2022 MBA To Watch: Ridhi Jain, IIM Ahmedabad

Ridhi Jain

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

“Economist by heart and a Business Strategist in the making; Dance, driving and a hiking enthusiast.”

Hometown: Gurugram, Haryana

Fun fact about yourself: I graduated from IIM Ahmedabad, but I had failed the interview for my kindergarten admission

Undergraduate School and Degree: MSc. Economics, University College London

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Role – Economist; Company – The Economist Intelligence Unit

Where have you interned during business school? NA

Where will you be working after graduation? Role – Senior Associate; Company – EY Parthenon

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Business School gives enormous opportunities to showcase and hone leadership skills and IIMA is no different. There were many instances throughout the course which required me to be in a leadership position and showcase different qualities that a leader must possess. For instance, during group submissions, I acquired the role of a delegator to divide and assign the work for group assignments across different members of my study group (popularly known as syndicates at IIMA). In addition, during the inter-programme sports events, I acquired the role of a coach and a motivator to select a team for Women’s Throwball match and give other teams a tough fight. Further, I took initiative throughout the year to organize multiple cultural and sports events which led me to interact with different people and led me to showcase my persuasion and negotiation skills.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Along with showcasing a strong academic performance, I also participated in several external case competitions throughout the year to build necessary business skills and collaborate and learn from my peers. One of my greatest achievements during the business school was to participate in the Global Management Challenge – Student Championship 2021, the world’s largest strategy and management competition. As part of the team, I was responsible to think about a simulated business holistically, apply the learnings of the course, and take business decisions – production, marketing, finance, HR, among others – to ensure continuous high performance viz-a-viz other teams. Our team secured the 3rd place in the National Semi Finals Round, out of 500+ participating teams across India.

I am particularly most proud of this achievement because participating in external case competition such as this one helped me strengthen the concepts taught in class. It, further, taught me the importance of time management, pressure handling and teamwork besides the learning during the regular workload of the programme at B-school.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The most significant accomplishment of my career so far has been conceptualizing and writing a research paper titled, “Mini grids and enterprise development: A study of aspirational change and business outcomes among rural enterprise owners in India”, which was published in Journal of Energy for Sustainable Development. I collaborated with a team and leveraged my project understanding to present findings and key learnings from the Smart Power project (funded by Rockefeller Foundation).

I value this accomplishment the most because I see a tangible output of my work, which has been accepted and acknowledged by the subject-matter experts. I find fulfilment in producing a substantial output that can guide public policy and business decisions. In addition, the accomplishment is particularly important to me because of the invaluable lessons it has taught me. Re-iterating on the content and analysis of the paper has taught me to always take the feedback constructively, to be determined and patiently strive to produce better.

Why did you choose this business school? While the brand speaks for itself, an imperative element of the MBA degree from IIMA was the exposure to various business models, learning from the esteemed faculty, structured courses in business management, and electives on sustainability theme.

One of the key reasons for me to join IIMA was the course structure and the choice of electives that the PGPx program offers. I am a sustainability enthusiast and IIMA offers an eclectic mix of structured courses around green operations and energy, and electives such as carbon markets. IIMA helped me pursue and nurture my interests within the sustainability domain and build the necessary business skills.

The complete package enabled me to engage in continuous learning and fulfill my goals and objectives from a business education. IIMA’s emphasis on practical learning and an opportunity to learn from competent business professionals from various industries further convinced me to choose IIMA.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? That’s a tough one. I would take the liberty to choose two Professors as my favorites: Prof. Viswanath Pingali and Prof. Saral Mukherjee. These Professors taught the courses named as Firms and Markets (aka Microeconomics) and Marketplaces and Platforms (MAP) respectively. Even though I have specialized in Economics, I would have never imagined that the course in microeconomics (probably the third time I studied this subject) would be so transformational. Similarly, MAP exposed me to the most contemporary business models of marketplaces and multi-sided platforms and enlightened me about the diversity in how the platforms and markets coordinate a large number of individuals/businesses with varying needs and motivations.

For me, the differentiating factors were the course structure, which these professors meticulously designed, and the delivery method — both of which generated curiosity in me to learn more. Both of the professors have special skills to impart knowledge in a manner that the retention and application of the theoretical concepts are enhanced, and the learnings stay with you for a long time. What I liked the most was that they not only made the tough subjects easy to grasp but also made the entire learning experience more enjoyable.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I firmly believe that a student experience is incomplete without active participation in other cultural and sports activities. IIMA has numerous traditions that allow students to take the steam off academics and sweat it out on the court or the famous LKP Plaza. A few such traditions – including the inter-programme competitions such as the T-Night annual cultural event and Aakrosh, the annual Sports’ event – are at the heart of IIMA. The two events bring out the competitive spirits out in the students and motivate them to perform to the best of their abilities and make their section win.

On a lighter note, these traditions not only offer a platform for the students to showcase their talent, but also facilitate cross-programme interaction and networking. Furthermore, participation across these cultural and sports competitions allows students to build new connections and friendships that last even after the program concludes. Lastly, these traditions provide an opportunity for the students to live a wholesome student experience and develop their teamwork, leadership, and time management skills within the business school.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The edge of the PGPx program at IIMA is that it admits students who have substantial work experience and come with diverse backgrounds such as technology, energy, and finance. An added advantage to do an MBA with such learned cohort is that the discussions are enriched and there is a lot of scope for learning beyond the classroom with the peers.

I lived in a Married Student Housing at the campus and therefore missed out on opportunities to interact with my batchmates during the mess hours or late-night discussions at the dorms. If I need to do something differently in my MBA, it would be to experience the missed interactions with the batchmates. I would take more initiative and spend more time beyond the classroom with the batchmates to know more about them and learn from them.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the business school you chose? While there are standard requirements that one needs to fulfil before getting into IIMA, the one thing that helped me throughout the process was the will and the desire to be at IIMA. This entailed identifying early on three fundamental aspects: (a) asking why I wanted to do an MBA at this career juncture; (b) gaining clarity on why IIMA will be the best B-School for me and; (c) knowing what I bring to the table.

In my opinion, the entire process from preparing for GMAT to drafting applications and then finally to the interview is a true reflection of what MBA entails and demands. One may get rattled with juggling with application process and managing their job and family responsibilities. Therefore, what gave me an edge was to start early and give myself enough time to prepare for exams and re-iterate on the essays. This helped me to gain clarity on the above-mentioned fundamental aspects so I could put out a power-packed application. Most importantly, while reflecting on my career progression, I could pinpoint on the key differenting factors (which in my case was my diverse academic background and work experience before MBA). In the process, I was able to highlight the same adeptly to showcase how it would add value to the classroom discussions and peer learning at IIMA.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business as a student? After working for five years, I felt that it was the right time to take a leap and plan for my MBA. A key person who influenced my decision to translate my wish into an action is my husband. He is also an MBA graduate and his business knowledge and ease in understanding various business models inspired me to pursue an MBA. He motivated me to invest in education to acquire a 360-degree business view, necessary to transition from an economist to a business strategist.

My husband has a significant role to play in the entire MBA journey. He consistently supported me to reflect about why MBA would be the right decision at this point in my career and how it would lead to my career growth. It was his motivation and relentless support that gave me the courage to walk on this path and confidently pursue business education, even after marriage.

In fact, COVID-19 came as a blessing in disguise. During this time, work from home became a norm, and my husband could accompany me to the campus. He kept me motivated throughout the course as well and made the entire MBA journey memorable for me.

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

(A) I want to become an expert in my field: Building on learnings from my MBA, I want to engage with diverse portfolio of clients within EY- Parthenon and develop skills to marry business strategy with concepts of sustainability. My long-term goal is to work my way up to a senior leadership position, become a mentor with an expertise in sustainability strategy development, and develop a dedicated practice for the same within the firm.

(B) Always be a student and be humble: With accomplishment comes a growing pressure to pretend that we know more than we actually do. That’s a huge risk – thinking that we know it all, when essentially learning and mastery is a continual process. The famous jazz musician, Wynton Marsalis, has rightly said, “Humility engenders learning because it beats back the arrogance that puts blinders on.”

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

“An economist by training, Ridhi brings some unique perspectives to the class. Having worked with the Economist, she is intently aware of the current events, and has a nuanced view about them. During her MBA she was active in several extra curricular activities including sports. It is amazing to see her finishing among the toppers of the batch as well.”


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