2021 Best & Brightest MBAs: Ruchi Senthil, IMD Business School

Ruchi Senthil

IMD Business School

“Fiercely loyal, dependable, ambitious career woman and a warm-hearted mother to a naughty 4-year-old.”

Hometown: Chandigarh, India

Fun fact about yourself: I am a closet adrenalin junkie. I had the most unconventional honeymoon full of adventure sports like bungee jumping and glacier hiking

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Armed Forces Medical College, Pune, India; Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S.)

Lokmanya Tilak Medical College, Mumbai, India; Doctor of Medicine (M.D) in Microbiology (Honors)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT), Chennai, India

Where will you be working after graduation? Beckman Coulter Lifesciences, Danaher; General Manager Development Program (GMDP), United Kingdom

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Recipient of the IMD MBA Forté Women Fellowship Scholarship

Graduated with Honors (top 10% of class)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As part of the entrepreneurship stream, my team was tasked with helping a budding entrepreneur figure out a commercial roadmap for her innovation, an injectable nanoparticle infused gel that could fight osteoporosis in the elderly.

Two things make me really proud of this project: my team and my own contributions. In spite of our heavy curriculum, our diverse group of MBAs (a management consultant, an accountant, an engineer, a biologist and me) could still find a way to work with enthusiasm and motivation especially since we were forced to move all discussions in the latter part of the project online due to COVID. As the only medical person on the team, I became the focal point for alliscussions regarding the real needs of the user, the efficacy and feasibility of the product, and the possible market channels to allow access to as many people as possible in the shortest time span. I cherished every moment of it, every moment of discover and  finding out new areas where my skills and knowledge were appreciated.

I was very proud that I could contribute in such a meaningful way.

The start-up went on to win numerous start-up competitions, getting thousands of dollars in seed money and is growing from strength to strength using the business plan and road map we set them up with.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Coming from a family of doctors, I had seen the commitment with which my parents treated each and every patient. The desire to similarly save lives prompted me to become a doctor as well. When I got hired as Consultant Microbiologist at NIRT, a reference laboratory under the World Health Organization (WHO), I found my chance to make a difference in the lives of millions of tuberculosis afflicted individuals living in India.

I underwent intensive training in internal auditing and good clinical practices and then introduced reforms that allowed us to become the first government tuberculosis laboratory in India to get national accreditation. This ensured improved turnaround times and more accurate reports for our patients that would now be valid across the country. This enabled sufferers to have consistent and easy access to treatment even when they moved across state lines, something that was not possible prior to our accreditation. At the same time, our initiative motivated other laboratories to seek the same accreditation- improving the overall standard of care for tuberculosis nationally.

Why did you choose this business school? As someone coming from a medical background, without a single business course to my credit, I wanted to be part of a small but rigorous program and a close-knit cohort that would allow me not only to learn hard and fast but also enable me to discover who I wanted to be in the business world. The leadership stream and personal development elective (PDE) at IMD gave me exactly that: the opportunity to analyze and become introspective of everything I was experiencing, both personally and professionally.

The chance to interact with people from so many different backgrounds with such different points of view made for very engaging and fruitful conversations, be it business, world politics, or discussions on balancing personal and professional careers. Overall, what I learnt throughout the year allowed for a truly wholesome MBA experience that transcended the bounds of a classroom.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? IMD boasts of a plethora of phenomenal academicians whom I had the great fortune of learning from. However, the one professor who made a real impact on me was Professor Jennifer Jordan, our leadership professor.

She is a role model for young professionals. She’s a truly caring, thoughtful person. As the professor of the most important stream in the program, she takes her role very seriously and puts real effort in creating the best curriculum possible. The course she puts together every year is based in real research on organizational behavior. Ultimately, the goal is to inspire crucial discussions for business leaders in the making. What is ethics? What kind of leader are you?

Moreover, even as a new mom, she took her professional commitments in her stride and it was fantastic to watch and learn from her. As a mother myself, seeing her excel re-enforced the validity of my decision to pursue an MBA and motivated me to work harder to achieve my dreams.

What surprised you the most about business school? The one thing that surprised me most about business school was the fact that I learnt as much outside the classroom as I did inside. While the principles of business can be learnt in school, their practical applications are better learnt through experience and that’s where evening conversations over some cheese and wine yielded amazing insights. Coming into the program from a rigorous textbook-based profession like medicine, it was an eye-opener for me to realize that so much business happens outside formal settings and through networking events.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I come from a non-traditional background (medicine). Having had some exposure to the business side of healthcare – through the various roles I held after graduation from clinician to diagnostician to laboratory head – gave me a clear understanding of what I wanted my career trajectory to look like. This clarity of thought, the desire to learn, and the ability to express this succinctly gave me an edge over other applicants. I also spent a lot of time speaking to alumni to understand what IMD looks for in prospective candidates.

Being from an unconventional background ensured that I often had a different way of looking at and analyzing situations, which probably contributed to making the discussions in the classroom more engaging. The extremely experienced admissions team probably knew that this would be a possibility when they decided to move ahead with my candidature and offer me a place in the IMD MBA cohort of 2020.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire the most is Stephanie Hurry. For me, she embodied the most-well-rounded personality in our batch – be it her dedication to her workout regimen, her punctuality coming into class, her well thought out and very insightful questions and comments during class discussions, or the fact that she was always willing to help those struggling in finance (she came from a strong financial background). As a member of the sports committee, she was actively involved in organizing yoga classes that she managed to move online when COVID hit allowing us all to remain somewhat physically active even within the confines of our homes.

How disruptive was it to shift to an online or hybrid environment after COVID hit? While a classroom environment is the best way to derive maximum value in any course, I did not feel that the move to an online mode of teaching was too disruptive. This was in part due to the fact that the curriculum at IMD is designed to be front-loaded. and by the time COVID hit, forcing us to move online, we had already finished a big chunk of the basics in the core subjects which need a more focused teaching experience. Having done the basics face-to-face, building on them remotely was not something I struggled with.

However, outside the academic viewpoint, the lack of human interaction and the lost opportunity to bond with my colleagues not just in IMD but also other MBA schools through excursions and trips took more away from the overall experience for me.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? The one person who influenced me most to pursue an MBA is a senior of mine who was my mentor and guide in medical school. I admired him for his zeal to work for companies that were trying to make a difference in healthcare delivery, and he succeeded in his goal after he pursued an MBA and joined a firm to make meaningful contributions to improving access to healthcare across the world.

He understood that I too wanted to make an impact on a larger scale, something that is hard to accomplish as a pure clinician where you make a difference to the lives of only those patients that you treat. He convinced me that one way to achieve my goal was to get some formal business training. Given my expertise in laboratory medicine, I could act as a bridge between clinicians and med-tech companies to devise better diagnostic equipment which would improve patient outcomes globally. Similar inputs from other friends and family prompted me to apply to IMD and I am glad I took a leap of faith and did just that.

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

The first item on my professional bucket list would be to be featured in the list of Top 25 Women Leaders in Medical Devices. Being able to shape the future of healthcare and patient health through innovations in medical devices would be an absolute dream come true. It would also give me an opportunity to give back to my community, motivating me to master my skills to a point where I can transfer my knowledge with confidence and gain the right credentials and experience to mentor entry level professionals in my field.

Another bucket list item is a desire to be invited to join the board of a local, healthcare-based non-profit or charity. The ability to use my talents and resources to benefit others would be a key component in my definition of a successful career and I would strive to advance far enough in my profession to build the network and the capability to make that a possibility.

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

“With 8 years’ experience as a doctor and healthcare professional working with cross-functional teams to incorporate innovative technology in the healthcare industry and improve patient health, Ruchi is a hard-working, focused, proud mother with a strong sense of adventure. Graduating with honors she has a strong sense of community and will no doubt be an inspiration to the next generation of women leaders.

We wish her all the best for the next chapter in her life.”

The MBA Team




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