2023 MBA To Watch: Himanshu Shekhar Ojha, Warwick Business School

Himanshu Shekhar Ojha

Warwick Business School

“A thought leader with an insatiable thirst for learning, writing and disseminating knowledge.”

Hometown: Patna, Bihar (India)

Fun fact about yourself: Whenever I read something new, I try to align it in my mind, with what I already know. When I am unable to create an alignment, I start writing, and in the course of writing I start getting answers to most of my dilemmas.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Undergraduate – Patna University – Bachelor of Arts (Economics Honors)

Graduate School – KJ Somaiya Institute of Management Studies & Research, Mumbai – Post Graduate Diploma in Management (specialization in Human Resource Management)

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school?

Aadhar Housing Finance Limited, Mumbai.

Role – Head of Human Resources and Administration.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2022? In the summer of 2022, I was doing HR Consulting for few companies in the finance sector in India.

Where will you be working after graduation? Not yet decided.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: In India, I mobilized funds (£5,000) from companies active in the rural sector and installed 60 hand pumps in 10 villages in my state Bihar.

In Warwick Business School, I founded the Strategic HR Club.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? In Warwick Business School, I founded the Strategic HR Club and the club organized its first panel-discussion on 15th February, 2023. Senior professionals from leading consulting firms came together to voice their opinions on the Future of Work.

In my cohort, I observed that there was not much awareness about the criticality of people management and the Human Resources (HR) function. In order to spread awareness about the HR function and to educate people about the significance of HR in a hybrid work model, we needed a platform. and the Strategic HR Club fulfilled the role of that platform. This makes me proud of my efforts in conceiving and establishing this club.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? As the Head of HR and Administration at Aadhar Housing Finance Limited (AHFL) in 2016-2017, I led the merger between AHFL and DHFL Vysya. This merger is touted as one of the most difficult mergers in the annals of the non-banking financial services industry in India because the two companies were radically different with respect to culture, demographics, processes and their targets.

The merger required simultaneous interventions in Change Management, Organizational Development, Organization Design and Conflict Management. This merger took a toll on my mental health because of the factions in DFHL Vysya, that opposed this merger, and it took a lot of my self-control, negotiation and communication to create a seamless merged entity.

I used the Competing Values framework to assess the prevailing culture in DHFL Vysya and design the new culture post-merger. Six years following the merger, the merged entity, which used to be a very average performer, continues to grow at a year-on-year rate of 50% in its assets under management (AUM). Prior to the merger it recorded an average rate of growth of only 12% over a five-year period. Big mergers of these kinds are usually facilitated by consulting firms, but in this case I along with my team, designed and executed all the interventions, in totality, individually.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose Warwick Business School because of the diversity in its full-time MBA cohort. There are students from 33 different nationalities in my cohort and the experience of working and interacting with them is unique and irreplaceable. These interactions have opened for me new vistas of thinking and looking at situations. I find myself more equipped to communicate meaningfully with people from very different civilizations that make our cohort a melting pot of different cultures.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Strategy was my favorite course in the MBA because it is both art and a science. It requires analytical thinking as well as creative thinking. Strategy management has different models within it, which is then applied to different companies in different contexts through case studies. The application and analysis of models in individual contexts make Strategy a theoretical and practical framework at the same time. It helped me become more inquisitive, creative and analytical in my thoughts.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event is the Consulting Workshop. In this workshop practicing consultants conduct a two-day workshop that comprises of case studies, simulations, and interviews. The workshop helps in familiarizing candidates with almost every nuance of the consulting industry so that candidates, like me, can take an informed and judicious call about a possible career in the field of consulting. This workshop is both informative and fun.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I would be little more selective in exerting equal efforts in all the modules. I approached each module with the same level of diligence, and I should have done it a little differently. I should have chosen few modules in which I would put relatively more effort than others. This would have helped me in gaining little more traction in terms of depth of knowledge and skills in areas relevant to my interest and career aspirations.

What is the biggest myth about your school? The biggest myth about my school is that it is academic-oriented in the sense that the school encourages focus only on academics. The reality is very different though. The reality is that WBS focuses on creating educated leaders who have been subjected to a plethora of workshops, ranging from personality development to LeadershipPlus.

In my school, there is equal focus on shaping an individual’s personality, helping her transform into empathetic, self-aware, inquisitive and participative leaders that are required in the 21st century. Workshops, Development Centres and Coaching Sessions run parallel and in tandem with academic lectures and this, probably, is the biggest differentiator of WBS.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Coventry is a small town filled with students from across the world. Distances are small, and life’s daily needs including health and entertainment are available easily and readily. Coventry offers the comfort of a small town and the convenience of a big city simultaneously.

What surprised you the most about business school? The fact that it encourages arguments surprises me a lot. I have myself argued intellectually most of the times with professors and it has never happened that they have taken umbrage to it even though, in hindsight, I have found that my arguments were not water tight on a few occasions.

The school fosters dissatisfaction with the status quo and the culture here is that of understanding and inclusivity.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? I shared the links of my articles [around 35] that I have published on LinkedIn in my application process, and this convinced the admission committee that I had something concrete to contribute to the cohort.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Abhi Kumar for his sheer intelligence and for his agility in thinking. At times I have found him thinking two or three steps ahead of the rest of us. His ability to process inputs and transform them into concrete steps in minutes is what I would like to inculcate within myself.

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

1. To get a meaningful role in people practices in a consulting firm of repute.

2. To help firms create synergy between their Strategy and Talent Management.

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

Claire McKeown, MBA Careers Coach, said: “Himanshu has been an enthusiastic member of the cohort, even before his cohort commenced their MBA programme, interacting with his peers and the CareersPlus team over the summer.

“He has a wealth and breadth of experience that he is always willing to share in both small and large groups, which can be of great benefit to his MBA colleagues. At the same time, he tries to apply his MBA learning whenever he can.

“Himanshu demonstrates his alignment with the WBS values of curiosity, openness, restlessness and excellence on a regular basis; asking questions, striving to do his best in all areas of his MBA, and not being afraid to challenge assumptions and the perspectives of others.

“His focus on people is clear, whether it’s one of his articles on diversity and inclusion, hearing his plans for upcoming topics to consider in the Strategic HR Club, or his gratitude towards and compassion for facilitators delivering workshops and events for the cohort.”



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