Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Surbhi Inani, Cornell University (Johnson)

Surbhi Inani

Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, Cornell University

“I am a tech bro, a goofy nerd, an overprotective sister and a loyal friend.”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: My first five birthdays were each in a different country due to my dad’s jobs in tech across the globe – India, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore and the United States. I was almost born in Doha, Qatar, but my mom insisted on flying to India literally days before my birth.

Undergraduate School and Major: Carnegie Mellon University, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Microsoft Corp., Software Engineer

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Cornell’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The digital technology immersion at Cornell Johnson absolutely showcases the level of commitment and dedication that the Johnson School has toward preparing students for successful careers in the tech space. By learning how to sit at the intersection of business strategy and technology, we can contribute to the improvement of efficiencies and success of products in any market with any target audience. With tech being ingrained in almost all industries and functions of our lives, we can benefit from this immersion run by some of the smartest minds from the industry. In addition, we can take advantage of the vast resources from the High Tech Club to confidently step into our summer internship as the best-prepared team player!

What excites you the most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? After having lived in big metropolitan cities all my life, I am excited to spend two years in a small college town like Ithaca! I look forward to getting to know my classmates and exploring the hiking and kayaking activities around Ithaca together since it will be a new area to explore for most of the class. Having a major city like New York within reach is nice to have too for our urban adventures and connections to major corporations. I love the “choose-your-own adventure” that Ithaca seems to provide.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at Cornell? I am most excited to participate in and contribute to the Women’s Management Council at Cornell Johnson. For one, they promote higher rates of applications from this minority group through conferences and diversity events like Johnson Women in Business. They also partner with organizations like the Forté Foundation to provide women at Johnson with a longstanding network of like-minded people that they can rely on and gain support from in any capacity.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: It would be my role in the data automation pipeline responsible for triaging/categorizing daily customer feedback on audio usage in Windows devices, which was received by my audio data and intelligence team at Microsoft. It is controlled by a problem-mapping algorithm that sorts feedback into issue buckets to be investigated by developers.

Depending on the language used by the user to submit the feedback, it can sometimes be mis-triaged into a wrong bucket. This might result in the user’s issue never being addressed. My Indian ethnicity gave me the sensitivity to recognize triaging issues occurring disproportionately when accents and dialects of non-English users were mistranslated. I led efforts to recalibrate the rules in the automation’s algorithm to account for many words in the audio space that could be translated better to represent the users’ true issues. The impact of this change was especially felt among our Pan-Asia customers. Thus, helping our customers across the globe have the best audio experience with our products has been my greatest accomplishment at work.

What do you hope to do after graduation at this point?  I aim to further make technology a life and work facilitator for a diverse global population of varying needs and abilities. I plan to do this through a product management and business strategy role in a prominent tech space. It has always been my dream to combine my passion for tech with my drive for innovation through a global leadership role where I can contribute to the creation and launch of a variety of products that can literally change lives and allow everyone, regardless of ability level, to live and work on the world stage without bias.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Cornell’s MBA program? Each person who aims to pursue their MBA has a unique story to share with the community about where they come from, what they are passionate about, and how they would like to shape the rest of their life. Cornell Johnson is genuinely interested in learning about each aspiring candidate’s honest story and how the Johnson MBA can launch them toward their goals. So my advice to potential applicants is to bring your full genuine narrative to the admissions committee and never be afraid to showcase your truest self.

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