Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Minnie Lahoti, University of Virginia (Darden)

Minnie Lahoti

University of Virginia, Darden School of Business

I am an extroverted engineer who loves to dance, teach organic chemistry, and promote DEI!”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I compete in West Coast Swing style dancing.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Alabama – B.S. Chemical Engineering, University of Houston – M.S. Chemical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Inveniam Research Inc. – Data Scientist

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? “So what do you think?” – The case method forces you to think actively, which results in a higher retention of knowledge in my experience. The case method is not just about learning from your professor, but gaining perspectives from your peers who come from diverse backgrounds. The Darden MBA prepares you well to become a better manager because you gain and retain the interpersonal communication skills and the technical skills through the case study method.

What word best describes the Darden MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far and why? Humble. Every student or alumni whom I have met so far has treated me with respect and provided invaluable insights into the Darden MBA. The Darden community is very strong, and it has certainly held up to the hype.

Aside from cases and classmates, what was the key part of Virginia Darden’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Darden gives every incoming student a scholarship for a global immersion program. Learning how different companies and industries operate in other countries is a holistic part of the MBA process. Through Darden’s generous scholarship fund, Darden is promoting equity amongst students because it allows every student to experience the program.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Virginia Darden? I am looking forward to taking Portfolio and Wealth Management class in my 2nd year. Since I don’t have a finance background, I want to learn the necessary skills needed to manage my income post-MBA and build generational wealth. Professor Rich Evans is very popular amongst students and Darden alums for providing great resources on how to manage your assets. I am also looking forward to “First Coffee” every day. where 1st-year and 2nd-year students can build great relationships while enjoying a cup of coffee after the first morning class.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: One of my biggest accomplishments in my career was increasing the number of female employees at my first workplace by 100%. That’s right, 100%. Considering I was the only female engineer in my division in a building of almost 200 male workers, I figured it wouldn’t be a hard task. Boy, was I wrong. Prior to me, the division had struggled to hire other female engineers due to a lack of attention and processes centered around diversity and inclusion. After my first year of employment, I took the initiative and advocated for a female intern for the summer. I became her mentor and helped her navigate a male-dominated field of the automotive industry. It was exciting to see my efforts come to fruition when she joined our team full time after her internship!

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 was really challenging for me personally and professionally. I lost my Chachu (my dad’s younger brother) who was no less than a father to me and I was unable to go home back to India to see my parents because of travel restrictions. I was also laid off from work at the end of March 2020. My “perfect” plan to stay in consulting until I applied to business school was completely derailed. With no job prospects or income, I knew I had to utilize this time as efficiently as possible. My time during the pandemic helped me narrow down the industries I wanted to work in post-pandemic. Data analytics skills were in even higher demand, and I decided to focus on that.

I taught myself how to code in Python and took some data analytics courses for three months. After some extensive networking, I was able to find an internship as a data scientist. Once my internship ended, I decided to launch my own tutoring business online to help students struggling with academics during COVID. It was a crazy busy time, but I loved starting my own business and helping these students. I can honestly say that 2020 was by far the most challenging year of my life. However, I made it through and was able to get my life back on track. Going through these experiences really put things in perspective. My family, mental health, and a healthy work environment are at the top of my priority list now. As I head to Darden, I am grateful 2020 is behind me and I am excited to start this new phase of my life.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I have had the opportunity to work in several different fields such as engineering, consulting, data science, and education. Through those experiences, I realized how much I love to learn different functions of a business and that I want to dive deeper and develop a holistic understanding of how to run a company at an executive level. Further, the ownership that comes with end-to-end project management truly fuels my desire to focus on continuous improvement and gain relevant soft and technical skills. After my MBA, I hope to work in a general management or program management role.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? McCombs, Rice Jones, and Haas

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Virginia Darden’s MBA program? I have three pieces of advice:

1) Start building relationships with current students and admission team members through coffee chats and other school events that happen throughout the admission process. Culture fit will become very important when you are deciding on which school to attend. Create a spreadsheet where you can keep a track of people you’ve talked with and note down the important discussion points. You will very quickly start mixing up information otherwise.

2) When applying to Darden or any other business school, be intentional with the questions you ask current students. If you reach out to someone on LinkedIn for help, ask pointed questions instead of asking if they can “help you on your MBA journey”. That way you get more value for your and their time.

3) Be your authentic self! You will quickly learn how much Darden values your honesty and authenticity. You want your essays to truly reflect who you are as a person and as a leader. Take those admission tests ASAP and focus on self-reflective essays. Don’t worry about what others might write, just focus on your own story.




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