Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Pankhuri Mishra, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad

Pankhuri Mishra             

Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad   

“An inquisitive thoughtful individual with a penchant for knowing more about people, society, and the world.”

Hometown: New Delhi

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I love creative writing. My first poem was about my childhood pet dog, narrating a situation where my pet dog, in a very humorous manner, deceived me!

Undergraduate School and Major: Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi (undergraduate) & University of Southampton, UK (postgraduate)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Associate (Program Management), Pratham Education Foundation

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of IIM Ahmedabad’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? IIM Ahmedabad is the most well-known business school in the country, to the extent that for a long time I associated MBA with the iconic Louis Kahn Plaza of IIM Ahmedabad. IIM Ahmedabad’s alumni can be found at the top of every field today – be it entrepreneurship, politics, corporates, or civil society. Having such a well-rounded alumni body was an attractive proposition because that meant I could choose to enter any industry and be almost certain that I would find a mentor from the same alma mater!

What has been your favorite course or extracurricular activity at IIM Ahmedabad? What has been the most important lesson that you have learned from it? My favorite academic course has to be “Firms and Markets” – a microeconomics core course. My biggest takeaway from it has been a philosophical one – don’t let past (bad) decisions affect objective decision making for the past or future. As Prof Vishwanath Pingali made us swore “Thou shalt ignore sunk cost in decision making!” And I hope to apply this wisdom forever in my life.

Extracurricular activities make for an amazing stressbuster here at PGPX IIMA! My favorite has been the musical and stand-up nights that are organized periodically. I think there is no better way to really know your batchmates than to see them doing the things they are passionate about. These events are amazing platforms that bring the countless talents and passions together!

What makes Ahmedabad such a great place to earn an MBA?  IIM Ahmedabad makes sure that you become worthy of being called its alumni. The institute has an intense focus on academics and has put structures in place that enable you to excel and push ahead. The passion, commitment, and knowledge of the professors is mind-blowing; every day at IIMA is fast-paced and an intellectually rich experience. This, combined with the calmness of the city itself makes for a perfect recipe – there’s nothing a bicycle ride at the Sabarmati riverfront can’t fix!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest accomplishment has been the recognition of my passion, working through the challenges it poses and making it a sustainable career choice.

My field (social development sector) does not offer the materialistic comforts that other industries do: there is a lower compensation; and often has intensive, uncomfortable travel to remote locations. It also poses a risk of being emotionally overwhelmed due an everyday close encounter with the various social and economic challenges. While entering the sector may take just passion, remaining in it for the long term takes an active choice for the profession.

I too experienced these challenges and, at times, thought about moving out of the sector. In such times, I kept my composure and patience. Through many conversations with various stakeholders, (e.g. government officers, partners, and beneficiaries themselves) I changed my perspective to start looking at the issues as opportunities to solve important problems. I approached the work from a more professional perspective, detaching myself from the outcomes. This thought process led to a lot of clarity; it has made me understand that working in the sector needs a balance of passion and professionalism. The way I navigated and improvised my journey is my biggest achievement to date.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: In the cohort, I am one of the very few people who come from the social development sector. Through my ability to build deep conversations while exploring nuances, I am able to find common ground to relate different sectors, which is aiding peer-learning. For example, coming from a sector with a significantly larger proportion of women, I am able to share new perspectives on team building with my peers who come from traditional industries which rank low on women representation. Another example relates to a marketing class where my sector’s experience with low-cost campaigns in rural India for a product/service positioning can be considered as an innovative solution for a corporation’s new product. I consider contributing to peer-learning with unique perspectives one of my biggest accomplishments as an MBA student. At the same time, I feel very fortunate to be a part of a diverse cohort that is helping me expand my perspectives as well.

What is your class’s favorite hangout away from school? Why do you gather there? Our favourite hangout inside the campus is the Kamla’s café, run by amazing women who offer multiple choices of delectable Gujrati food every day. It feels like your mom’s kitchen – we often go here for nutritious and tasty food and to drown away the day’s stress with a generous serving of  ‘Dal Baati!’

Outside of campus, the favourite hangouts are the lakes and the riverfront that offer a tranquil environment. Ahmedabad is also a foodie’s haven and the street food market just outside of the heritage campus is yet another favourite among the students.

What do you hope to do after graduation? In the past five years of my work experience, I have built strong foundations and in-depth understanding of the development sector. I envision the next five years as building on this knowledge to contribute in a bigger way to the sector. In the long run, I aim to get back into the development sector, as a professional or as an entrepreneur, with solutions addressing the present issues that the sector faces.

An MBA at this stage in my career is helping me to go-in depth into understanding the nuances of the challenges and is equipping me with the skills that will aid the execution of potential solutions. Immediately after the completion of an MBA, I would like to get into the fields that will smoothen my transition back to the development sector at higher levels; such as social impact consulting or perhaps VC firms for social impact. Working in these firms should give me exposure to a competitive and efficient style of working.

The long-term goal of getting back to the development sector is with the desire to make it more competitive and at par with other industries. Many professionals who have undergone a similar journey post their MBA are my inspiration in this regard, and I hope to have a similar career trajectory.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into IIM Ahmedabad? Applicants to IIM Ahmedabad should probe their goals and understand the driving forces that make their perspectives unique.  They should remember that being authentic is the best way to be consistent in thought processes and that makes any interview very easy! In my experience, the admissions committee values authenticity and expects some clarity and a logical connection to where you are and where you want to go.


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