Meet the MBA Class of 2025: Harshvardhan Joshi, University of Michigan (Ross)

Harshvardhan Joshi

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

“Engineer by education, endurance athlete by passion and sustainability advocate by compassion. Trying to create an impact in the Himalayas.”

Hometown: Vasai, Maharashtra, India

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I’ve climbed the tallest peaks on the earth as a professional mountaineer, but I’m incredibly scared of heights and cannot look down even from a balcony.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Mumbai – Bachelor of Engineering in Information Technology

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Elev8 Expeditions, Co-founder

Michigan Ross is best known for experiential learning programming like MAP, Living Business Leadership Experience, and the Leadership Crisis Challenge. What experiential program interests you the most? Personally, I learn better when I work on real projects rather than theoretical studies. It is a difficult choice to pick one experiential program since Ross has extensive experiential learning opportunities, and most of them are fascinating.

Multidisciplinary Action Projects (MAP) really helps me gain work experience with the chance to experience different things, which is crucial for me as I come with relatively less traditional experience as compared to my peers. This freedom provides me with a safe space to fill my skill gaps or experience various functions. The practical application of my knowledge in a real business setting will step me up for success during my internship and in the future.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Michigan Ross’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Collaborative Culture – How people are invested in each other’s growth.

As a member of various mountaineering expeditions, the most valuable aspect of life is how people trust and support each other in difficult situations. That is the kind of community I want to be a part of – whether undertaking an MBA or climbing in the death zone over 26,000 ft. In all of my research about Michigan Ross, specific values about Ross have stood out to me. This school attracts people who think about purpose and collaboration, two values I live by. Every single alum I reached out to at Ross had something to contribute to my application, journey, and mission of creating an impact.

What course, club, or activity excites you the most at Michigan Ross? The Open Road Program by Business+Impact

Ross MBA has this program where, at the end of summer, students drive across states over the course of five weeks, meeting social entrepreneurs and spending one week on-site in each location to provide a recommendation for a business problem.

I find it really exciting since I love to travel and have a passion to create an impact through business. This is something almost identical to what I’ve been doing in the Himalayas through consulting small outdoor businesses and impact tourism initiatives.

When you think of the Michigan Ross MBA program, what is the first word that comes to mind? Why? #GoBlueGoAnywhere. It does not just have a big alumni network in terms of numbers (56,000 of Ross and 650k+ living U-M) or power (most alumni from a public university in Fortune 1000 C-Suite positions), but a combination of both along with the most important factor – willingness to go far and wide for anyone that says #GoBlue.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I led a multinational team to Mt. Everest on a solar-powered climb.

The only thing tougher than climbing Mt. Everest is getting back down. My job was to get people down safely.

After 23 mountain expeditions, I was chosen as the leader of a team comprising climbers from 14 countries. This involved managing operations and communications between climbers, Sherpa guides, base-camp staff, porters, and government ministries.

Passionate about addressing climate change, I wanted to encourage people to climb sustainably. Many climbers carry generators, depositing carbon on the glaciers. I was committed to a carbon-neutral climb. I created a campaign to showcase that people can climb without a footprint. Collaborating with solar engineers and non-profits, we customized solar power packs and panels to work at 18,000 feet in sub-zero temperatures – which we carried, and later donated – electrifying an off-grid mountain hamlet. Our campaign reached 20M people, inspiring them to make sustainable choices.

Setting out from base camp, we experienced Everest’s most challenging season, marked by a coronavirus outbreak and deadly hurricanes. I had to make decisions for the team’s safety in stressful, high-stakes situations in the death zone, where organs slowly shut down and one cannot think clearly. I balanced leading people through treacherous terrain, encouraging them to give their all but knowing when they were spent, and it was wise to pull back. After a lifetime of preparation and weeks of climbing, people get removed from reality within striking distance of the summit. It took all my influence to convince an under-prepared influential tourist climber from attempting the summit, as that would jeopardize team safety. Despite the challenges, my team summited at 6:20 am on 23-May 2021 and returned without casualties during one of the most hostile seasons in the Himalayas.

What do you hope to do after graduation (at this point)? Having had a transformational journey through my experiences in the Himalayas, I am really passionate about making outdoor experiences accessible to all while enhancing adventure safety, and uplifting the lives of remote mountain communities.

Post-MBA, I plan to take up a general management role to gain some organizational experience before returning to my company Elev8 Expeditions, so that I can transfer my leadership experiences from life and death situations to the business side of things while learning how to run businesses sustainably.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Michigan Ross’s MBA program? Getting into a top MBA program is like climbing a metaphorical mountain. You have to be vulnerable and self-aware. The MBA application process is an extensive journey of introspection. I felt that the past two years were more difficult than climbing any big mountain over ten times or raising a million dollars for the same, but if you ask me today, it was all worth it.

Michigan Ross’s MBA application is one of the most transparent and thoughtful applications among the top MBA programs, reflecting the school’s values at every step. They look at you beyond just numbers. Make the most of the extensive resources available on the website and ad com sessions, and just be yourself. Believe in yourself because self-limiting beliefs are the biggest impediment to success.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.