2022 MBA To Watch: Neetish Bijayananda, Ivey Business School

Neetish (Nicky) Bijayananda

Ivey Business School at Western University

“Solutions driven global citizen grounded in the belief in the power of empathy and diversity.”

Hometown: Berhampur, Odisha, India & Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Fun fact about yourself: I can speak 5 languages (English, Odia, Hindi, French & Khmer) and have lived in 6 countries (India, Cambodia, Singapore, UAE, Australia and now Canada).

Undergraduate School and Degree: S.P. Jain School of Global Management, Bachelor of Business Administration (Major in Finance)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Newport Capital Group in Sydney, Australia as an Investment Banking/Corporate Finance Associate

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? N/A – Ivey is a one-year program

Where will you be working after graduation? Clariti Strategic Advisors in Toronto, Canada as an Investment Banking Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I volunteered with the London Food Bank on Ivey Social Impact Day. This was a very rewarding part of my MBA experience. As a class, we volunteered our time to various community and charitable causes around London. It felt really good to give back and make a connection in the city. The London Food Bank was also educational for me as I learned about how the community tackles food scarcity.

I successfully auditioned for the role of one of the Ivey MBA 2022 Roastmasters. My job is to organize a fun event where we, as a class, can let of some steam and poke fun at ourselves. As a fan of comedy, I’m very excited to plan this celebration of our class and journey together.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? We have 24-hour reports for each of our core subjects at Ivey. Accounting & Control for Managers has historically intimidated fresh MBA candidates. While my group had decided on a direction to go in, we quickly learned that we were headed down the wrong path. While I’m not an accountant by trade, I am familiar with financial statement analysis and was of the more financially-inclined members of my team. Given that, I asked my team if I could lead the new direction of the project and directed the bulk of the work from that point on. While it took us the better part of the night to redraft our paper, we were ultimately successful in securing the highest grades for that paper.

Since then, I have held various tutoring sessions for friends and classmates, especially for those who are less familiar with finance and accounting. This has earned me goodwill with classmates who possess strengths in subjects that I required help in. As a result of my efforts on the ACM 24-hour report, I was able to build better rapport with my learning team and classmates and really felt the support system that exists at Ivey.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Due to the pandemic, my previous employer in Sydney, Australia lost most of its business over night. Being a boutique investment bank, they specialized in sell-side mandates, which in early 2020 came to a halt across the market. Around the same time, the health of our founder and managing director began to suffer. What ensued was a succession crisis that derailed vitally required origination efforts. A fellow associate and I decided to try our hand at originating. While sell-side mandates were scarce at the time, there were plenty of firms interested in restructuring and raising capital. We reached out to companies that were in earlier stages of their lifecycle and looking to raise capital. We assumed that our competitors would be ignoring smaller firms and we had a higher chance of finding “a diamond in the rough”. After a few months of outreach and engaging with founders, we were successful in warming up two potential capital raises clients to the point that we could hand it over to the firm’s leadership. These mandates were vital in carrying the firm during the peak of the pandemic. I am very proud of this achievement because it proved that I am resilient and can navigate a crisis.

Why did you choose this business school? While I was considering where to pursue my MBA, I had several criteria in mind. One of them was ensuring that the program provide holistic management-focused education. Through my research, Ivey repeatedly surfaced an institution that effectively used the case-based pedagogy to achieve just that. My experience at Ivey has further backed up my secondary research. I can confidently say that now I approach problem solving using a combination of frameworks and methods from a from the various courses I have taken here.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? This is a tough question to answer because I truly have more than one. Dave Simpson, who taught Entrepreneurial Finance and Leading Family Firms during the elective periods, is probably at the top of list. Dave’s story of how he got started in entrepreneurship is fascinating. His lessons (both in EF & LFF) are almost all based on his own personal experience, which adds even more authenticity to the analysis of the case. Dave is an incredibly thoughtful professor who was very accommodating to me when I was dealing with the loss of my father in the middle of the program.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? The annual Ivey Cricket Day is one of my favorite events. While the sport is more familiar to the program’s South Asian students, everyone participates. It has by far one of the highest participation rates amongst from our batch and really shows how well we integrate with each other. It’s a chance to share culture, food and a love of sport, which I think is a great way of describing my experience at Ivey thus far.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? At the start of our program, we were completely virtual. Our class found innovative ways to engage with each other online. We started going on one-on-one socially distanced walks with each other around London. While I did this a lot during Core 1, I reduced my outreach to my classmates in Core 2. While my academic performance made the sacrifice worth it, I wish I had spent more time getting to know more people then. My advice for incoming candidates is that don’t miss any chances to get to know your classmates better!

What is the biggest myth about your school? Before coming to Ivey, a lot of people told me that Ivey is a great school if you want to pivot into management consulting. In fact, some said I shouldn’t go to Ivey since I wanted to continue my career in finance. While it is true that one of Ivey’s strengths is in consulting recruiting, I found that the Ivey finance network is strong. I had a positive experience connecting with Ivey alum in the broader finance industry in Canada and beyond. They were incredibly responsive to my approaches and have offered invaluable advice. I hope to be able to “pay it forward” to any incoming Ivey candidates someday.

What surprised you the most about business school? I was surprised as to how supportive everyone is. There is a real sense of camaraderie at Ivey. Many of my classmates can attest to instances where we have reached out to a classmate, who we may not know that well, and ask them for some of their time to do case prep or learn about a particular industry. In addition to the support that Ivey provides, the help that we candidates provide each other has been an invaluable and surprising facet of this experience.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Research into Ivey’s pedagogy through secondary research and speaking to alums was helpful in conveying my interest in the program during the application process. I also believe that I had strong conviction of what my post-graduation plans and how Ivey could be helpful in achieving those goals, was instrumental during the process.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? This also a tough question to answer because I admire so many. However, if I had to pick one it would be Alex Kay. She is so hardworking and humble. She found success in the predominantly male-dominated Oil & Gas industry, is raising a young family while pursuing her MBA, and has also recently started a side-business. Even with all that she is someone you can go to for feedback and is someone who I thoroughly enjoy working with.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My late father was a huge influence in pursuing this degree. When I was considering where to do my MBA, he advised me to go to the institution that made me feel the most welcome. My interaction with Ivey, from day 1, was incredibly personable and I remember relaying this feedback to my father. He always told me to trust my gut, and I’m glad I did.

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

  1. To successfully advise on sell-side, buy-side, IPO, restructuring, and capital raising deals
  2. Start and successfully exit a business

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has brought to light the importance of compassion in all realms of life more than ever. Having gone through a turbulent time during the pandemic in 2020, I have realized that finding a fit with people who are empathetic and value-driven has become a big part of my career choice decision making process.

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

“As an international student coming to do an MBA, Neetish has exceeded all expectations in regards to his involvement within the cohort and academic success.  For a student who has gone through personal tragedy this past year, Neetish has remained optimistic, thoughtful and charismatic.  He is regarded by his peers as “one of the nicest” humans they have ever met and I could not agree more.  He has shown resilience in her personal life as well as in his academics.  He persevered through a challenging time, only to look back and thank those that were there to support him.  Neetish is a well-respected, well liked member of the MBA Class of 2022, and many will miss his positive, cheerful attitude around the halls of Ivey once the program comes to an end.”

Mindy Studnicka
Director, MBA Program Services, Ivey Business School

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