Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Avani Gangavelli, Vanderbilt University (Owen)

Avani Gangavelli

Vanderbilt University, Owen Graduate School of Management

“Sister, Daughter, Friend, Hiker, Reader, Dancer, Cookie Afficionado, Champion of Women in Business.”

Hometown: Aurora, Colorado

Fun Fact About Yourself:

Nerdy Fun Fact: I have read each Harry Potter book over 30 times – I am a proud Gryffindor and massive Harry Potter fan.

Cool Fun Fact: I hope to summit above 20,000 ft one day. I have hiked several fourteeners in Colorado, and the highest I’ve hiked is Rainbow Mountain in Cusco, Peru, at 17,060 feet, so I’m on my way up!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Connecticut – Healthcare Management

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Cognizant Technology Solutions – Healthcare Business Analyst and Technical Lead

What has been your favorite part of Nashville so far? Why? The live music everywhere and the diversity of music. I have never lived in the south, so that has been a fun culture shift. I love walking into a restaurant or bar and seeing people singing and dancing at any hour of the day.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? My career and network of people matter immensely to me. I chose to come study healthcare at Owen because Nashville is the mecca of healthcare; the education and networking I am involved in at Owen has proven that this was the right place for me to get my MBA. I’m learning about current problems in healthcare in real time, due to our incredible professors, and brainstorming what we can do as future leaders to improve the patient experience. Additionally, the personal scale aspect of Owen that I felt from the first person I talked to until now has been a game changer for me! Whether it be classmates, staff, professors, or alumni, everyone is so willing to chat and support me through the business school process, and that hasn’t let up one bit now that I am at Owen. We are a small but mighty network!

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Vanderbilt Owen? So far, I love the Women’s Business Association. It is great to have a community of strong, inspiring women to lean on as we navigate the highs and lows of business school. The array of official programming offered are social events, women in business panels, and a mentorship program, but it’s the unofficial connections that are incredible. The friendships I have formed with the women of Owen are long lasting, and I’m excited to see how we grow and hopefully provide a safe space for our incoming women.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The biggest accomplishment in my career is getting the chance to use my leadership skills and manage a team of four developers to transform the project we were working on. As a technical lead at Cognizant, I was working on a payer product that priced patient plans for hospitals, insurance companies, and additional providers. When I saw major inefficiencies in our project plan, I made changes by consolidating team meetings and creating streamlined procedures for product implementation, increasing efficiency by 20%. I would not have been able to implement my ideas if it weren’t for the support of my team and using their feedback to become a well-rounded leader.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far?  I feel extremely proud of the leadership positions I have assumed because I really care about making an impact through the various opportunities. As a Campus Visit Coordinator, I get to interact with prospective students and guide them through the admissions process, share my candid experiences as an MBA student, and basically relive my glory days as a tour guide in undergrad. For extracurriculars, I am the Director of Events for Vanderbilt Business Healthcare Association and on the Women’s Business Association board, focused on external affairs and inclusion. I’m passionate about both organizations and hope to host academic and social events that will engage our MBA class. Lastly, my ‘Try something new’ take is becoming a Board Fellow for the 2022-2023 calendar year. I am honored to have the opportunity to sit as a non-voting member on the board of a local non-profit organization, something I have never done and am excited to learn a lot from the upcoming experience. To me, all of these roles act as building blocks to becoming a kind, collaborative leader at Owen and beyond.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? Most mornings while I get ready, I like to listen to either music or a podcast. If I’m feeling my boss girl business persona, I will rotate listening to these 3 podcasts: FT News Briefing, Gist Healthcare Daily, and Up First. It’s a great 10–15-minute overview of what’s going on in the world, either in society, business, or healthcare. I started this habit a little while before business school, begrudgingly at first, but it wound up being so useful in understanding what current events were happening and what I could relate to. Also, it is a great way to gear up for interviews!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Vanderbilt Owen’s MBA program? Authenticity matters. There are several components to your application: your undergraduate GPA, GMAT scores, essays, letters of recommendation – the list goes on. But the admissions committee wants to admit students who will fit the Owen culture and make an impact on our program, so don’t pretend to be something you’re not! Be genuine and let your personality shine through your essays and interviews.


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