2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Malvi Hemani, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Malvi Hemani

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

“I’m a quirky person who loves adventure. I’m known as nurturing and fun-loving.”

Hometown: Watchung, New Jersey

Fun fact about yourself: One of my favorite hobbies is to find new creative ways to bake and decorate my favorite treats. I don’t like eating the sweets that I make though, just sharing them. Is it a surprise that I started a startup centered around food?

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Johns Hopkins University – B.S. in Biomedical Engineering + Minor in Computer Science (May 2015)

Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University – MBA Candidate (June 2021)

McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University – M.S. in Design Innovation Candidate (June 2021)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was a Technology Consultant at Deloitte Consulting in Arlington, VA.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2020? I worked at Google in Mountain View, CA as a Product Manager where I designed, tested, and launched a new feature to help consumers during their journey of choosing a service provider (e.g. hair stylist, plumber, doctor).

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be going back to Google on the Geo team in Mountain View, California as a Product Manager.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

* Co-President, Women’s Business Association (WBA)

* Admissions Interviewer, Kellogg Admissions

* Non-Profit Board Fellow, Kellogg Board Fellows – Sit on the board for a local education non-profit

* Resident Team Lead, The Garage at NU – Accepted teams get help with entrepreneurial ideas

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m most proud of my achievement of starting and scaling my food-tech startup, Cravosity. I had been sitting on the idea for a while, but never felt ready or confident to pursue it. As part of my Digital Design & Development class in the spring of my first year, I decided to use my startup idea for my final project just to try it out. I was immediately hooked. I would stay up until 4 a.m. coding the features, set up weekly office hours with my professor to hash out technical questions, and interviewed 120+ customers to verify the pain point aligned with my hypotheses. Honestly, I don’t know where the fuel came from, but it never burned out!

Today, I’ve successfully launched a beta test with ~70 users in two markets, learned so much from their feedback and developed a new product roadmap that is being executed on, and grew from a one-person to a team of nine! I’m most proud of my resilience; there were so many moments where the pandemic posed particularly challenging for a food tech startup with dining restrictions and limitations on in-person interaction. I cannot thank my peers, professors, and family and friends enough for their support that really allowed me to achieve this dream and learn so much about myself and entrepreneurship! I especially want to The Garage at Northwestern University for their entrepreneurship resources, as well as Andee Harris, who taught Launching and Leading Startups, for providing so much guidance and feedback throughout my journey.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As a technology consultant, I was asked to manage a project that was delayed for two years and was causing my client’s organization significant financial implications. Taking on the project felt like a recipe for failure, but my team and I took a step back before tackling the problem.

We first met with and interviewed every stakeholder across the key departments that needed to collaborate. Given a large reason for the project delay was a lack of consensus-building, our goal was to truly understand historical context as well as individual incentives and pain points. Surprisingly, we uncovered that each executive leader had a similar end-goal but a different vision to attain it.

We were able to eventually create a solution recommendation and get buy-in in under four months to implement, saving the organization millions of dollars! I was proud of my ability to recognize the challenges and quickly establish trust with stakeholders, that were mostly senior to me, in order to change the culture and leave a lasting impact on the organization.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Kellogg for several reasons: strong leadership training, group-focused and collaborative learning environment, strong human-centered design focus, and social culture. Of all the reasons, the biggest was definitely the learning environment because that was the factor that I found varied the most drastically school-to-school. I wanted to go to business school to become a better product manager and an empathetic manager, but I also wanted to learn about other functions and explore multiple industries.

Having a learning environment where projects are majorly group-based and a lot of classes are experiential, I was constantly exposed to a diverse set of peers’ experiences. This collaborative nature aligned best with how I love to work in professional settings. More importantly, however, this collaborative learning prepared me well for my career because the problems I will be solving are multi-faceted so pulling from a multitude of examples will only enable more innovation.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Reflecting back is such a sad thought – I’m going to miss business school so much but there are so many memories that I cannot wait to keep and share! My favorite event and memory is one that the MMM program hosted. In true design fashion, everyone was assigned a pantone color for their dish to look like for our Thanksgiving potluck. We then arranged all the dishes on a table to create a beautiful rainbow before feasting! The cooking prowess of my classmates and the creativity that people came up with to match their color was so amazing. And, the event wouldn’t be memorable if it weren’t for the great conversation, the many cheers to things we were thankful for, and the friendships that bloomed that night.

The event represents a clear example of how I would describe Kellogg: disruptors. We didn’t just do another Thanksgiving potluck; we added a layer of inspiration and fun! That is why a lot of the other traditions and events at Kellogg stand out to me as well (KWEST, IPGs, Small Group Dinners, Battle of the Bands, among others) – students at Kellogg love to find ways to be different and add a new flavor to everything we do!

What surprised you the most about business school? You learn A LOT about yourself – I was so surprised at the amount of personal growth just 1.5 years of business school has given me. I came into business school with professional goals, and am grateful to have met those, but the personal growth is something I am extremely thankful for! From day one, you start to expose yourself to absolutely kind, smart, and interesting people. This is both a blessing but also a challenge. Imposter syndrome may kick in and you start to doubt a lot of your previously established confidence. You may start to feel FOMO (fear of missing out) as you crave wanting to meet everyone and going to all the activities.

I came into school convinced that I wanted to pursue healthcare but found myself excited by projects in other industries too. All these feelings make you reflect on who you are at your core and what drives your emotions and your priorities. The good news is that you are in a learning environment so you can use those reflections to then take classes or work with your peers to learn how to properly leverage both your strengths and weaknesses! It is crazy to think that in such a short time, you can grow so much. It truly is an accelerated experience, but you deserve that time to reflect and there is no better place than business school.

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 speaking with current students and alumni beyond the surface-level conversation so I felt very confident that Kellogg was where I wanted to go and could lean on their stories when I explained why in my application and interview. It is easier to search a school’s website for clubs, classes, professors, and other important nuggets of information. Don’t get me wrong, that is a great place to start your search. However, there is so much more about a school that you just cannot see on the website. Following club Instagram accounts, reaching out to club leadership, LinkedIn messaging alumni who have a similar interest or mutual connections, and meeting students when I visited campus really gave me an “inside” view into the school so I could give very clear, specific reasons for why I wanted to attend Kellogg.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Isaac Dupree. Isaac is not only one of my closest friends at Kellogg, but also our student body president. I remember when he told me that he was going to run on the slate – I was so excited for him and knew he would do a phenomenal job with his positive attitude, action-driven mindset, and collaborative leadership style. My admiration for him only grew as I watched him navigate leading and inspiring through an unprecedented time with no prior examples of similar situations to lean on. COVID-19 and 2020 both raised so many challenges for Kellogg. Examples include the hurdles behind bringing international students coming to campus due to travel restrictions, planning testing procedures to even allow in-person classes, building and maintaining community-feel, ensuring students feel prepared for and have access to job applications, inspiring allyship, ensuring safe spaces for D&I conversation, and many more. Every day seems to create a new challenge that has no clear right answer. I truly admire Isaac for leading his team and collaborating closely with the administration to ensure Kellogg students are heard, enjoy their experience, and stay safe.

I commend his humility throughout the entire year, open honesty when he didn’t have the answer or disagreed with an approach, and supportive nature as he was always there to listen and provide comfort. It was just simply a tough year, but he didn’t let that challenge scare him and continued to positively impact everyone’s experience in a meaningful way. I’m so lucky to call him a friend, but especially fortunate that he was my president at Kellogg.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? It is definitely different, but I cannot be more thankful to Kellogg and broadly Northwestern for finding a way to make our experience hybrid and safe. For me, the most disruptive part was not the academic piece as professors did a wonderful job adapting and using technology to simulate in-person classes. We also still kept our group-based culture of projects and experiential learning focus. Instead, I felt the most disruption with the community-building that comes with in-person classes. The best part of my first year was running into classmates in the hallway, grabbing coffee with people ad-hoc, getting lunch with someone new every day, and the social events or club events we would have in the afternoon and evenings. It has been hard to replicate the spontaneous nature of in-person socializing. This also translates into clubs, which is a huge part of Kellogg’s culture. As Co-President of Women’s Business Association (WBA), it has been particularly difficult to foster community amongst ~500 female-identifying students. With constant Zoom fatigue, it is difficult to design safe experiences that are inclusive of everyone’s safety preferences while ensuring we don’t segment based on Covid-19 factors.

Despite the constraints, we’ve still been able to successfully host dozens of community-building hybrid events, approximately doubled our “family” program where 2nd years and 1st years come together in small groups, and partnered with 20+ companies for our Careers Uncorked recruiting event. I’m so proud of how Kellogg as a community has adapted to this new normal, but we will still continue to iterate and learn to minimize disruption.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I knew that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree since I was in undergrad because my parents always emphasized the importance of advanced education. I was also inspired from a young age when my father pursued his Executive MBA while both my parents were working full-time and were raising a family. However, my desire to pursue business school specifically became clear after I started my first professional full-time job. I started to see challenges in the working world – everything from cultural mismatch to poor leadership to difficulty with inspiring and managing teams. Dinner table conversations when I visited my parents turned into me sharing stories about what I wish was different or what skills I wish I had.

My father consistently pushed me to look into business school and would pull out his old notes or articles about leadership, management, and sales. Reading them really showed me how excited I was to learn again and how well-aligned business school topics were to what I wanted to be better at. I cannot thank my father enough for being extremely supportive and inspiring me to pursue my advanced degree!

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My top bucket list item is to be known as a wonderful manager and mother by striking a work-life balance that works for those in my life. My second bucket list item is to share my experiences by teaching a class to business school students – graduate or undergraduate – with a hope to inspire them like my professors have for me.

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

“Malvi is well-known across the community amongst faculty, administration, and students given her involvements across Kellogg. She has an incredible ability to build strong, trusting relationships which has  allowed her to be a great team member, friend to many, and a trusting ear across the community; she gathers input often and uses her roles in the community to represent others’ voices to the administration, ensuring actions are taken through close collaboration with others.

She embodies Kellogg’s mantra of “low ego, high impact” and is a strong role model for students with big dreams, landing a top product management job at Google, and developing her own startup.

Malvi’s leadership style is very collaborative and action-driven as seen during her position as co-president of the biggest club on campus, Women’s Business Administration, leading a team of 40+ to shape opportunities and build an inclusive community for 500+ female-identifying members. She launched new community-building and professional development initiatives that have significantly increased engagement in the club. She also encouraged the WBA to proactively create a DE&I pledge in partnership with other affinity clubs which has never been a formalized close collaboration.

Malvi not only inspires me but she inspires others. She cares about not only the future of Kellogg but the world beyond it.”

Andee Harris
Adjunct Lecturer of Innovation & Entrepreneurship




Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.