“Renewable energy entrepreneur passionate about building advanced lithium battery technology in India.”
Hometown: Mumbai, Maharashtra
Fun Fact About Yourself: When I crave chai and coffee both, I mix them up to make my own choffee!
Undergraduate School and Major: BITS Pilani, BE in Mechanical Engineering.
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Patel Auto Engg Co, Director
Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of IIM Ahmedabad’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Undoubtably, it is the case-based pedagogy.
At the core of the PGPX learning experience is IIM Ahmedabad’s case-based pedagogy, which has been the key part of me choosing IIMA. This approach involves a rich mix of classic and contemporary business cases from India and around the world. Group discussions simulate real world situations and augment one’s thought process to recognize nuances of organizational dynamics, build a 30,000 feet perspective of the business landscape, and provide insights into various industries. Professors and peers take the class discussions of these cases up a notch by indulging in role plays and games to experience practical application of the business concepts, enabling students to develop decision-making skills under uncertainty.
The case method of learning was most appealing to me on multiple fronts. Given my aspirations of growing and scaling my family enterprise, I find tremendous synergy in applying learnings to develop a global perspective and drive growth in my organization. Learning how businesses have faced challenges and evolved through testing times is invaluable in navigating and adapting to the new normal.
What has been your favorite course or extracurricular activity at IIM Ahmedabad? What has been the most important lesson that you have learned from it? Rather than any course or activity, let me share my favorite part of every course at IIM Ahmedabad’s PGPX program: the syndicate (study group) discussions. IIM Ahmedabad makes a great effort in handpicking a diverse set of ten talented and highly-accomplished professionals ranging from charted accountants to army service members to engineers and business leaders. Everyone brings unique valuable insights drawing from their work experience that enables 360-degree thinking. It is common to find fresh perspectives that directly connect academics and industry in these daily discussions and I’ve lost count of the “WOW” moments.
In such a vibrant cohort of achievers, it is very easy to succumb to the rat race trap and feed thoughts that dampen mental poise. I’ve learned to acknowledge that everyone is on their own individual journey. Every day presents several opportunities to grow, and an attitude of gratitude is a pre-requisite to make the most of them. Learning will take place through reflection and not by validation.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: As part of diversification of my business, I co-led a due diligence to identify, evaluate, and shortlist 300+ renewable energy firms globally. My team and I interviewed 50+ industry professionals and attended over 10 national and international exhibitions. These efforts culminated in an Exclusive India Partnership with OneCharge Inc. (USA) earlier this year. The OneCharge partnership holds tremendous promise since it involves JV formation in 2021 and a goals-based technology transfer agreement that would enable us to manufacture our very own ‘Made In India’ lithium batteries by 2022. I am building a dynamic engineering team who can collaborate with our international partners to customize the product for the Indian market.
Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: I’ve felt overwhelmed at times between finding balance between studies, coping up with the new normal, keeping pace with the PGPX rigor, and managing relationships (nurturing new ones and staying connected with family and friends). Achieving the right balance between academics, networking, running initiatives, and managing physical and mental health has been an ongoing challenge.
Being steady in a situation that has constantly pushed me out of my comfort zone has certainly made me more resilient. Every day, multiple decisions need to be made on the fly and the PGPX course structure has pushed me to learn the art of optimizing decisions and managing trade-offs. Wise words from the Director of IIM Ahmedabad, Professor Errol D’Souza at the PGPX inaugural speech come to mind: “People should take ownership of the decisions that they make. It’s only when you’re vested in facing the consequences of the decisions you make that you have the right to make it.”
PGPX challenges one to the face the fear of unknown and prepares the participants to cope with failure. This has made me find the best version of myself day in and day out. Overall, on a personal and professional front, I see accelerated transformation in myself and I find myself better equipped to navigate through challenges enabling me to add value to my business.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? When I had firs-hand experience with the transformation in colleagues and peers after their MBA, I realized the value of a globally recognized MBA. While my decision to pursue an MBA has been an evolutionary process, I have realized that now was the right time. It dawned upon me that my entrepreneurial experiences have augmented my functional knowledge around small-scale operations and marketing. Despite this, I still needrf to hone my skills related to large-scale, capital-intensive operations management and organizational behavior. To learn how to grow and scale businesses is a top priority for me. Business school was the natural next step for me to better understand how to tackle these challenges and optimize opportunities.
After the MBA, my focus will be diversifying and scaling my 3rd generation family business. Since November of 2019, my brother and I have focused significantly on diversifying the family business through exploration of new growth opportunities that reflect our passion for the environment and our desire to build a US$100M business by 2030. Words of the PGPX Chairperson Professor Viswanath Pingali are fresh in memory: “Let IIM Ahmedabad not be the biggest achievement in your life.” I am sure this sentiment will keep me motivated to pursue my dreams.
What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM Ahmedabad? IIM Ahmedabad’s PGPX program is rightly called a buffet because it presents a plethora of opportunities. Clarity of goals is important to choose wisely from this pool of opportunities. Making informed decisions is as much about what to choose as much as what not to choose. Owing to the rigor of PGPX course structure, time is a scanty resource, so clarity in thought and priorities will be rewarding.
On a more granular level, make a storyboard of career progression and the direction you would like to take in the future. This will be invaluable while writing essays and presenting your story in the best possible way. Think of the MBA as an investment in yourself.
Finally, be transparent. The admissions committee will appreciate honesty and transparency.