2022 MBA To Watch: Ekta Kishore, IIM Ahmedabad

Ekta Kishore

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

“A doer who believes that the journey is more important than the goal, aspiring to create a global impact in agriculture. 

Hometown: Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh

Fun fact about yourself: My journey led me to work and live across three continents, where I met, interacted, worked, and co-lived with colleagues from over 32 countries.   

Undergraduate School and Degree: Vellore Institute of Technology (Vellore Campus), B. Tech – Chemical Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked with MICHELIN as a Semi-Finished Material Developer

Where have you interned during business school? N/A

Where will you be working after graduation? Company: Krishi Sambandh; Role- Co-Founder / CEO

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

* Committee Lead for SSR – SSR is a student-led committee to create positive change within the IIMA PGPX community.

* Committee Co-Lead for Soul Curry – A platform to share and celebrate our stories, lives, and every emotion around.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Launching my startup! Never having done anything related to the business myself, I dreamt of working in the field of agriculture and solving issues of societal importance. I knew the corporate road to this was too long and probably not for me. Unsure about everything, I took baby steps over the one year at PGPX to nurture and develop the idea. I incorporated my startup, won a Fellowship, got the startup incubated at several incubators across the country, and won a government grant: all within the year at PGPX. I cannot be more thankful to Professor Viswanath, the faculties, and my cohort for supporting me at every step.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? During the successful 8-year stint with Michelin, I was immensely thankful to the organization for helping me carve out a meaningful career while I was there. I transitioned from being a project engineer to a specialty chemical developer, a role that became one of the most defining factors in how my life played out after that. Under this role, I worked with industry giants such as BASF and TOTAL, where we co-developed solutions to bring down the carbon footprint of Michelin factories in Asia. By the end of this project, we could ramp up the factories to use more environment-friendly chemicals, significantly reducing their emissions. This experience taught me how a group of motivated individuals under committed leadership could become agents of change in whatever they do.

Why did you choose this business school? Post my time spent at Michelin, I was determined to make a career shift and explore the world of agriculture. Changing from a very stable career to becoming an agriculturist, I knew I was not only exploring my limits but stretching them. Further, I wanted to make sure that my academic training involved not only getting abreast with managerial skills but also helped me develop the vision and drive to be a change agent. Thus, given its legacy of nurturing many of India’s most exemplary thought leaders, IIM Ahmedabad was my top preference. The institute has accentuated its pedagogy, faculty, brand, and alumni network. Living up to its motto “Vidya Viniyogadvikasa”, meaning development through distribution or application of knowledge, IIM Ahmedabad has constantly produced numerous leaders who have shaped organizations in economic and social contexts. Thus, I couldn’t have aspired and desired more than IIM Ahmedabad.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite event at IIM Ahmedabad was T-nite. An intersection competition of full-time residential programs at IIM Ahmedabad, T-nite is a three-day annual event that seeks to bond students not long after they leave behind the boundaries of this institution. Be it back-breaking dances or clever parodies, the talent showcased is way beyond what gets captured through an MBA application. What remains after a cataclysmic event is never the scoreboard, the scintillating performances, or the embarrassing bloopers but the level of camaraderie that develops among the participants.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? During the classroom lectures, participative learning has been nothing short of transformational at IIM Ahmedabad. In a classroom full of people with such rich and diverse business experiences, professors dive deep to ensure every mind coming in is ignited with thoughts. With COVID-19 hurting us with waves 2 and 3 in India, digital interventions proved to be a boon in continuing education. Still, it surely could never replace what it feels to sit and learn besides such accomplished peers. If I could change one thing, I would ensure that even if the classes were online, I would shift to the campus and run my online courses from my dorm room instead of sitting miles apart and experiencing it.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the business school you chose? I believe an MBA application expresses the applicant’s thoughts, beliefs, and desires, all told in the backdrop of stories drawn from their professional and personal lives. The application for IIM Ahmedabad is structured not only to push you to express your uniqueness, but also to establish your fit in the cohort. I believe working on the above two to tie my stories and describe what makes me deserving, more so for a cohort of such diverse and accomplished professionals, was what worked for me. 

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business as a student? I take immense pride in being daughter to a father who always believed that the power of education, truthfulness, and righteousness could change the world. He made me realize that the applicability of knowledge for the betterment of all is far above any other accomplishments that it brings. We never understood why education at our home never meant marks or pedigree rather focused on mindfulness and impact.

Spending over eight years at Michelin, when I felt the need to expand my horizon of knowledge, I turned to my father’s teachings to guide me in ensuring that whatever I did next helped make the world a better place. It didn’t take me much time to realize that I lacked an understanding of business and that the best way to do it was to head back to school before I began to practice it. Thus, my father’s teachings and his idea to develop oneself worthy of giving back led me to pursue business.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I am committed to building my startup, and my current priorities are:

1. Through the POC (Proof of Concept) on 100 smallholder farmers, build a strong business case for practicing sustainable agriculture in India.

2. Create as many direct/indirect rural employment opportunities as possible.

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

“Being a woman from a conservative social background, and yet finishing an MBA makes Ekta a unique personality in the class. Further, instead of choosing a well-paying job, she decided to pursue entrepreneurship, with a focus on agriculture, farmers and markets. She also won the prestigious Mavericks fellowship awarded to budding entrepreneurs of the graduating cohort by IIMA.”


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