2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Suhani Jalota, Stanford GSB

Suhani Jalota

Stanford Graduate School of Business

 (Plus a dual degree with PhD at Stanford School of Medicine)

“I am a Social Entrepreneur and an Economist building the future of work and health for women in India.”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun fact about yourself: I received the Queen’s Young Leader Award from Queen Elizabeth II in Buckingham Palace. She and I spoke about the need for slum governance on Facebook Live.

Lighter one: I have done rigorous research to understand the effect of Indian TV soap operas on women empowerment. I have read 9 books about it already and want to write my own book about its effect on adolescent girls in India today.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Duke University, Bachelors of Science in Economics and Global Health

PhD Candidate in Health Policy and Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? CEO and Founder, Myna Mahila Foundation (social enterprise based in urban slums in India)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Botha Chan Entrepreneurship Fellow – to work on my startup, Rani Jobs, incubated at Myna Mahila in Mumbai

Where will you be working after graduation? Continuing my PhD at Stanford University, and continuing to work on Rani Jobs and Myna Mahila

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Knight Hennessy Scholar, Stanford Venture Studio, Knight Hennessy Scholar Advisory Board

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During business school, my team and I were nominated as Finalists for the Cisco’s Global Citizen Prize in my first year. While we didn’t win, it was one of the moments in my life when I felt so close to my friends, colleagues, family, and our global base of supporters who truly wanted Myna Mahila to succeed in uplifting women in India. The competition had public voting (the best time to be in business school!), and we received more than 100k votes for it from India and all over the world! Our team was working so hard – we had even made it to Twitter’s top hashtag in India for seven hours with our momentum. We had people who had never heard of our work before reach out to me in support along with their own communities. It was like a domino effect with so many networks coming together to make us realize how loved and supported we were in our mission. The outcome almost didn’t matter, since we’d won the process as is.

Another such time came during April 2021 when India’s second wave of COVID was wiping out entire families, and it was like a pandemic scene never seen before on the ground. My fellow GSBers came together to support one another and support in all the ways they could – from helping with fundraising, providing medical guidance, and so much more. Times like these make the hard work, passion, and tough days all so worth it!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? That I had the guts to stand up for myself and start something at 19 for the girls in Mumbai’s slums without fear or doubt. I founded Myna Mahila along with slum community leaders, and fought the many obstacles that came my way. I’m most proud that I could keep my vision in sight and did everything I could to make it possible along with my amazing team in Mumbai.

Why did you choose this business school? For a social entrepreneur with limited traditional industry experience and a hunger to learn more about how technology could be leveraged for social impact, Stanford GSB was a natural choice. I was running my social enterprise in India, Myna Mahila, and then came to Stanford for my PhD in Health Policy and Economics in 2018. I am a part of the Knight Hennessy Scholars program at Stanford, where I met some MBA students and loved to hear their stories. It seemed like a really diverse group of people with audacious ambitions in life – something I related to. And I loved that passion and real world application focus! Coming from the nonprofit world, I wanted to learn more about the business mindset from today’s technology leaders – how leaders think about making money, and feel comfortable with it. For me, having an ambition different from creating social impact for others was not instinctive, but it seemed important to be in powerful positions to influence large scale social impact. Stanford was the perfect combination of social entrepreneurship and large scale technology influence.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Baba Shiv – he is just so real and so aware of himself, and wants to help his students manage themselves better. I loved the idea of calling his class a “retreat” instead and having fun instead of stressing about the class.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I love the View from The Top series that GSB hosts that creates a legacy for the class and school.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would probably learn more about my MBA classmates across a variety of disciplines. Over time, groups get more siloed and it’s not really easy to meet people with very different experiences. (And since I was part of the COVID class, I would have opted for in-person classes instead of our entire first year classes being on Zoom!)

What surprised you the most about business school? People can really care for each other and support one another when in need. Even though the class has such different backgrounds and experiences, we are unified in our understanding that no matter what, we’ll stay as one. People I meet through GSB connections are so eager to help.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I knew GSB would be a great fit for my particular interests, so I emphasized those in my application. I spoke to many GSB students about what the school really stands for to see if it really aligned with my next step in life. When I found a match, I decided to apply with certainty that this would be an incredible experience waiting.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Can’t pick one here, sorry! There are so many!!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? One of my mentors who is on Myna Mahila’s board of directors convinced me that business school would be excellent for me. I would present strategies to him without using the biz language that could actually give me a leg up and help the strategies be more universally understood. He had a business degree and he was able to add frameworks to my ideas in ways that I wanted to be able to do myself.

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

  • Create a company that can provide employment to 1 million women
  • Be one of TIME’s 100 most influential people in the world, representing India

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? It’s made me think that I can more easily and seamlessly manage moving between India and the US than I had thought possible. This is great because most of my real work happens on the ground in India, but I can strategize, plan, and raise funds back in the US. Being able to maintain this duality, especially when I have to raise a family, puts me much more at ease!

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

“I write this on behalf of my student Suhani Jalota, who embodies in so many ways the “Best and Brightest MBA’s” title. Many people talk about making an impact in the world. We all hope that their lofty aspirations to do just this come true. Suhani Jalota wants this as well for her future, but what sets her apart is that she already has made a significant impact in the world around us. Through her work in the Myna Mahila Foundation, which aims to provide health services to 2 million women and job opportunities for 1 million by 2025, Suhani has already shown what she can do. It is exciting to me to think about what comes next. I am honored to help amplify Suhani’s mission, though I have to admit it is not a hard thing to do. Don’t we always want to help those that help others? Suhani is the perfect embodiment of this ideal, and extraordinarily deserving of this honor.

I first spent meaningful time with Suhani when she came to spend time with me during my office hours for HRMGT 384, which I co-teach with Huggy Rao and Prasad Setty. I’ve found that during my personal and professional life that those that you want to help the most are those that already helping others. At the end of our time together, I was compelled to do just that for Suhani. Where could I connect her? In what small way could I help magnify and accelerate her efforts? I got to work doing just that. What was interesting to me about Suhani was that she didn’t spend our initial time together on what she had already accomplished but rather on what she wanted to do next. Building on the impact she had already made, she presented new ideas of how she could bring the global economy to her local community in the urban slums of Mumbai. I found her idea compelling and inspiring at the same time.”

Michael P Ross
Stanford Graduate School of Business


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