2023 MBA To Watch: Jeetendra Khilnani, New York University (Stern)

Jeetendra Khilnani

New York University, Stern School of Business

“An Indian who loves Broadway as much as Bollywood. Always “figuring it out”.”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun fact about yourself: I used to be a movie critic!

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Commerce, University of Mumbai – R. A. Podar College of Commerce & Economics

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Finance Controller, Nomura

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? Boston Consulting Group, New York

Where will you be working after graduation? Boston Consulting Group, New York

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

Co-President, Outclass (Stern’s LGBTQ+ organization)

Graduate Ambassador, Office of MBA Admissions

Vice President – International Students, Stern Student Government

Vice President – Corporate Relations, Management Consulting Association

Vice President – International Recruiting, Graduate Finance Association

Vice President – Community, South Asian Business Association at Stern

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m hardly proud of myself – but the most significant business school experience for me was being Co-President of Outclass, Stern’s LGBTQ+ organization. For many reasons – it was a life-altering experience for me, and my first leadership role in my community.

First – I come from India, where the LGBTQ+ experience is far worse than many countries in the west. So, it was doubly important for me to hold this position and share my experiences with students from outside the US. It was heartbreakingly validated when prospective students from different parts of the world talked to me about their experiences, debating if they should take the next step in their journey and be publicly out on their MBA application – and what that meant for their future in the US and back home. I did not have that support when I was applying, and from what I heard, just my name and picture being on the club’s website gave a lot of people assurance of acceptance here in the Stern community.

Second – The pandemic made in-person events challenging for student clubs during the previous two years. Supported by an incredible team, this year we put Outclass back on the map as “the most fun club on campus” with our colorful and gay events. I felt happiest when 52 students from Stern attended the ROMBA 2022 conference, the world’s largest gathering of LGBTQ+ business students and alumni, in-person in Washington D.C, Stern’s largest-ever contingent and the biggest b-school contingent at this year’s conference!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I studied Accounting & Finance for my undergraduate degree, got my CPA license, and became a financial controller. Until that point, I had literally zero exposure to leveraging technology in the accounting / finance field.

At Nomura, I led an automation project that used various machine learning tools and data visualization software like Alteryx and PowerBI to streamline several financial processes and automate various reports, which generated time savings worth four full-time employees. I was leading a team that was composed of individuals from many different functions, requiring a lot of coordination and negotiation with several stakeholders. On day one, I did not know what an ‘SQL query’ was and felt like it was a different language being spoken in the room. But I learned over time and became more proficient, managing my team, getting all requirements signed off and successfully completing this project ahead of schedule.

After this experience, I have come to believe that technology in today’s times is like a language, cutting across industries and sectors, and I’m glad I learned some bits of it before it was too late.

Why did you choose this business school? Many things resonated with me about NYU Stern – but the one that hit home the most was the school’s focus on change. The pandemic literally shut down or changed many industries and businesses forever. In such dynamic environments, Stern’s focus on change with a multitude of experiential and immersive learning courses was, to me, the only right way of doing an MBA in 2023. Add to that Stern’s NYC location, and there’s no way I could turn this down. To my delight, it turned out to be exactly how I imagined it would – Stern’s consulting projects, Endless Frontier Labs and many other opportunities throughout my MBA equipped me to navigate uncharted waters and (hopefully) find success in a rapidly changing business environment!

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Leadership in Organizations. I had no idea what I had signed up for when I enrolled in this course. The cases, the discussions, the arguments, the activities – they all gave me a whole different perspective on leadership in today’s times, along with valuable lessons on diversity, equity and inclusion. I saw different leadership styles and perspectives of my classmates and learned to respectfully approach them no matter how opposing they were to my own thoughts. Besides, the course is focused right where it should be – that leadership today is not about differentiating between the black and the white, it’s all about the gray. Anyone could be a leader if it was the former, but it’s navigating the latter that truly sets good leaders apart from the bad.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Passport Day – without a doubt. Passport Day is Stern’s signature celebration of diversity, where students from around the world represent different countries and cultures through food, games, trivia, artifacts, and performances. I’m so grateful to have been involved in planning this mega-event for Stern.

In 2022, we brought back Passport Day after a pause due to the pandemic. We had a lot of challenges in planning and no frame of reference from the previous MBA class, but the determination was too strong. Everything that could go wrong, went wrong – right up until the last minute when there was a thunder scare, forcing us to move our event indoors and then back outdoors as the weather cleared up. But all’s well that ends well, and with 35 countries represented, I think we all ate wayyyy too much!

P.S. I also got to dance my heart out to a Bollywood performance.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would try to be more comfortable with the fear of missing out. I think I signed up for a lot of things during the Fall 2022 semester (to make the most of my time in the MBA program) and was feeling the heat of it when the semester was coming to a close. I was involved with five different student-run clubs, was a study group leader for first-year MBAs interested in consulting, working three different jobs on campus (and an in-semester internship) – all while preparing for finals and an upcoming trip around the world.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? It’s New York City – I don’t know where to begin. Let’s just say that whatever you want to do, you can do it here. The opportunities are endless, and no matter how crazy you think your interests are, there’s a community for it here.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I think it was just absolute authenticity and nothing else – I was my whole, true self with no edits or filters. I wanted to be in New York, I wanted to be close to Broadway, and I wanted to be surrounded by the kind of smart, kind and collaborative people I had met during my application process. I could tell the difference Stern’s IQ+EQ focus made in the cohort it brought together, and I wanted that more than anything else in my business school. Just describing how and why it resonated with me worked!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Joline Huntemann – I have never seen someone care so much for the community as Joline does. As the Student Government Co-President of the Class of 2023, I have seen Joline navigate sensitive situations with students and administration alike, while keeping the doors open for any and all suggestions that make the Stern experience better. Joline and I experienced a tough situation shortly after we were elected to our respective positions, and the sensitivity and maturity demonstrated by Joline during that time increased my respect for her multifold. Throughout the two years of our MBA, she has been generous with her time and spirit, and never dismisses an opinion without due consideration first. She’s also not afraid to get her hands dirty to move things along and fight for positive change. She’s the most inclusive, most open human I’ve met yet and every day of my life, I will try to be more like her.

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

1. So far, my work experience has been largely in the financial services industry – and I’d first want to work across a bunch of different industries and learn more about them, say media & entertainment, healthcare, technology etc.

2. Do pro-bono consulting in the education space, advising governments to improve access to and quality of education in lower income countries.

What made Jeetendra such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jeetendra during his time at NYU Stern, and he never fails to impress me with his positive attitude, untiring work ethic, and empathy for others. As Co-President of Outclass, Jeetendra consistently planned social events and designed workshops to educate students on how to prepare for the ROMBA conference. He worked closely with the Careers Team to brainstorm ways we can help students strengthen their networking skills and develop a recruiting strategy. Jeetendra also helped students thrive in an uncertain post-pandemic environment and taught his members the importance of engaging in in-person recruiting events. He successfully had 50+ Stern students attend ROMBA and did an amazing job ensuring that students new to the Stern community felt supported and deeply cared for, a prime example of inclusive leadership.

As a career coach, I have seen Jeetendra lead by example, and seek out support for his own career development and professional development. As a first-year MBA student, Jeetendra successfully recruited for both investment banking and consulting – a very rigorous process. I witnessed Jeetendra utilize all of his resources and tirelessly practice his pitch, connect with career mentors, and seek out career coaching. When it came to deciding which path he wanted to choose, he was excited about both, but he ultimately went with consulting and accepted an internship with BCG. In each of our coaching conversations, I saw how thoughtful Jeetendra was about this decision and took the time to identify a career path that aligns with his core values and long-term goals. Jeetendra is someone I recommend students connect with to talk about what it was like to be fully engaged in the recruiting process and share his insights on how to deal with ambiguity and make informed career decisions.

Whether he is working with students one-on-one, collaborating with Stern leadership, or planning and executing large-scale club events, Jeetandra puts his all into everything he does. His warm and approachable personality makes him a go-to resource on campus and someone anyone can turn to for an inclusive perspective. Jeetendra is someone we all can learn from and stands out as one of the brightest in our Stern community.”

Fatim Lelenta
Associate Director of Career Coaching
NYU Stern Office of Career Development


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