2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Karthik Rai, Michigan State (Broad)

Karthik Rai

Eli Broad College of Business, Michigan State University

“A Passionate problem solver and a compassionate human looking to positively impact the world.”

Hometown: Mangalore, India

Fun fact about yourself: I am a numismatic, I have collected currency notes and coins from over 70 countries.

Undergraduate School and Degree: R.V. College of Engineering, Bangalore – Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? PwC US Advisory (Bangalore Office), Experienced Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? Kearney, Chicago

Where will you be working after graduation? Kearney, Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Broad Consulting Club
  • Recipient of Broad Warrior Award (Voted best student by faculty)
  • Graduate and Teaching Assistant for Career Management, Accounting Decision Making and Financial Reporting strategy
  • Full-time Career Peer Coach to the class of 2022

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of maintaining a perfect 4.0 GPA in all the classes I have taken. I am particularly proud of this because I did this while actively participating in various social and extracurricular activities, working two jobs on campus, and taking on several leadership roles. Additionally, I have represented MSU at several MBA case competitions. and have won the 25th Annual International Supply Chain Case Competition organized by the Tepper School of Business.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The achievement I am most proud of in my professional career was to get hired into my previous team at PwC US Advisory in the Bangalore office. The Operations and Supply Chain team predominantly hired from the top business schools in India. I believe that my preparation and dedication to crack the extensive case interviews and convince the team of my abilities really helped my case. Additionally, to validate my work the team had promoted me within 5 months of me joining the firm. The opportunity changed my career for the better by opening several doors for me and leading to my MBA.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose MSU’s Broad college of business for the following two reasons.

First, it was the program’s leading supply chain concentration option. Having a background in supply chain in the field of manufacturing and logistics consulting, I wanted to advance my career in the same area and function. MSU’s supply chain program is top-ranked with several distinguished professors teaching the courses. This I felt like the right choice to me.

Second, I learnt about the unique charity auctions that the program organizes. In the event fellow, classmates and faculty auction either a fun activity with them or some product that they have made. The proceeds of the auction are used to help local businesses. This event showed me that the program aligned with my belief in giving back to society.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor must be our Corporate Finance professor, Dr. Charles Hadlock. He was very enthusiastic and passionate about the subject and had a unique way of pushing students to work harder. His enthusiasm trickled down to the students and I enjoyed his classes to the extent that I decided to pursue a dual concentration in Supply Chain and Finance. His foundation finance classes were critical to help me understanding the subject matter and successfully achieve a concentration in Finance.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why?

This surely is hindsight bias, but looking back one thing I would have done differently is to spend more time exploring the campus and the culture of the school and attend more of the sporting activities the Spartans are known for. I was so driven to secure my career prospects that I kept pushing my plans to do the above activities. However, towards the end of the first year, COVID-19 hit and I was unable to do most of the stuff I had planned to. This goes back to show that it is important to enjoy the journey and to not postpone things you want to do, because you never know what the future holds for you.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Biggest myth about the school is that it is a good school for only Supply Chain enthusiasts. While supply chain is the school’s strength, the other departments are very strong. Having taken a few electives across the HR, Finance and Marketing departments, I can say that we have some amazing faculty in these departments. We have had some great thought leaders in these other areas come and share their experience with us. I believe these electives will help me become a better consultant, who has a 360-degree understanding of the business world.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I believe the aspect that gave me an edge at MSU during the application process was my strong supply chain expertise and background. Knowing that MSU was known for supply chain, I was sure to highlight the varied supply chain consulting experience that I was fortunate to have. Additionally, I highlighted that I would actively contribute towards peer learning by sharing my experience and that I would leverage my network to bring in guest speakers to share their experiences. I am glad that I was able to back this up by actively participating and contributing to class and was recognized by the professors with the Broad Warrior Award. In the second year, I was elected as the president of the consulting club and in the position, I was able to bring in guest speakers to help fellow aspiring consultants.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? While I believe that each student in the program brings something unique and has qualities to admire, the classmate I admire the most is Shanna Bell.

One of the days when we shared a bus ride to school, Shanna shared her story with me. She moved with her siblings from Jamaica at an early age of 10. As an immigrant, she faced several challenges but was sure to pursue education. After her undergraduate studies, she took up a job as a middle school teacher in Connecticut, where I am sure she inspired a lot of young children. She mentioned that she will be the first in her family to pursue an advanced degree.

Through my interactions, I have observed that she is extremely hardworking and keeps challenging herself to do better. For example, she initially struggled with quantitative subjects, but pushed herself to take on several challenging finance classes. She is graduating with a double major in Human Resources and Marketing and is joining a consulting firm after graduation. Her story inspires me to be better and is an inspiration to everyone in the MBA community.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? Surprisingly, it was not a very disruptive shift to an online format when COVID-19 hit. I still distinctly remember that it was just the 2nd day after spring break when the school announced that we would move to an online format. It was a Tuesday, and the classes were suspended for just one day on Wednesday and the professors were all set to begin online classes on Thursday. So, the disruption was not very significant. I was surprised because, when the classes moved online, it was seamless, and the faculty was able to keep the class engaged and get their points across effectively. While I really would love to have had more classes in person in the second year, given the circumstances, I believe the faculty did a good job continuing to provide quality education.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad has been the most influential person in my life, not just in my decision to pursue business in college. I lost my mother when I was 10 years old, but my dad ensured that my brother and I do not face any major challenges when it came to education. While I am completing my MBA in the US, my brother is pursuing his medical degree in the UK. Although medicine was the preferred field of study for my family, my dad gave me the freedom to pursue a career of my choice. He did not really understand the business world, but he recognized that I thrived more in the field of business and supported me to pursue a career in a field that might not be his preferred choice for me. I hope to succeed in my career and make him proud.

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

  1. Become a subject matter expert in the field of supply chain and operations. I aim to have the knowledge, expertise, and skills to help organizations (clients) improve their operational efficiencies.
  2. To have fast track career path to make Partner at Kearney.

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

“Karthik has been an academic superstar and an exceptional student leader. He entered this program and immediately impressed his faculty and administration with his technical acumen and insatiable willingness to learn. These traits culminated with Karthik achieving a perfect 4.0 grade point average in the MBA program, a truly impressive feat.

However, Karthik’s successes have also had an exponential synergistic affect on the MBA program as a whole. He is part of the first team to win the SCM/Tepper Case Competition, the best showing for an MBA case team in over ten years. He is the President of the Broad Consulting Club and has worked tirelessly to provide access to consulting companies and education for his colleagues, a very challenging effort given the hurdles the pandemic has presented. His efforts have led directly to creating additional access to consulting positions for his colleagues at Broad. Finally, Karthik’s sense of service supports all his professional work. Recently, the Multicultural Business Program (Broad’s premier DEI organization) reached out for MBA student coaches to serve as mentors for their college-level case competition. Without hesitation, Karthik volunteered, and garnered the support of his entire E-board to participate 20 hours of coaching time to enhance each undergraduate team’s process and presentation. This engagement is the first time that MBA and the Multicultural Business Program have partnered, and the success of the engagement bodes well for the future. Engagements like these are made possible by students like Karthik, who epitomize service leadership. We celebrate his achievements and are very excited to watch him soar in his future career!”

Wayne R. Hutchison
Managing Director, FTMBA


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