2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Karan Modi, Wisconsin School of Business

Karan Modi

University of Wisconsin – Madison (Wisconsin School of Business)

“Compassionate and innovative leader, dedicated to life-long learning while striving to make a difference.”

Hometown: Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Fun fact about yourself: I am a four-time published researcher who is enthusiastic about adventure sports, traveling, and road trips. I love to explore new places and different cuisines. I am an ardent Real Madrid fan #HalaMadrid

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech.) in Civil Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi

Master of Technology (M.Tech.) in Structural Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology (BHU) Varanasi

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Aspect Ratio (a management consulting firm) – Senior Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Prudential Financial (Remote)

Where will you be working after graduation? Prudential Financial as a Senior Specialist, Business Systems Analyst

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Leadership Roles: 2021 Vice President, Graduate Business Association; 2021 Vice President, Healthcare Interest Club; Wisconsin MBA Ambassador
  • Awards and Honors: Winner of Net Impact Case Competition (WSB); Winner of the Best Poster Award at the Transcend Innovation Challenge; Co-Finalists in the Exact Sciences’ Consulting Practicum (WSB); Winner of 2021 UW-Madison Intramural Table Tennis Tournament; Recipient of the Wisconsin School of Business Alumni Fellowship
  • Active Mentorship: Member of the International Mentorship Program, Women in Business Professional Mentorship Program for undergraduate, Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management mentorship program
  • Community Work: Member of the Business Badger Giving Back, Core Team Member of PanIIT USA organization, LGBTQ+ ally

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? While it is tough to select one, I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish during my tenure as Vice President of the Graduate Business Association. One of the most important aspects of my role was working with the leadership board of nearly two dozen student organizations and catering to over 200 MBA and master’s students. Fostering an inclusive environment was crucial to me. One of my goals was to increase the participation of master’s students in the student organizations and have them feel included in the Badger business community. This goal was successfully accomplished. These leaders built long-lasting relationships with each other and organized invaluable co-sponsored events that highlighted the intersectionality between many of their identities and interest areas of our students. My team and I ensured all the student organizations had the resources they needed to host their events. We successfully hosted over 30 in-person and virtual events throughout the year while navigating the uncertainties of the pandemic.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of successfully completing my MBA summer internship and receiving a full-time offer. Just a few days before starting my internship, I learned that my father was in a life-threatening state due to the Covid-19 pandemic in India. I had to rush back home, despite uncertain travel restrictions, and went through an ordeal nobody should have to face – watching my father succumb. This gave me a first-hand experience of the ill-preparedness of the healthcare industry and reinforced my belief that the solution to the affordability of adequate healthcare lies somewhere else. This propelled me to pivot my career towards the financial services industry. My MBA internship with Prudential Financial was a perfect opportunity. This past summer presented me with many challenges: I had a steep learning curve as I was entering a new industry, I had to come to terms with my personal loss while trying to support my family, and I had to overcome challenges related to time zone differences and unreliable internet connectivity. Through all of this, I led my internship team to win a business case challenge for suggesting innovative solutions to tackle one of the prominent problems faced by the company.

Why did you choose this business school? As an international student with a poverty-stricken financial background, ROI was one of the most important factors in my decision for a business school. The Wisconsin MBA offers one of the best ROIs in the world, ensuring that its graduates complete the program with a strong foundation for financial success. Additionally, as I continue to grow professionally and personally, I am committed to continuing to give back to the community and making our society better for all. I love how the school is committed to reinforcing its motto “Together Forward” in day-to-day activities that I can participate in and encourage others to join. With my MBA journey coming to an end, I can undoubtedly state that attending the Wisconsin School of Business was the best decision I ever made.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Hart E. Posen, who teaches Business Strategy, is my favorite MBA professor. Business Strategy is a vital course in the life of an MBA student. This course equipped me with the tools and processes needed to develop a strategic mindset, and Professor Hart made this class most memorable. He uses the Socratic method of teaching, where he teaches theory that is applicable in the real world while engaging the entire class. His class changed my mindset to think holistically about problems and the associated symptoms, which often challenge people. I was able to directly apply the learnings from the course during my internship and various case competitions. I found that I retained a great deal of information while enjoying the class.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth is that most of the students are from the Midwest and the opportunities are primarily in the Midwest. So many people had told me that location should be an important factor in selecting a business school. When I arrived in Wisconsin, I was blown away by my peers’ diverse backgrounds – professionally, culturally, and geographically. These students (from coast-to-coast and worldwide) with diverse experiences (from arts to consulting) make this program special. Post-graduation, business badgers travel across the US and the globe to work in a wide array of industries.

What surprised you the most about business school? The significance of relationships, networking, and soft skills has surprised me the most. With my engineering mindset, I used to think that people go to school to develop hard or technical skills. I realized that apart from learning these skills, it’s important to build on your professional network and improve your soft skills. I learned that the ability to develop a network of people with whom to connect and learn along the way is the key to success in business. Realizing the importance of developing interpersonal skills, I focused on creating a tight-knit community and strong relationships. I am grateful to confess that I have made such incredible bonds with my friends that I had no clue they would become my family away from home.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I gave myself sufficient time to perform self-reflection and analysis on my profile, why I wanted to return to school, and what my career goals were. I conducted school-fit research to find the best school that suited both my professional and personal needs. My process helped me describe a compelling and convincing narrative during my application process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I love all my MBA classmates! Everyone is so unique and talented, and I have grown a lot with everyone during my two years here at WSB. If I have to choose one, I would select my classmate and a dear friend, Jorge Tefel. I met Jorge on my first day in the program, and he has a fantastic ability to make everyone feel comfortable being themselves. He is humble, inspiring, creative, and goes out of his way to help his classmates with any problem. His amicable nature makes it easy for everyone to approach him, and I can count on him whenever I need anything. He challenged me every time to be a better version of myself. Jorge and I were on the same team for various projects throughout the MBA experience. Through working with him, I noticed that he has a unique charisma when presenting that is contagious. Having Jorge as part of my team gave me the confidence to present my ideas in a more engaging manner. I think he is a great person and an awesome friend who will achieve greatness in his life.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? While I studied Civil Engineering in my undergraduate degree and Structural Engineering in my first master’s degree, it was through my experiences at Aspect Ratio (a management consulting firm, Merck Pharmaceutical’s CoE for analytics and forecasting) that I realized business was a way for me to make an impact on society. To that end, I would say that Shivram Apte, CEO of Aspect Ratio, helped me realize that business was suitable for me. As an analyst in the company, he empowered my managers to challenge me to do more than I thought I was ready for and allowed me to take full ownership of projects in the company. I received Merck Pharmaceutical’s Award of Excellence for four consecutive years during my tenure at Aspect Ratio. Shivram is an excellent promoter of education, and he always encourages people to learn something new every day. When he saw that I was ready to take my career to the next level, he encouraged me to apply to business school and take a leap of faith during the COVID pandemic.

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

  1. I want to build simplified solutions to educate people in the United States and across the world about financial planning. Financial illiteracy is a significant problem and a major factor in the cycle of poverty and the increasing wealth gap.
  2. As I progress in my career, I would love to serve as a mentor and a sponsor to aspiring young professionals – especially those from economically disadvantaged backgrounds as I am. It’s difficult and rare to see yourself represented in upper management roles, so being able to give back and mentor up-and-coming company leaders is vital to me.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The tragedy and the stories of resilience during the pandemic have impacted me personally. My understanding of a career shifted from the narrow scope of being on a solo journey to a broader understanding that my career path is intertwined with our collective journey—all of us as a community. My career is not just about my personal advancement, but also about how my professional development is connected to and contributes to making the world truly a better place. The pandemic has taught me that nothing is constant or goes as planned. Life is about being resilient, being focused on the larger picture, and not letting setbacks discourage you. To this end, I am looking forward to utilizing the lessons learned on being flexible to achieve my goals. This belief will help me be successful in the financial services industry and contribute to reducing intra-generational and inter-generational inequities.

What made Karan such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Karan Modi has been an outstanding member of the Wisconsin FT MBA, Class of 2022. From the time he arrived to campus, as part of our New Admit student weekend, Karan demonstrated an innate curiosity and enthusiasm to embrace his MBA studies and contributions to the MBA program.

Leadership – Karan served as the Vice President of the Graduate Business Association with 200+ student membership and Vice President of the Healthcare Interest Club over two semesters. During his tenure, he oversaw 18 Graduate Student Organizations for Full-Time MBA and Master’s Students and helped organize 30+ events over two semesters to deepen community involvement in the MBA and Master’s graduate program. He led his team to win multiple case competitions during his one and a half years here at Wisconsin School of Business. He was a part of the team that won the Net Impact Case Competitions for his innovative way of solving ecological issues from the business perspective to make campus more sustainable. He used his creative and problem-solving skills to win the Best Poster Award at the Transcend Innovation Challenge. His team was also the co-finalists in the Exact Sciences’ Consulting Practicum in 2021. During his internship with Prudential Financial in the summer of 2021, his team won the business case challenge for suggesting innovative ways to tackle one of the prominent problems faced by the company.

Commitment and Resilience – Karan was chosen for a summer 2021 internship with Prudential Financial. Just a few days before his internship started Karan learned that his father was in a critical state due to the Covid-19 pandemic in India. Karan had to rush back home, despite uncertain travel restrictions, and went through an ordeal none of us should have to face – watching his father succumb. It was his amazing resilience that saw him get back up to his feet and perform remarkably to secure a full-time job offer with Prudential upon graduation in May 2022. I have no doubt that Karan will remain engaged and committed to the Wisconsin School of Business through the Wisconsin School of Business Alumni Association and as a future mentor to Business Badger students.

Mentorship – Karan has been a great mentor and supporter to his MBA colleagues and undergraduate students, guiding them to navigate career opportunities for internships and full-time roles. Karan was a part of the various mentorship program at the Wisconsin School of Business. He is a part of the International Mentorship Program to help International Students navigate the curriculum of the MBA program and create an inclusive environment for international students to voice their opinions and learn about the US culture. He is a member of the Women in Business Professional Mentorship Program, where he mentored undergraduate women who wanted to pursue a career in business and leadership roles. He is a part of the Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management mentorship program, where he mentored incoming and 1st year MBA students in diverse areas.

Engagement – Karan has gone above and beyond both in the classroom and outside of the classroom at the Wisconsin School of Business. He is a proud ambassador of the Full-Time MBA program for the school, where he helped recruit prospective students into the program. Karan was a frequent contributor to the WSB MBA podcast series. He shared his MBA experiences on the career management team, case competitions, etc. He is a dedicated LGBTQ+ ally, where he helped promote awareness on various issues faced by LGBTQ+ people in society and helped create a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTQ+ people in the School of Business. Karan assisted and organized various events within his specialization (Operations and Technology Management) to increase camaraderie between 1st years and 2nd years. Apart from business school, Karan also participated in sports activities at the university level. He was the winner of the 2021 Intramural Table Tennis Tournament.

Volunteering – Karan is passionate about giving back to the community. As an enthusiastic member of Business Badger Giving Back, he participated in cleaning a local Madison homeless shelter to ensure a safe, humane and sanitary environment for those less fortunate. He has also devoted many weekends to packing food and delivering it to the homeless which has earned him a lot of gratitude. Karan continues to maintain deep relationships with his alma mater which was demonstrated in his extensive volunteering for the PanIIT events in the US. These examples convinced me that Karan is a compassionate and caring human being who will continue to strive to make society better.

Academic Achievement – Karan was awarded the Wisconsin School of Business Alumni Fellowship for his excellent past academic records and professional achievements. Karan has maintained a 3.87 cumulative GPA while being extremely involved in leadership development opportunities and extracurricular activities. He was a Teaching Assistant (TA) for the Marketing Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management in  Digital Age coursework for graduate and undergraduate students and is a current Teaching Assistant (TA) for Operations Management coursework for undergraduate students, where he conducts discussion sections, assists in grading assignments and exams, and hold office hours to help students with class problems. He also secured his Six Sigma Yellow Belt certification to solidify his learning from the coursework.

Appreciative – Comment by fellow classmate Jorge Tefel: “Karan is the most selfless person I have met in my MBA program. He is ALWAYS available to help his classmates out with any questions/concerns and is continuously raising the bar on what it means to be a thoughtful and caring leader. He is a relentless human who strives for excellence 100% of the time. Karan is an inspiring person and makes me want to be a better person”. His willingness to go above and beyond outside of the classroom is what defines Karan and why his classmates respect and appreciate his contributions.”

Steven Boeder
Director
Erdman Center for Operations and Technology Management
Wisconsin School of Business

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