Meet The MBA Class Of 2021: Harita Byluppala, IMD Business School

Harita Byluppala

IMD Business School

“Ever curious, adventure seeking poetry lover who wants to use technology to make this world equitable.”

Hometown: Hyderabad, India. I have been living in Switzerland for the past 5 years

Fun Fact About Yourself: I adopted a baby elephant 4 years ago in Kenya and she is now getting ready to integrate into the wild. I feel like a proud yet nervous parent – as if I am sending my baby to school.

Undergraduate School and Major: S.V University, India

Graduate School and Major: Oklahoma State University, USA; Chemical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Nestlé R&D, Digital Manufacturing Engineer, Switzerland

IMD classes have been dubbed the “Mighty 90” for their talent and versatility. What has been the best part of being in a small class with this group of classmates? Being in such a small class has given me the experience of diverse thinking, as well as a chance to form real friendships and an opportunity to interact with everyone. It is an intense year of learning. With this small class, I have never felt alone but rather that I am on a journey we are all taking together. There is camaraderie in the class and the small size allows us to be there for one another.

Aside from classmates, what part of IMD’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I chose IMD for two reasons: the small class and the Leadership Stream. Through chats with alumni, “open days”, and my research, I came to know of IMD`s holistic approach to developing tomorrow`s leaders. Having worked in large matrix organizations at various levels, I quickly came to realize the impact a leader has on driving change. We see this happening around us in this rapidly-changing world. I want to learn to be a well-balanced and well-informed leader and I chose IMD to help me in this journey.

With leadership classes, a personalized coach, a psychoanalyst and continuous feedback, I am growing day by day in self-awareness and self-confidence.

What has been favorite tradition or event at IMD? There is a lot that goes on in the dungeons, our study rooms in the basement of IMD. I thoroughly enjoy them. I wish I could tell you, but what happens in the dungeons stays in the dungeons!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Digital Transformation and Industry 4.0 are some of the most used buzz words in the recent years. As a digital manufacturing engineer at Nestlé, an organization with around 400 factories, I was able to separate the buzz from these words and bring real value to the organization. While we were figuring out how to digitize our factories across the world and where to start, I formulated a project with a bottom up approach of grass root transformation at the shop floor level. I laid out a road map to bring factories at various automation levels to a digital standard and led the execution. This project not only saved several million in costs, but also helped establish a business case for digitalization. Having moved the needle on digital transformation in the largest F&B company in the world made me feel good.

Describe your biggest accomplishment at IMD so far: As part of a week-long innovation challenge, we took a large logistic conglomerate and looked at how an SDG goal can be a viable business case. As a team of five – a lawyer, trader, analyst, an entrepreneur, and an engineer – we delved deep in the conglomerate`s business, found related SDG goals, and looked at their current work in sustainability and future opportunities. In a week, we came up with an innovative idea for the corporate to help SMEs in West Africa while serving its business purpose. Our project was selected as one of the top and we are looking to pitch this to the corporation. In a week, we not only understood the complexities of incorporating sustainability in core business, but also used the intense group work to learn about power and influence in a high performing team in a practical manner. This was a great learning experience for me.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? This is a golden period for engineers. Be it in data, sustainability, space, energy, mechanical, or chemical, engineering is heavily driving innovation and successful businesses. While I enjoy doing the technical stuff, I noticed value was lost in translation from the commercial side to the technical or vice versa. I realized that if I really wanted to make an impact, I needed to know both sides of business. I want to bring the technical and commercial sides closer to drive innovation and generate maximum value for consumers. I am committed to taking up a path that has not seen many women succeed within it and aim to normalize it. Women belong to the C-suite and that is what I am working towards with help of IMD.

What has been your best memory at IMD thus far? I have so many! The program is halfway through, and I already feel nostalgic. There is this one moment last month when Professor Tawfik Jelassi, who is now leaving IMD to join UNESCO as Assistant general director, spent his last class at IMD with us. Through his story of serving as Minister of Higher Education in Tunisia while the government was in transition, he showed us what the journey of a leader looks like and how to lead VUCA situations with resilience. He asked us what we would do in those situations. I remember sitting in that class, listening to the professor and my classmates and at one moment, I realized that many of us in that class would potentially become such impactful leaders dealing with such complex situations. I felt inspired and grateful.


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