Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Yamini Dave, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Yamini Dave

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

“A learn-it-all, authentic and resilient leader with expertise in sales and marketing in the healthcare industry. Passionate about improving the well-being of society.” 

Hometown: Mumbai, Maharashtra

Fun Fact About Yourself: As I didn’t want my passion for sales and marketing to be curtailed by the limitations of women’s safety in late-night public transport travel, I took the problem into my hands as I enrolled in Taekwondo classes. Now I can confidently navigate any dark corner as a Taekwondo Black belt holder and shout “Kihap” loudly with every kick or strike.

Undergraduate School and Location:  I hold a Bachelor of Pharmacy Degree from Mumbai University.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Sanofi, a Fortune 500 global healthcare company, as a Senior Area Manager of the vaccines portfolio. I am responsible for designing and driving differentiated GTM strategy for new product launches and business expansion, conceptualization and deployment of marketing strategy and leading diverse teams.

Aside from your classmates, what was the critical part of IIM Ahmedabad’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? As I spoke with various alums, they ingrained in me the need to acquire KASH (No, I have not misspelt it). And IIMA’s well-renowned professors, with their curated variety of case studies from diverse industries and functions, help us elevate our thought processes by forcing us to dissect cases from the protagonist’s point of view. Today I think like a Tech Start-up founder, and tomorrow, I will be the CFO of an FMCG company. This structured learning process instilled in us the Knowledge, Ability, Skills, and Habits (KASH) required to solve complex business problems promptly and effectively.

After going through more than 100 cases in the past three months, I am confident that I have made the right decision by joining IIMA. The KASH I have acquired has helped me identify problems and build solutions after assessing alternate perspectives, not just based on my life experiences.

What has been your favourite course or extracurricular activity at IIM Ahmedabad? What has been the most important lesson that you have learned from it? PGPX professors constantly ask us to re-evaluate our professional experiences based on the knowledge that we were gaining from their classes. In this activity named “reflections”, we are asked to upload our respective reflections in a shared location. It is an exciting and eye-opening experience to look back at my past through the lens of my recently-acquired knowledge. However, it is even more interesting to read up and get inspired by the reflections of my batch’s distinguished and diverse cohort.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Due to the pandemic, the Indian pharmaceutical sales sector grappled with a sudden halt in its in-person-only working mode. At Sanofi, the vaccine portfolio faced challenges of reduced patient footfall, change in our clients’ engagement models, primary distributors’ liquidity crunch, and all of us being disrupted by the “new” normal. As Sales Leaders, we were tasked to rebound our sales numbers while managing the change enforced by the pandemic and the new normal ‘remote ways’. Boosting my team’s morale and empowering them to navigate the uncertainty and instability with resilience became my biggest priority.

I focused on training and mentoring my team to handle newer remote call models and engagement tools. I guided my team to create a territory-level engagement plan for customers based on various ‘unlock’ scenarios with a good mix of digital touchpoints. I also ensured a steady flow of communication within the team and hand-held them during this challenging period. We also leveraged our strong partnerships with distributors to ensure a continuous supply of our products to customers even without our physical presence in the field. As a result, we transitioned to a 100% digital engagement model within a short period, achieved the highest digital touchpoint coverage in the region and maintained our market share.

Because of this achievement, I received a fast-track promotion to become the youngest Senior Area Manager and the only sales professional selected for a global talent development program ‘EVOLVE’ by Sanofi’s management.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: I have always believed that education is much more than takeaways from a textbook or the classroom. In a business school, learning is an ongoing process and can happen in multiple forms. Hence, I had decided early on to participate in as many clubs and activities as possible so that my education would not just be limited to my academic takeaways. So, I became a core member of six distinguished clubs and special interest groups. Currently, I am driving an initiative to host a joint case competition to be co-organized by the marketing and the product management clubs, to build synergy across various clubs and interest groups, which on its success would demonstrate the benefits of cross-functional cooperation. I hope this would inspire more collaboration among the different clubs and hopefully enrich and enhance the learnings of the cohort.

What is your class’s favourite hangout away from school? Why do you gather there? My class’s favourite hangout place is the marvelous Louis Kahn Plaza (LKP), located at the old IIM Ahmedabad campus. It serves as a thread that binds vibrant student communities on campus starting from PGP 1st years to PhD candidates. It is our go-to place post the midnight study sessions. Playing Frisbee at 2 am on LKP ground has become a habit that we cherish and can’t forego.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point, and what do you hope to do after graduation? During my recent marketing assignment under the mentorship of the Marketing Director at Sanofi, I was given an opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary team tasked with increasing the vaccine coverage rate in the underpenetrated Indian market. The interactions within the group were inspiring for me, as we used analytical frameworks, strategic thinking, and economic logic, among others, to arrive at decisions. This gave me insights into conversations in an MBA classroom, and I knew that as I progressed in my career, I could bank upon the learnings and discussions from a diverse and qualified cohort like the one seen year after year at IIMA.

Immediately after my MBA degree, I plan to join one of the global pharmaceutical firms as a business strategy manager, where I would collaborate with CXOs, formulating tactical and strategic business plans by scanning and monitoring the market, and executing the strategic direction for the region by translating those strategies into precise results.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM Ahmedabad? Believe in yourself. Be proactive, start early, and introspect – have clarity on why you want to do an MBA, and talk to as many alums as you can to gain more clarity on the program and the B-school. Lastly, don’t let your niche professional background or personal challenges stop you from pursuing your MBA dream.


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