Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management
“Apurva means “unique” in Sanskrit, and that’s exactly what I am.”
Hometown: San Jose, CA
Fun Fact About Yourself: I trained in classical piano for 14 years and convinced my parents to put my little brother in violin lessons so I’d have a duet partner. Now we play instrumental covers of popular songs together!
Undergraduate School and Major: B.S. in Computer Science from The University of Texas at Austin
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Software Engineer at Salesforce
Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA curriculum or programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I am excited to be a part of the second cohort of the MBAi program Kellogg’s new joint degree program with the McCormick School of Engineering. MBAi is designed to give students a rigorous business education integrated with a strong foundation in data and artificial intelligence. As an engineer interested in learning more about leading businesses and driving change in the tech industry, I felt like this program was perfectly curated just for me.
What course, club or activity excites you the most at Northwestern Kellogg? All students across all Kellogg programs (2Y, 1Y, MBAi, MMM, JD-MBA, MD-MBA) are split up into ‘sections’ during the very first week of our experience to help make the large Kellogg student body a little smaller to navigate and easier to form close relationships. We take some core courses with our sections, but we also participate in fun section competitions (much like the Hogwarts House Cup in Harry Potter), ranging from Rock-Paper-Scissors games to participation in volunteering activities to intramural sports. I look forward to unleashing my competitive spirit and bringing home the section cup for the best section at Kellogg—the Bullfrogs. Ribbit, ribbit!
What has been your first impression of the Kellogg MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best Kellogg story so far. The first class we take at Kellogg is called Leadership in Organizations, where we cover a variety of best practices in building a career leading high-performing teams. For the final project of that class, we were asked to interview a senior executive to learn firsthand what success looks like in terms of building and leveraging personal networks. Professor Lauren Rivera encouraged us to reach out to someone who we look up to and take a chance on contacting someone we don’t know yet. Skeptical that I would get a response, I decided to try this approach anyways and contacted a Kellogg alumna who is now the CEO of a well-known technology company. I was surprised that she not only replied, but also actually made time to have a coffee chat with me. We chatted about her experience at Kellogg, professional career afterwards, and advice for an aspiring leader in tech. I left the conversation in awe. That experience really showed me the strength of the Kellogg community and the authenticity and openness of each member that goes beyond the walls of the Global Hub.
What makes Chicago such a great place to earn an MBA? You’re asking a Californian about the Midwest at the right time! The fall here is lovely and Kellogg’s location in Evanston next to Lake Michigan is absolutely breathtaking. Evanston provides a college-town feeling that facilitates forming tight bonds while still having easy access to the big city of Chicago. Chicago is such a vibrant city with a little bit of every industry represented, whether it is healthcare or finance or technology, and that provides multiple opportunities for students to do in-quarter internships or experiential learning courses such as Venture Capital Lab. I’ve also loved getting to explore the variety of food, nightlife, and activities that Chicago has to offer.
Kellogg is known for a team-driven culture. What quality do you bring as a teammate and why will it be so important to the success of MBA class? A willingness to learn. I know that I came to Kellogg because I have my own unique experience to contribute, and similarly so do my peers. As a team, we have the most to gain by learning from each other and I am intentional about making sure all the diverse perspectives in the group are heard. By bringing my curiosity and open mindedness to the table, I can be the hype woman that empowers everyone to contribute their strengths.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’m really proud of how I demonstrated my impact and made myself an invaluable teammate throughout my engineering career, such that senior leadership always thought of me for the new highest priority and highest visibility projects. Additionally, one of my favorite and geekiest accomplishments is writing code that shaved 1 second off every user login to Salesforce!
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? I went into software engineering because I love solving puzzles. My professional experience opened my eyes to an even more interesting challenge—defining the puzzle itself. I wanted to be in the room where decisions were made on what direction the company was going, but I didn’t see a clear path to get there. I had almost no experience in leading organizations or knowledge of the inner workings of a business. I ultimately decided to pursue an MBA to build a foundation in business fundamentals and take a step closer towards this goal. After graduation, I hope to bridge these new skills with my technical background to pivot into a career as a product manager. Or as I like to think of it, a puzzle designer.
What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? If you are looking for inspiration as you think about the future of your life and career, I highly recommend Redefining Ambition, a podcast by The Women’s Network. In each episode, they interview a new woman leader who shares their individual path to success, personal and professional challenges, and their take on what it means to be an ambitious leader in business. I’ve listened to stories about overcoming impostor syndrome and being bold, and it’s really motivated me to actively choose confidence every day.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? The MBAi program really spoke to me, and I actually only applied to Kellogg!
What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Northwestern Kellogg’s MBA program? Do your research on everything that Kellogg has to offer and make sure the program you apply to—and its culture—is the right fit for you. Think ahead about what you are passionate about getting involved in and what only you can contribute to the Kellogg community. Make sure that enthusiasm and individuality shines through your application.
DON’T MISS: MEET NORTHWESTERN KELLOGG’S ENTIRE CLASS OF 2024
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