, as well as a group of like-minded friends to lean on. As someone who has aspirations to build a future career focused on social impact, the support and training made available through the Institute and fellowship gave me the confidence that Goizueta was willing to invest in its students with interests similar to mine.

What is the biggest myth about your school? A huge myth about Goizueta Business School is that it is heavily focused on healthcare because of its proximity to the Emory Healthcare system and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there are many resources to help get you into the healthcare industry, the percentage of students going into healthcare full-time after graduation is much smaller than you would think. However, students are provided with many opportunities to work on healthcare projects for class. For example, I am currently coaching a first-year team working on a monetization project for the CDC.

What surprised you the most about business school? I mistakenly began my program with the belief that I’d be immersed in a cutthroat, competitive environment fueled by testosterone. What I experienced instead was a warm and supportive community that shared successes and opportunities with one another. While business school still is largely male-dominated, the networks and support systems for women are robust. I found that women faculty and alumnae often gave me extra feedback to support my efforts to develop a more commanding presence in corporate environments.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I had the good fortune of being able to meet with the Managing Director of the Roberto C. Goizueta Business & Society Institute in-person prior to submitting an application. Additionally, I connected with several current MBA students through Goizueta’s Admissions Ambassadors program to learn about their experiences. I believe that this demonstrated effort to get to know the school was well received by the admissions committee and also allowed me to create an early personal brand around my interests in healthcare and social impact. Most importantly, however, the insights that I gleaned from these conversations were immensely useful for the interview process. I was able to specifically connect my professional goals with Goizueta’s programmatic offerings and ask meaningful questions about the future of the school.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I am honored to be a classmate and friend of the visionary changemaker, Willie Sullivan. After a tumultuous 2020 summer that brought efforts against racial injustices to the forefront, Willie seized the opportunity to do something about it. He recruited a group of classmates to help him organize the student-driven, inaugural John R. Lewis Racial Justice Case Competition at Goizueta Business School. The purpose of the competition was to enable Fortune 500 companies to be presented with student proposals for ways to implement racial equity efforts within their companies. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the organizing committee and saw first-hand how indefatigable Willie and the rest of the team were in bringing the case competition to life. Within a matter of a few months, we received applications from more than 100 teams across 52 universities, selected 24 finalists to present their proposals to 6 corporate sponsors, and directed $70,000 in contributions to racial justice projects across the country. Willie’s vision allowed multiple corporations to take their commitment against racial injustice from idea to action, and for this he is a true inspiration of mine.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? We at Goizueta, along with the whole world, were shocked to learn that we would not finish out the semester together. However, the transition to “Zoom life” was far smoother than I had expected. While nothing could replace an in-person experience, there was a surprising positive that I discovered: the standardization of recorded lectures, which allowed me to absorb material at the pace that I wanted. Our professors and peers put in an enormous amount of effort to maintain our sense of community. Special shout-out to my classmates and Social Chairs, Tara Thomas and Robert Brooks, for creatively finding ways for us to connect at our weekly virtual happy hours. They organized talent shows, cocktail making classes, games, and more. I’m forever grateful to the Goizueta community for coming together and providing critical support to one another during such a scary and uncertain time period.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad. I was inspired by how his MBA provided him with a tight network of friends, opened doors to meaningful professional opportunities, and allowed him to create success for himself in a new country. I always admired how business gave him a shared language with people from all different types of backgrounds and enabled him to problem solve across industries and functions. Though he came from a traditional corporate environment, he’d regularly help me analyze challenges that I was experiencing in my nonprofit roles and brainstorm strategies to address them. I hope to be able to do the same – be an informed thought partner – for my friends and family in the future!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. Start a women-in-healthcare happy hour club in Atlanta. Thank you to my ex-colleague, Margot Fahnestock, for the inspiration!
  2. Conduct an important business meeting in a language other than English!

What made Anupama such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“Anupama Tadanki has been a shining light at Goizueta even before she officially started the program in the fall of 2019. She was selected as a Woodruff Scholar earlier that year, and immediately engaged in the community. It has been no surprise that, as a 2nd year scholar, she naturally stepped up as a mentor to our 1st year scholars and their classmates. As a dual-degree student, she is working toward her MBA and a Master of Public Health simultaneously. In addition to her academic demands, Anupama has shown outstanding leadership as a part of Goizueta Impact Investors and as a Social Enterprise Fellow in The Roberto C. Goizueta Business & Society Institute. Her academic and special interest pursuits make her a dynamic representative of our Goizueta community.”

Amy Bentley
Senior Associate Director for Academic Affairs

DON’T MISS: 100 BEST & BRIGHTEST MBAS: CLASS OF 2021

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