Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Ishani Singal, University of Washington (Foster)

Ishani Singal

University of Washington, Foster School of Business

“I’m a hard-working and persistent engineer committed to making a difference in people’s lives.”

Hometown: Panchkula, Haryana, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: In 2008 I got the opportunity to represent India in the World Mind Sports Games, an extension to the Olympics, in Beijing. Over these fifteen days, I struggled my way to the Olympic Village due to the language barrier, befriended new people, traveled to new places, won and lost, and learned about a new culture. In the end, I learned to be a more confident and independent individual at a very early age.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Undergrad School – Manipal University, Manipal – Civil Engineering

Graduate School – University of California, Los Angeles, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Magnusson Klemencic Associates, Structural Engineer II

What makes Seattle such a great place to earn an MBA? Seattle being the cloud hub provides great opportunities in the tech field post MBA. These companies bring with them a very cosmopolitan outlook to the city. Also, the proximity to nature provides you with great hiking opportunities and other outdoor experiences.

Aside from your location and classmates, what was the key part of Washington Foster’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? It was the ease of getting placed in the tech field because of the school’s proximity to the big tech companies like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google was a major attraction while deciding on Foster. In addition, I appreciated the program’s high ROI, especially with the low cost of attendance which is further lowered by the generosity of the school while giving scholarships.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Washington Foster? I’m most excited to participate in the various initiatives around diversity and inclusion at the Foster School of Business under the guidance of Christina Fong, the Associate Dean for Inclusion and Diversity.

In the past I was able to attend the Inclusive Product Management summit hosted by Professor Jeff Shulman. During the session we got the opportunity to hear directly from people striving to make a change in this area in companies like Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Salesforce and so on. This gave us a practical understanding of how and why we need to be inclusive as product managers.

Attending such events would help me open doors to building relationships with like-minded people in the industry and hence bringing the much-needed change around us.

Washington Foster operates off a philosophy of We>Me. Give us an example of how you’ve incorporated that approach in your career? During the pandemic, my company was forced to fire 25% of the staff to make the ends meet. As the economy began to recover, three of my projects went under hard deadlines providing my team with one-third of the time needed to finish the task required due to the shortage of manpower. Further, the situation was exacerbated as one of my colleagues had to fly to India overnight as he found out that his father was in intensive care unit due to COVID. Having lost my father at a young age, I knew the pain and uncertainty my colleague was going through. I decided to support my team and colleague the best way I could. I worked 80 hours a week sometimes to help relieve the pressure on my team and conducted regular check ins with my colleague to ensure his stable mind state.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest career achievement so far has been to design a 53-story residential building in Seattle. This building had its unique challenges as it falls in the high seismic zone. What makes it so remarkable is the fact that I was tasked with designing the foundation for this building during the COVID pandemic while I had no previous foundation design experience. I took this opportunity to conduct various Zoom calls with foundation specialists at my company and learn from them.

Using the knowledge I gained from them, I was not only able to design the building, but also set up automation tools within the company for future engineers looking to design foundations.

How did COVID-19 change your perspective on your career and your life in general? When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the world, like several other sectors, the construction industry was also severely impacted. I saw several of my close friends and colleagues lose their jobs, and this taught me to deal with uncertainty in career and life. I first-hand witnessed the struggles of immigrants and minority sector when losing their jobs and tried to bring awareness about this in my company by co-leading the Diversity and Inclusion team and working on refreshing the company’s value statement to be more inclusive.

Financial and career effects aside, the pandemic shook life as we know. It was distressing to not able to visit a family member or friend when they might need help. I was particularly empathetic towards people who were living alone detached from the rest of the world and decided to call one such friend every day to keep their morale high. I personally tried to be creative in spending my time, trying to learn new things every day, and used my time alone to prepare for my MBA

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I grew up in a business-oriented family and always aspired to get formal education in business administration. This aspiration grew from seeing the problems engulfing the manufacturing sector in developing countries. It was further bolstered through my experiences as a structural engineer at MKA, where I saw the huge gaps between the engineering field and the software industry. Having a STEM background along with my MBA degree and my past experiences, I plan to pursue the role of a product manager and resolve some of the problems in various engineering sectors through innovation.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Haas, Anderson, McCombs, Tepper, Ross, MIT, Kellogg

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Washington Foster’s MBA program? I would advise the candidates to start the admission process by asking themselves “why.” Asking yourself why is the key to not only present yourself in the most genuine way to the school, but will also help you to be sure of your decisions. Further, I would highly recommend reaching out to as many current students and alumni as well as the admission committee to get every question answered. Foster has a very passionate and empathetic admission committee who are ever ready to speak to you and help you to the best of their ability.


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