2022 MBA To Watch: Ranjana Chandramouli, Wharton School

Ranjana Chandramouli

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“Introverted engineer passionate about equity in STEM, movies, street-art, macarons, and finding the perfect chai.”

Hometown: Centennial, CO

Undergraduate School and Degree: B.S. Chemical Engineering, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Team Leader – Commercialization Tech Center, Eli Lilly and Company

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? McKinsey and Company, Summit, NJ

Where will you be working after graduation? McKinsey and Company, Associate-Operations

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Joseph Wharton Fellow

Lipman Family Prize Fellow and Coordinator

Wharton Women in Business Vice-President – Wharton Male Allies liaison

Career Fellow – Consulting

Communication Fellow

Consulting Club board – Operations

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Coming into business school, I knew I wanted to explore social impact work. I found out about the Lipman Family Prize during our Pre-Term and was ecstatic to get to join the fellowship as part of the McNulty Leadership program in my first year. I learned so much about how non-profits and the philanthropy landscape operate as we evaluated a number of organizations for the foundation’s annual prize. Through the experience, I tested out my leadership style and how I interact in peer groups. I embraced the multi-disciplinary, tight-knit community that the fellowship created, even in a virtual environment. By the end of it all, when my fellow Fellows and I were on stage to present the final winner of the prize, it definitely felt like the culmination of a lot of hard, diligent, and impactful work that we had put in throughout the year.

This year, I was honored to get to continue to engage with the McNulty Leadership program and the Lipman Family Prize as a coordinator for the fellowship program. Not only have I gotten to meet a new cohort of passionate and interesting people from across Penn, but I have developed new skills in facilitation and higher-level planning and execution all while continuing to learn about the non-profit space. Getting to see the direct impact of our work on these organizations and on our cohort has been rewarding to see.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? A few years into my career as an engineer at Eli Lilly, I became chair of the company’s Women’s Engineering Network (WEN). The group had recently been restarted and was trying to find its footing and impact as an organization, just as I was still trying to learn how to be an effective engineer at the company. I worked to build an executive board, create metrics and goals for committees, and benchmarked with other company ERGs. My main goal was to create awareness around the power of the community we could build for women in engineering at the company, especially because I found so much support from women in a male-dominated field.

Together as a team, we more than doubled our membership, greatly increased the number and type of professional and social events and worked with HR to create a sustainable way to incorporate new women engineers as members to the group. We created from scratch and sponsored a signature, company-wide event to celebrate the accomplishments of women engineers at our company. While the first year was a huge success and got a lot of support through many levels in the company, what I feel most proud of is that the event continued after my tenure and has grown significantly in size and impact. I’m proud to see the thriving organization WEN has become and how the work we put in to get the group off to a running start will only continue to pay dividends for future women engineers at the company.

Why did you choose this business school? Having gone to a very small, homogenous, engineering school for college, I was excited to be part of a large, diverse student body at Wharton and the opportunities that come from being part of a large university ecosystem like Penn. At Wharton, I feel like I can continue to meet new, interesting people every week. At Penn, I can interact with a wide variety of disciplines, whether it is through classes or cross-functional extracurriculars, like the Penn Biotech Group, the Lipman Family Prize fellowship, or speakers and seminars provided more broadly.

Also coming from a non-business background, I wanted a strong foundation in business fundamentals through Wharton’s core class requirements. I liked that it would be delivered in a variety of ways (whether quantitative, discussion-based, or a mix of the two). I could find comfort in calculating numbers in Excel but also stretch to think out loud and co-create learning with my classmates in discussions. Added bonuses were getting to explore Philadelphia and live closer to my sister!

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Corinne Low, who teaches our ‘Economics of Diversity’ class. Not only does she bring to the forefront a lot of issues that should be discussed more regularly and consistently in business school regarding gender and race, but she creates a very welcoming environment that facilitates co-created learning. While many other discussions and topics at Wharton focus on more managerial or business applications of diversity, equity and inclusion, Low encourages us to also take a macro look about how this affects us as people personally as professionals and people as well as society in a whole.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I participated in a ‘slam’ put on by our Storytellers club last year, where students are invited to share to an audience a story surrounding a certain theme. Despite sharing a pretty personal, intimate experience (over Zoom, no less!), I found immense love and support from the people who were in attendance. Even to this day, I get to meet new people who heard my story and we are able to immediately connect on a deeper level. Sharing my story at the Slam helped me make more intimate connections in a larger student body for those that are willing to take the time to listen or share.

Since then, I’ve gotten to attend more of their slams, as well as small group dinners, that continually encourage sharing experiences and stories beyond the superficial or typical conversation. Being able to give back and engage with others to pay that empathetic, supportive feeling forward to others has been incredibly rewarding.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I wish I had been willing to engage with different affinity groups earlier. I was very tentative in the beginning because I didn’t want to impede on the spaces others had created within their community, but people at Wharton are so willing to share their culture and welcome others. I’ve gotten to learn so much from classmates as they take joy in their traditions, their culture, their values, and (most importantly) their food. With such a short time that we spend in business school, I wish I could have recognized the unique opportunity it presents to engage with so many different people on different levels and then taken advantage of it sooner.

What is the biggest myth about your school? There’s a perception that Wharton is a finance-only school (which, I won’t lie, did concern me coming into business school from a non-business background). People interested in that space have plenty of classes, resources and support, but I’ve also found support for my interests in consulting and social impact to be very thorough and rich. I’ve also seen the extensive resources available for those interested in a variety of industries, like entrepreneurship and tech, beyond the traditional finance space.

What surprised you the most about business school? Just how quickly it has gone! It feels like just yesterday I was getting ready for pre-term or practicing cases for consulting recruiting. With so many activities and opportunities that happen every single week, the two years really flies by. I’ve been trying to prioritize taking time to reflect and enjoy every single moment I can with this group of people while we are all still together.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Since the Team-Based Discussion (TBD) is such a unique part of the application process for Wharton, I think taking care to understand what the best way to approach it helped me feel calm and prepared going into the interview day. I let go of feeling like I needed to fight for my ideas and embraced the collaborative group atmosphere, which took away a lot of stress and allowed me to perform the best I could!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I met Aniebiet Abasi at a random brunch a fellow student was hosting and have been lucky to build a friendship with her over the past two years. Whether practicing casing for consulting recruiting, bonding over financial valuations class, or just catching up about life, I admire her candor, humility, intelligence, and commitment to her values. She has a very welcoming energy that draws in people and asks thoughtful questions in class. I can’t wait to see the great things she’ll accomplish in her career!

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My dad also comes from a technical background and his MBA was definitely a turning point in his career. From him, I understood the benefit of having a strong technical foundation like engineering, which was not only intellectually challenging but also taught me problem solving and detail-orientation. But I also realized that there was another bucket of skills and capabilities in business and management that were equally important to be professionally successful. Most importantly to me personally, being able to bridge between the two was a unique and very valuable skill.

While jumping from engineering to business has been difficult, I have been lucky to have my dad as a roadmap and source of guidance as I’m trying to navigate this new part of my career.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?  I want to live and work internationally in some capacity, as I think learning more about how the people and businesses operate outside the US would be eye-opening. I would also love to start a non-profit centered on advocating for and providing access to STEM programs for minority women. This is something I found a passion for starting in college and then my experiences professionally and through volunteering solidified the importance of this work in my mind. Now with the skills I’ve learned at Wharton, I think this goal feels more realistic and accessible.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? There are probably two big shifts that I anticipate prioritizing after living through a pandemic the past two years. The first is around prioritizing time for myself and loved ones. In the early part of the pandemic, I was unable to quarantine with my family and had a lot of time to myself, which made me appreciate taking time alone to relax and not be always on the move. Then during my first year at Wharton, I found myself wanting to spend more time with family right when I couldn’t, so I will cherish and prioritize making time to see them as often as I can now.

The second is around the type of work I want to do. After seeing the stark existing inequities in access and justice that were only worsened with the pandemic, this underlined to me the importance of dedicating my time and energy to helping alleviate gaps related this in some capacity. I understand that this can come either be through work or volunteering – whatever can be most impactful – but the understanding that there are a lot of ways that we can help raise up others was a salient realization through the past two years.

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

“Ranjana is the friend, leader, teammate, and partner that everyone loves to have. She served as a year-long Lipman Fellow during her first year in a cohort of 12 fellows from across the university during a very unusual virtual year. The fellowship requires a lot of introspection, a growth mindset, investment in teamwork, and openness to feedback. It is rare for a student to receive such overwhelming positive anonymous feedback as Ranjana did that year. The staff as well as her peers from across 8 different schools at Penn experienced her as an incredibly strong organizer and communicator who helps bridge information, make connections, and build community. She is a great listener and actively engages and knows maturely how to create space. She is compassionate and friendly in team settings and shines in her strength of individualization as she is able to easily name her peers’ positive qualities, shout out highlights, and thank others for their vulnerability and contributions. She is incredibly thoughtful and poses excellent questions for the group to consider.

These character traits and strengths have served her well this year as she is now leading our group in her role as a fellows coordinator for the Lipman Fellowship. Unsurprisingly, she is thriving yet again in this role, truly embracing her opportunity to grow in her leadership skills and hold a team’s culture and experience together through her facilitation. She has thrived in the rest of the Wharton context as well, somehow balancing on top of the Lipman experience also being a Career Fellow, Communications Fellow, and serving on the Wharton Women in Business Board and Consulting Club Board. What a privilege it has been to get to know Ranjana during her time here at Wharton.”

Euria Min
Director, Lipman Family Prize
McNulty Leadership Program



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