2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Anushikha Sharma, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Anushikha Sharma

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

“Unwavering optimist, with a bias for action. Fueled by people, data, poetry, and masala chai.” 

Hometown: New Delhi, India.

Fun fact about yourself: I’ve never lived in the same apartment for more than two years. My father was a serving officer in the Indian Navy so we moved frequently. After immigrating to the US at the age of 18, I’ve studied and worked in five different cities. My background is an amalgamation of all the places I’ve lived and the people I’ve met along the way.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bucknell University, May 2019. BSc. Computer Science Engineering & BA Women’s and Gender Studies

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Software Engineer, Moody’s Analytics (New York City)

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? Product Manager Intern, Microsoft – Power Apps (Redmond Campus)

Where will you be working after graduation? Product Manager II, Microsoft – Power Apps (Redmond Campus).

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • President, Tepper’s Graduate Business Association (Jan 2023-Dec-2023)
    • Elected by full-time MBA cohort, the GBA oversees all Tepper clubs and organizations, and provides MBA-wide programming, and engages in student advocacy.
  • McGowan Fellowship 2024 (for Philanthropy in Business)
    • A prestigious 1-year fellowship program, the McGowan Scholarship empowers one 2nd-year MBA students from 10 top-tier universities to become the next generation of impactful leaders. This competitive fellowship offers 2nd-year full-tuition scholarship and focuses on leadership training through a social impact project. Graduates join a powerful alumni network, forever bound by their commitment to positive change
  • Other Fellowships: ROMBA Fellowship, Forte Fellowship
  • Accelerate Leadership Center Peer Communications Coach
  • Graduate Student Teaching Assistant: Executive Communications
  • Advisory Board, Business and Technology Club
  • Memberships: Net Impact (sustainability-focused), Out & Allied, Tepper Women in Business, South Asian Student Association, Tepper Outdoor Adventure Club

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? Leading the Tepper Graduate Business Association (GBA) as President stands as my proudest achievement in business school. The competitive election process was both a challenge and a privilege, and the trust of my peers fueled my commitment to serve their interests.

My focus was threefold: advocacy, transparency, and culture. I spearheaded initiatives like quarterly town halls and feedback mechanisms to bridge the gap between students and the administration. The “GBA Rundown” newsletter kept everyone informed about MBA programming and fostered a sense of community.

Promoting diversity and inclusion was a core priority. We supported affinity groups through events and actively championed DE&I initiatives. We also strengthened ties with alumni, leveraging their network for career development and mentorship opportunities.

This experience honed my leadership skills, communication abilities, and capacity to build a strong, collaborative team. It instilled in me the importance of active listening, responsiveness, and building trust. Leading the GBA was a rewarding journey that has significantly impacted my business school experience.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Very early in my career, I faced a defining challenge. For six months, I had worked tirelessly alongside my team to release a major feature, but the software was riddled with bugs. Despite immense pressure to meet the deadline, I knew releasing a flawed product would harm thousands of users.

When I raised concerns, colleagues who were facing potential career repercussions if the deadline slipped, dismissed me as “out of line.” My technical lead even reprimanded me, and I was afraid of jeopardizing my career growth. However, the do-nothing course of action deeply troubled me and I kept pushing for quality improvements and a delayed release. Despite presenting data evidence, I faced constant pushback, with members of my team questioning my judgment and experience.

Slowly, through open dialogue and collaboration, I began to build support. My data-driven arguments and passion for user experience eventually resonated with others. We secured a delayed release and implemented significant quality improvements.

This experience had the most profound impact on my career journey and instilled a deep sense of pride in me for having spoken up and championing user-centric solutions. These values continue to guide my career journey.

Why did you choose this business school? Tepper was one of my top choices because it stands at the unique intersection of technology, innovation, and operations. But what really drew me to the program was its culture. Tepper is a place where people care about you. Every interaction – students, alumni, faculty, administrators – was grounded in genuine connection and empowerment. As I get ready to graduate, this still stands true. The Tepper network will go out of their way to help you become the best version of yourself, personally and professionally.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Taya Cohen is my favorite MBA professor. Professor Cohen teaches Managing People and Teams, which is part of our core curriculum during the first semester. Her expertise in organizational behavior is evident in her data-driven and research-grounded lectures. She makes the classroom a space for illuminating discussions, where diverse perspectives are welcomed and thoughtfully challenged. Professor Cohen’s dedication extends beyond the classroom, providing invaluable mentorship that has made her a significant source of inspiration for me at Tepper.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? Negotiations, taught by Professor Catherine Shea, was my favorite course during the MBA. It is an exercise in effective communication, empathy-driven leadership, and human-psychology. Before this class, the very idea of negotiating made me uncomfortable. It felt like a zero-sum game, where someone had to lose for the other to win. This course empowered me to consistently create value in negotiations, ensuring all parties benefit from the process.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back, one area I would have prioritized differently is actively developing a hands-on creative skill. Carnegie Mellon is an abundance of opportunities and has a wide variety of courses in flamework, stained glass painting, and black-and-white photography. I’m going to spend a majority of my career working with software-based technologies so this would have been an ideal time to explore a different form of expression and develop manual dexterity.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? Pittsburgh has a charming and diverse landscape. Nestled amongst three rivers, the city has stunning scenery, unique neighborhoods, and world-class museums. I’ve appreciated the serenity of local hiking and kayaking, and enjoyed Broadway’s Hadestown and craft beer in our buzzing downtown. Calling Pittsburgh my home for two years has been a privilege, and I hope to carry the Yinzer kindness everywhere I go.

What surprised you the most about business school? 75% of the learning happens outside the classroom. Through student leadership roles, local community engagement, informal interactions with my classmates, case competitions, and speakers, I’ve been able to expand my knowledge base, hone interpersonal skills, and cultivate a global perspective.

One example of this is the McGowan Fellowship Social Impact project, where my cohort partnered with two Scranton, PA non-profits focused on poverty alleviation to improve their volunteer sourcing and retention pipeline. The experience opened my eyes to the power of collaborative problem-solving in addressing complex social issues. Witnessing the impact of these organizations firsthand has solidified my desire to leverage my business school knowledge and network to drive positive social change.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate and friend I admire the most is Mullin Weerakoon. Mullin was on my GBA team as a Student Engagement Officer and we collaborated closely on developing impactful quarterly townhalls and gathering cohort-wide feedback on various aspects of the MBA program. Mullin’s creativity and work ethic is outstanding, and he consistently demonstrates unwavering reliability. Mullin also embodies genuine care for his classmates. He generously offers his time for mock interviews and communication coaching during the recruitment season. Mullin’s clarity and dedication have always inspired me deeply.

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

1. Become a Chief Sustainability Officer at a technology firm, transforming data center sustainability. There is growing innovation in minimizing emissions and setting the standard for responsible data center practices; I want to lead technology companies into becoming environmental leaders through analytics-driven sustainability initiatives.

2. Launch a non-profit organization with my sister to promote financial literacy, especially for women within underserved communities. This organization will equip individuals with the tools and knowledge to make informed financial decisions, build long-term security, and break the cycle of poverty.

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

“One word: Leadership. Anushikha knows how to lead. She exudes calm and confidence in any situation, whether that’s in conversations with the Dean or in organizing school-wide events. Through leadership, Anushikha was able to effectively bring a diverse group of students together to create a Tepper community that helped each other in the classroom and with career outcomes. Her leadership made a tremendous difference to the Tepper culture!”

C. Tad Brinkerhoff
Assistant Dean, Tepper Masters Programs

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