2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Anirudh Bakshi, Queen’s University (Smith)

Anirudh Bakshi

Smith School of Business at Queen’s University

“Driven by curiosity to learn, fueled by ambition and perseverance to accomplish!”

Hometown: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve been playing tennis since I was three years old and competed nationally during college.

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • Honours BSc in Biomedical Sciences with Minor in Psychology, University of Ottawa
  • MSc in Epidemiology, McGill University

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Accenture Strategy & Consulting, Management Consulting Senior Analyst

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? N/A

Where will you be working after graduation? Kearney, Associate

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: (Include school awards and honors)

  • President, Consulting Club
  • Member, Finance Club
  • Recipient of the Stephen J.R. Smith MBA Scholarship (Top 1%)
  • Winner, HEC Montréal CSR Case Competition (1st place out of 19 teams worldwide)
  • Winner, Fit to Lead Smith Challenge
  • Runners-up, Deloitte-Bank of Canada Case Competition
  • Runners-up, Canadian Olympic Committee Case Competition
  • 3rd place, Alternative Investment Management Association (AIMA) National Case Competition
  • Finalists, National Investment Banking Competition (NIBC)
  • Tutor, Refugee Resettlement Services Kingston (RRSK)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? My proudest moment was winning the HEC Montréal CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) Case Competition, where we secured 1st place out of 19 teams worldwide. This victory was particularly special because it marked the first time Smith had won this competition in 13 years. The experience of winning against all odds, alongside my friends and classmates, was truly amazing. Through three rigorous rounds of competition, we faced off against the top business schools from around the globe, making it an intense and challenging journey. Representing my school on such a stage and ultimately bringing home the victory was the crowning moment for all of us. It not only showcased our hard work and dedication, but also highlighted the collaborative spirit and high caliber of students at Smith, reinforcing our school’s reputation on the global stage. Plus, the winners’ cheque was a nice add-on.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The achievement I am most proud of in my professional career occurred during my tenure as a Management Consulting Senior Analyst at Accenture Strategy and Consulting. In this role, I managed 15 FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and EMA (European Medicines Agency) regulatory applications through meticulous analysis as a consulting epidemiologist. My work strategically facilitated the marketing of new and existing therapies for multinational pharmaceutical firms, ensuring their successful submission. This achievement stands out for me not only because of the significant financial gains it brought to the firms I worked with, but also because of the profound social impact it had. Many of these applications were for conditions or diseases that previously had no existing therapies, meaning our work directly contributed to improving, and potentially saving, the lives of patients around the world. The combination of contributing to both financial success and making a tangible difference in healthcare is why this achievement is the pinnacle of my professional career thus far.

Why did you choose this business school? I chose this business school primarily for its remarkable alumni network, renowned for its generosity and engagement. The alumni’s willingness to invest their time, share their extensive networks, and facilitate job opportunities profoundly influenced my decision. Beyond this, the overall excellence of the program solidified my choice. The administration, faculty, and my peers were all beyond exceptional, contributing to an environment that was not only nurturing but also inspiring. Smith has represented the single best investment of my life, offering unparalleled returns in terms of skill development, career opportunities, and the forging of lifelong friendships. Learning new skills and gaining knowledge that opened doors to career paths I couldn’t have previously imagined, exploring companies, and the wealth of measurable and abundant returns made this experience invaluable. The combination of a supportive alumni network and an outstanding education created an enriching MBA journey, where the focus on student success and community engagement was evident in every aspect.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor was Blair Robertson, who taught “Finance Fundamentals” along with the elective “Corporate Valuation and Mergers and Acquisitions”. What set Professor Robertson apart was not just his deep knowledge of finance and investment banking from his time as a senior practitioner in prestigious financial institutions, but the practical approach he brought to his teaching. The elective course was particularly impactful, as it employed a case-based method that thrust us directly into the complexities of real-world M&A. We were challenged to analyze complex deals in teams, with tight three-hour deadlines to understand the case, perform financial due diligence, and present our recommendations. This hands-on experience was invaluable, simulating the high-pressure environment of financial decision-making and allowing for a holistic understanding of the subject matter. Beyond the structured curriculum, Professor Robertson was exceptionally generous with his time outside the classroom. He went above and beyond to support students in recruitment or those who participated in external case competitions, offering his experience and invaluable advice.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite course during my MBA was the TriColour Venture Fund (TCVF). Being Canada’s first student-advised venture capital fund, this unique course offered an unparalleled experiential learning opportunity. Throughout the course, I engaged directly in the venture capital investment process; from reviewing 35 startups to making an investment recommendation for the investment committee – and everything in between. The practical experience of evaluating real ventures and the chance to invest up to $150,000 in promising companies allowed us to deep dive into the intricacies of venture capital. The course involved conducting a meticulous due diligence process, including face-to-face meetings, pitch presentations, and financial modeling, which concluded in December when we made our recommendations to the Investment Advisory Board. The board, comprised of entrepreneurs, angel investors, and venture capitalists, then thoroughly examined and cross-examined us on our selection of startups; the process culminated in one company acquiring the coveted investment. This approach not only honed my analytical and decision-making skills, but also offered a real-world glimpse into venture capital. The collaboration with Canada’s leading venture capital firms and angel investors, coupled with support from our alumni, made this course an unforgettable and vital part of my MBA experience.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? There are so many great ones, but the .4s stand out as my favourite. Every Thursday (fourth day of the week), all the MBA students go out together to a different bar or restaurant to unwind and socialize in a tradition that was established so long ago (nobody can trace its exact beginnings). This event reflects the strong sense of community and camaraderie that our school fosters. It provided a regular opportunity for classmates to talk about their weeks, share experiences, and support each other, both personally and professionally. Additionally, it highlights the importance of building relationships within the MBA program, showcasing the spirit of unity and mutual support that characterizes our university culture. Here’s to many more .4s!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back over my MBA experience, the one thing I’d have done differently is actively participate in competitive sports for Queen’s University, particularly in tennis and ultimate frisbee. Given my background as an avid player of both sports – and having competed for my previous alma mater in the same at the national stage – I realize I missed a valuable opportunity to contribute to Queen’s athletic prestige and community spirit. Competing for Queen’s would have not only allowed me to continue pursuing my passion for sports, but also potentially brought success and recognition to my university. This involvement would have offered a unique way to engage with the university community outside the academic and professional realms and could have been a fulfilling addition to my MBA experience, combining my love for sports with the desire to excel and contributing to my school’s legacy.

What is the biggest myth about your school?

Myth: The biggest myth about the Smith School of Business is the belief that the 1-year intensive Full-time MBA doesn’t leave enough time to get to know your classmates.

Fact: Contrary to this, the program is designed with numerous opportunities for connection and team building. From day one, the faculty and staff emphasize the importance of community through activities like the Smith Fit to Lead program, which includes outings such as golf, kayaking, cruises, and laser tag. Weekly .4s gatherings offer a relaxed setting to unwind and bond with classmates. Moreover, the program’s structure, with team-based projects accounting for 50% of course grades, necessitates meaningful collaboration and understanding amongst team members. Despite the fast pace, these elements ensure that students form close, lasting connections throughout the year.

What surprised you the most about business school? I thought that most of my classmates would come to Smith with a clear idea of what they wanted to do after the MBA. And while it’s true that there is strong emphasis on Consulting & Finance (as in any B-school), a lot of students used their time to reflect on their personal and professional goals, explore different career paths, and gain inspiration from other students. As someone with a science background, I certainly obtained immense value from this exploration as I learned about careers and companies that I hadn’t heard about, and feel much more prepared and happy with my decision.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Michelle Bourne. She was my teammate for the first six months of the program. Every class we took, we had to work as a team, alongside five other spectacular teammates. What made Michelle special was that, from the moment we met, it seemed as though we had been friends for years. That’s what talking to Michelle felt like for everyone in the cohort. In addition to her kindness and warm personality, she is exceptionally intelligent and hard working – swapping roles between full-time student, teammate and friend, to being a devoted mother and wife. A registered nurse, Michelle successfully transitioned her career into a Clinical Services Manager post-MBA. Undoubtedly, she is the classmate I admire the most.

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

First, I want to establish a non-profit initiative focused on advancing equity in education for individuals from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, and first-generation college students.

Second, I want to launch a CPG startup! I’m a big fan of “How I Built This”, the podcast where entrepreneurs and innovators talk about their startups.

What made Anirudh such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Anirudh’s time at Smith has been marked by his exceptional work ethic, leadership prowess, and unwavering dedication to personal and communal growth. He excelled not only in an academically challenging program but incredibly also found the time to be meaningfully involved in both the Queen’s and Kingston communities. His consistent success in national and international case competitions speaks volumes about his strategic acumen and problem-solving abilities. At the same time, his role as President of the Consulting Club underscores his capacity for effective leadership. Anirudh is a formidable presence with a distinguished background, cultivated through work in the public and private sectors, differentiating himself as an expert in his fields. He is a collaborative and supportive team player. His sincere joy in his teammates’ successes and dedication to supporting his peers during the recruitment process by holding mock interviews and prep sessions exemplify his thoughtful and collaborative spirit.

Throughout his time with us, Anirudh has embodied the essence of the Smith MBA experience—driven by a genuine thirst for knowledge, fueled by a passion for excellence, and anchored by a profound sense of community. As he transitions to the next phase of his journey, his impact will undoubtedly endure, leaving an indelible mark on those fortunate to cross paths with him. In his company, one cannot help but feel the wave of his enthusiasm, curiosity, and good nature. I believe I speak for everyone when I say Anirudh’s presence will be greatly missed, serving as a testament to his person and invaluable contributions.”

Blair Robertson
Adjunct Lecturer


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