2022 MBA To Watch: Shravya Amarnath, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Shravya Amarnath

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Entrepreneurial and impact-focused individual; empathetic at heart and humble by nature.”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun fact about yourself: I once took on the challenge of completing 100 days of photography. I now have 100 reasons why I shouldn’t become a photographer.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Vellore Institute of Technology(VIT) , India- B.Tech Computer Science & Engineering

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Associate Product Manager at OneAssist Consumer Solutions

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? Product Manager at PayPal

Where will you be working after graduation? PM at Microsoft

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Data Analytics Club: Led one of the largest educational clubs at Tepper to develop next-gen data-informed decision-makers equipped with strong analytical skills.
  • Pro-Bono Consulting: Helped a local non-profit raise long-term grant funds by defining value proposition, developing business strategy, and building investment pitches.
  • Innovation Associate, Corporate Startup Lab: Drove product discovery and strategy for ML-powered innovations at a global tech company’s AI research division as a CMU startup lab fellow.
  • Accelerate Leadership Communication Coach: Coached and mentored MBA students on building their leadership and communication skills. Also conducted 100+ sessions helping students build effective resumes and prepare for recruitment interviews.
  • Advisory Board, Business & Technology Club: Mentored students interested in Product Management and Tech Careers on PM skill development and interview prep.
  • Teaching Assistant- Managing Presentations: Evaluated and Advised 50+ students on effective business communication strategies.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? This year, I had the opportunity to serve as the President of Tepper Data Analytics Club, one of the largest educational clubs helping MBA students hone their analytical skills. Analytics is integral to Tepper curriculum and our board shouldered the responsibility to equip students with sound data analytic skills.  I am most proud of my efforts in revamping our club goals and re-aligning our programming to better fit the skills and interests of our members. We strived to make data less intimidating for our budding decision-makers by helping them build a strong foundation of data analytics across various roles and industries and bolster their data-driven decision-making skills through hands-on training. I also sought to create mutually beneficial synergies with various clubs from other CMU schools and programs to promote cross-campus collaboration across the wider CMU community. With these efforts, we increased our membership base by 80% and have helped almost 180+ students feel more comfortable and confident in using data for sound decision-making.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As the first and sole product manager of an early-stage social tech startup, I led zero-to-one product efforts in building India’s first multi-sided market network platform that facilitates solving social issues at scale. I am most proud of this role as it taught me to navigate the ambiguity and pressures of building an early-stage startup and tackle challenges associated with working in a fast-paced dynamic environment with a lean team and limited resources.

I took these challenges as opportunities to experiment and implement new strategies to build a strong product culture.  For instance, I adopted the customer development model to design more user-centric products and instituted agile practices to streamline our development cycles. I also built and led the engineering team, while setting up new team processes, optimising resource deployment and managing team dynamics. This role was truly all about finding clarity in chaos, all day, every day! This foundational work has helped the company rapidly expand its impact footprint and realize its vision of aggregating the vastly fragmented social development ecosystem. The platform is advancing the global sustainable development goals (SDGs) in sectors like education, agriculture, livelihood empowerment and so far, has enabled the deployment of over 300 social innovations across the country helping over 1500 NGOs and their beneficiaries.

Why did you choose this business school? I was looking to invest 2 years of my time in an MBA program that would help me become a well-rounded product leader. And Tepper MBA offered a promising mix of business, leadership, analytics, and technology to help me gain effective decision-making skills as well as advance my leadership abilities to grow as an inclusive leader of the future.

Tepper certainly is known for its quantitative rigor but the program also offers abundant opportunities to hone soft skills and is complemented by a diverse yet collaborative and supportive community. Moreover, the flexibility to customise my curriculum and choose courses from other CMU schools sealed the deal for me as I intended to widen my technical scope by leveraging courses offered by the top-notch Carnegie Mellon’s school of computer science.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? It would be social events like ‘Thursday Bar Nights’  and ‘Friday B**rs’ , which literally keep the spirits high! These events happen almost every week and are a great way for students to wind down after a busy week and connect with one another casually over food and drinks. These are just some of the ways for building a collaborative and supportive community at Tepper. We keep it real and strive to forge genuine connections.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The one thing I wish I had done differently is to accept that it’s necessary to take regular breaks, unwind a bit, and have more fun. The MBA life surely gets hectic and I have learnt how to prioritize and balance the demands of the program. However, if I were to do it all again, I’d definitely want to spare more time for myself and my peers.

What is the biggest myth about your school? Tepper MBA is known for its analytical rigor and it’s a common myth that only students from a quant or an engineering background can succeed in the program. However, the curriculum is designed to help students build the essential analytical skills from the ground up and offers many foundational courses such as the math skills workshop for anyone looking to learn or review the basic concepts. As a result, students coming from diverse backgrounds have been able to ease into the program smoothly. Moreover, the faculty members are genuinely supportive and do not hesitate to mentor students as needed.

What surprised you the most about business school? As a person of many interests, I was quite surprised by the diverse and abundant opportunities that are available at Tepper for students to explore different interests and career paths. I came into the program almost assuming that I’d spend most of my time on academics or recruitment, but I am glad I have been able to do so much more than just that!

I learned and honed my leadership style with Tepper’s 1-1 accelerate leadership coaching and put these learnings to practice with club leadership roles. I thoroughly enjoyed my engagement with CMU Swartz Center, which let me deploy my prior startup experiences and business knowledge gained through the courses to work on high-priority strategic projects at global companies. I also dabbled with pro-bono consulting to put my newfound skills and knowledge to good use and give back to the larger nonprofit community. I built a strong network of supportive peers, faculty, and staff with these various roles and activities. I have truly seen myself grow personally and professionally over the last 2 years and I would not have it any other way!

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Having a clear goal and purpose of pursuing an MBA helped me in more ways than I could imagine, both during the application process and in school. I clearly communicated my goals and highlighted how the Tepper MBA program would help me achieve them. I also emphasized on how I could add value to the community with my skills and experiences. In short, authentically communicating what and why I wanted and how I planned to reach my goals with the MBA program helped me get into Tepper.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The classmate I admire the most is Hannah Zhang. She was one of my first teammates at Tepper for one of our initial case study discussions and I remember being amazed by her sharp problem-solving skills. We continued to partner for other case competitions and Business & Technology club activities throughout the program. I admire her efficiency in getting things done and her effective people management skills. I am sure she will go on to do great things after school.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My family influenced me to pursue MBA and supported me through it all. My sister – Divya Amarnath – is my biggest inspiration and cheerleader. She is the first working woman in our family and has independently built a strong career. She paved her own path and persevered to reach her goals through her hard work and dedication She persistently pursues greater heights and is now one of the fastest-rising business leaders in India.

My sister has always pushed me to aim higher and step out of my comfort zone. She made me understand the value of business education in growing my career. She also actively helped me find the right schools and guided me through the application process. She plays a pivotal role in my life decisions and continues to mentor me through my MBA journey and beyond.

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

  • Launch a product loved by millions of people across the globe
  • Start a business and product blog and share my learnings and experiences with aspiring product managers

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has made me understand the value of risk taking and resilience when the going gets tough. Coming into an MBA program at the peak of the pandemic and economic recession felt highly risky and stressful. But the risks paid off, as we see our class enjoying some of the highest employment opportunities and recruitment numbers. I have seen people, companies, universities and other institutions bounce back and adapt to the new normal in ways that may have been difficult to imagine otherwise. This goes on to show how important it is to stay flexible and resilient in the face of adversity.

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

“During Shravya’s time at Tepper I’ve interacted with her in multiple capacities. In all cases, I can unequivocally state that she was one of my “best and brightest.” I’d like to highlight two ways we’ve worked together.

First, the Corporate Startup Lab, an entrepreneurship lab that I lead, has a fellowship program where graduate students from across Carnegie Mellon apply to collaborate with us and our corporate partners. We had 125 students apply to participate and only were able to accept 13. While very competitive, Shravya stood out in the application process due not only to her impressive experience, but the passion and care she took with each. Once selected she went above and beyond, taking on a leadership role exploring how cutting-edge machine learning techniques should change one partner’s product roadmap. As a representative of the Corporate Startup Lab and the University, Shravya epitomized to our corporate sponsor the top tier talent with which we are privileged to work by jumping into an intellectually complex project and leaving the company with a roadmap to success.

Second, in the classroom, I have had the pleasure of having Shravya in two of my courses. In both cases, she was an exemplary student who not only did excellent work, but also made valuable contributions to the classroom discussion. One of these courses was a new pilot offering, Finance for Product Managers, focused on supporting those MBAs interested in a career in product management to increase their ability to assess, forecast, and communicate the financial health of individual products. While the course was well received by all students, Shravya went above-and-beyond providing constructive feedback to me, improving the course for future students. Her passion for product management and regard for the experience of her peers has made her an invaluable asset to our University environment.”

Sean Ammirati
Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship
Tepper School of Business


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.