2023 MBA To Watch: Aakash Srinivasan, University of Maryland (Smith)

Aakash Srinivasan

University of Maryland, Robert H. Smith Business School

”Ardent data-centric individual, grateful for the journey and strongly driven to giving back!”

Hometown: Pune, Maharashtra, India.

Fun fact about yourself: Trained animal rescuer; I had my first website up and running when I was 17.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor’s in Technology at Sastra University, India.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Software Engineer at Norton LifeLock.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? I interned as a Senior Product Manager for Tech at Amazon in Seattle.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining Amazon as a Senior Product Manager – Tech in the Bay Area.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Smith Fellow (2021-2023)
  • ROMBA Fellow (2021-2023)
  • Leadership Fellow (2022-2023)
  • UMD Smith Student Ambassador (2022-2023)
  • Vice President of Marketing, Marketing and Communications Club (2022-2023)
  • Vice President of Finance, Smith Pride Alliance Club (2022-2023)
  • Graduate Assistant, Smith Information Technology Center (2021-2022)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Becoming a Leadership Fellow was one of the highlights of my MBA journey. I had always admired the achievements of past leadership fellows, who tirelessly aided my cohort in navigating the academic rigors and job search process. The leadership fellows readily took time out of their schedule to conduct workshops and case interview preps, honing our skills for success. As a leadership fellow, I had the opportunity to give back by sharing insights and practices that worked for me and help first-year students with any questions that they had.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Over the summer, working with Amazon as a Senior Product Manager, I was able to successfully identify customer safety issues and propose business solutions. I was able to own the project, dive deep in terms of defining scope, evaluate tradeoffs, and list solutions. The role required me to be a self-starter and being in the business school for a year helped me strengthen my skills in market research competencies, critical thinking, and leadership. After successfully defending my feature proposal, the project was sanctioned with a release date of 2025.

Why did you choose this business school? While schools evaluate a candidate’s profile, I believe it is equally important for students to analyze if the school is a good fit for them. One thing that impressed me the most was the strength and supportiveness of the community at UMD Smith. When I reached out to Smith alumni during my application process, I could feel the profound affiliation they had with the school. The MBA class at Smith is very diverse and it was inspiring to learn about everyone’s journey and develop robust connections. Being at Smith, I was able to sense the strong community not only among students but also the among professors, administrators, and the staff at career center offices.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Dr. Judy Frels is a marketing genius and has her own experiential way of teaching concepts. I had the privilege of taking her Marketing Management course, where she kept the class engaged with case studies. Outside the classroom, she was readily available to conduct mock interviews and offer guidance on tackling marketing case questions. As a board member of the Marketing Club, I was able to witness her going above and beyond to get involved in club activities, and she generously extended her connections to organize networking sessions.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course during my MBA was Digital Marketing. This course gave me valuable insights on search engine optimization and advertiser bids. At the same time, we deep dived into the recommendation systems used by streaming services. The course also taught us to use tools to analyze site usage metrics and how to effectively conduct experiment designs. I found this course particularly interesting as I have had challenges in the past promoting my startup and measuring the click through rates effectively. I was able to promptly incorporate the design techniques during my time at Amazon, where I was able to validate the proposed feature from 50,000 Amazon customers.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? While the Smith School of Business hosts cultural events, workshops, and trivia nights like any other school, my favorite tradition was the community lunches that happen every month. Often, our cohort gets occupied with the coursework and we find it difficult to catch up outside our classrooms. The community lunches take place between classes and provides us with a great opportunity time to discuss courses and to meet our friends who don’t share electives.

One of the best things about attending the community lunches is that the faculty, staff, and the assistant deans also attend and engage with students. During one such gathering, I had an insightful conversation with my strategic management professor who shared his experiences of working in Brazil and how culture brings in a unique dimension to the business world! I wouldn’t have had the chance to connect with professors outside of classrooms and these luncheons helped we unwind and catch up with my cohort!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back, I wish I had participated more in case competitions during my time at UMD Smith. I had a chance to participate in two cases competitions and it was a humbling experience. Interacting with my teammates, I have heard some incredible ideas bouncing off the wall, and one of my team members even took the initiative to pursue the idea beyond the competition!

I believe that solving cases helps us to apply concepts and makes it a hands-on experience. Case competitions provide us with an excellent opportunity to interact and team up with MBA candidates from other schools and widen our network. I teamed up with other MBAs from the DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia) area, worked on some interesting cases and shared my MBA journey, resulting in lifelong connections.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about UMD Smith is that its small cohort sizes is unfavorable. I had a chance to talk to Smith Alumni and they spoke about how the program fosters diversity and inclusivity amongst its students. Upon joining my own class, I immediately noticed the diverse backgrounds of my peers. This diversity greatly enriched our class discussions, as each student was able to bring in unique perspectives for the same problem. As a result, the learning curve for everyone was steep and rewarding. Seeking external feedback on my technical cases, I received invaluable insights from my classmates who were pursuing different career paths. Throughout the MBA program, the cohort consistently supported and helped each other as they navigated through the program. Having experienced the Smith culture, I wouldn’t exchange my time there for anything else and, I know for a fact that I have built long lasting relationships. Terps helping terps!

What surprised you the most about business school? One thing that surprised me the most about business school was the amount of hands-on learning that was incorporated with the coursework. As MBAs, we were given the opportunity to apply class concepts to real world business problems.

Working on case studies and simulations, I gained practical experience which helped me have an experiential learning. As a result, I felt confident while stepping out for my summer internship, where I was able to apply concepts and methods from my classroom leanings and positively contribute to the organization during my limited time there.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Having a clear understanding of why I wanted to do an MBA helped me immensely. It proved to be invaluable during my application process as it enabled me to tell my story effectively. My prior experience working with product managers and directors exposed gaps in my skill sets, and I aimed to address these gaps through the MBA program. I constantly reached out to MBA alums from different schools and wanted to learn more about their journey and understand how they were able to leverage their cross functional skills after their MBA. Having clarity on what skills I wanted to focus and practice during the MBA not only benefited me during the application process, but also enabled me to effectively utilize my time at Smith.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I am inspired by all my MBA classmates as they bring in diverse skillsets and have become a huge part of my journey. Having said that, I first met my classmate Traighe Rouse while volunteering for the Good Neighbor Day and I was enthused by his authenticity. Business leaders are skilled at tailoring their style to their audience and I am inspired by Traighe’s self-awareness. Having worked with him in breakout sessions, I observed his high emotional quotient and often engaged in introspection. I recall Traighe mentioning that the events of his life have made him authentic, and I look forward to implementing reflection to become an authentic leader.

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

  1. Launch a Payments gateway system.
  2. To open an Animal shelter in every city that I have lived.

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

“I had the pleasure of teaching Aakash in the MBA leadership class and working with him as a student leader and graduate assistant for our IT department. Aakash impressed me with his curiosity and dedication to learning in our leadership course, often speaking with me about cases and exercises after class. His peers noted his contributions in this course as well, noting that he was “reliable when it came to getting the work done, constantly pushing the team to improve.” His peers noted that he balanced multiple responsibilities well, often taking on extra work for the team while holding a graduate assistant position and leadership roles in clubs.

Akash has made remarkable contributions to our community through his active involvement in several student clubs and organizations. He served as Vice President of Marketing for the Marketing and Communications Club, where he has shown exceptional leadership skills and the ability to work collaboratively with others. He also demonstrated his dedication to promoting diversity and inclusion through his role as Vice President of Finance for the Smith Pride Alliance Club.

In addition to his academic success and leadership roles, Aakash has also served as a UMD Smith Student Ambassador, where he participated in recruiting our next class of MBAs. His outstanding communication skills, dedication to teamwork, and ability to engage with prospective students have made him a valuable asset to the Smith community. Overall, Aakash is an exceptional MBA student who has made significant contributions to the Smith community through his various leadership roles and academic achievements. My interactions with him make me excited for his future career with Amazon as a Senior Product Manager for Tech.”

Nicole Coomber
Assistant Dean, Experiential Learning
Academic Director, General Business Minor
Clinical Professor of Management and Organization


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