Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Sanjana Puri, University of Chicago (Booth)

Sanjana Puri

University of Chicago, Booth School of Business

“Curious explorer, data-nerd, always ready for the next big challenge.”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’ve moved 6 times in the past 7 years (and lived on 3 different continents!)

Undergraduate School and Major: Wellesley College, Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Manager, Site Navigation – Luxury & Specialty Brands @ Wayfair

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Chicago Booth’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I love the Chicago Booth ethos to be ‘bold’. To me, this manifests in the way the curriculum is designed. The flexibility puts you in the driver’s seat from the get-go and requires a higher level of intentionality to maximize your MBA experience. On the other hand, the abundance of experiential learning incubates ideas while giving you a tangible way to explore different industries. I’m excited to dip my toe into marketing by participating in the Kilts Marketing Case Competition – where you use real consumer data to develop a plan to help a company launch a new product. I can’t wait to deepen my understanding of entrepreneurship by working with startups as part of the Polsky Center Lab classes.

Finally, I wholeheartedly believe that data is foundational to the future of every industry and I know that Chicago Booth’s quantitative rigor will give me an edge in this area (while appealing to the data nerd in me!).

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Chicago Booth, and why? Career development has always been a passion of mine. In my previous role, I helped found a forum dedicated to this topic. As a people manager, I found it intensely rewarding to understand what motivates people and how I could help them bring their best selves to work. Ironically, my experiences here only showed me how much more I have to learn. I’m so excited by everything coming out of the Davis Center for Leadership. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to continue to work on my soft skills and learn how to drive change, inspire others, and create inclusive spaces that people from all backgrounds can thrive in.

What has been your first impression of the Booth MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far? Unbelievably intelligent, unbelievably caring, and intentionally inclusive. Boothies genuinely want to learn about you and will go to great lengths to support you.

One instance that comes to mind was when I wasn’t able to attend the admit weekend because of COVID. What stood out to me was how easy it was to get Boothies on the phone and how generous they were in leveraging their networks so I could also speak to students at other schools I was considering. This was a community that really wanted me to find the school that was the best fit for me (even if it wasn’t Booth!). I really loved this culture and it’s something I’ve continued to see play out as we get settled into school.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Working on the site navigation team at Wayfair for over 4 years was my most challenging and fulfilling role to date. I had the opportunity to help build a new team from scratch and work on a wide range of projects – developing a playbook to optimize on-site search globally, spearheading our approach to inject inspiration into the customer journey, and optimizing the different paths to product across our luxury and specialty sites. The most exciting project I worked on was helping transform the onsite shopping experience of our three lifestyle brands to be at par with other higher-end specialty players in the market. This launch was the culmination of months of close collaboration with the product, engineering, business and marketing teams, and was a major milestone for the company.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I wanted to round out the more niche experience I’d gained in my previous role with the broader skills and knowledge of an MBA. An MBA will allow me to hone my leadership skills, gain exposure to different functional areas, and grow my network. This will make me a more effective, well-rounded leader in pursuing a career at the intersection of strategy, retail, and tech post-graduation

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I became really interested in mindfulness when I was an applicant (my favorite app is ten percent happier). Carving out ten minutes for guided meditations each day allowed me to have time to check-in with myself and reset. That way, I could more effectively transition from ‘work’ mode to ‘essay or GMAT’ mode. This was a great way for me to balance applications with a full-time job – I strongly recommend prospective MBA candidates to find an outlet that works for them since the application period can be quite stressful.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? HBS, Wharton, Kellogg, Yale SOM

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Chicago Booth’s MBA program? Be authentic! I cannot stress that enough. It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to be what you think admission officers want but I promise you, there truly isn’t a single ‘right’ profile. With no word limit, Chicago Booth’s essays give you the opportunity to really tell your story through your own words, so I encourage you to reflect on your journey so far, understand how that ties into your future goals, and identify how Chicago Booth fits into this picture.


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