“A seasoned financial technology professional with an adaptive personality and cross-cultural upbringing.”
Hometown: Bangalore, Karnataka – India
Fun Fact About Yourself: In New York, I cycled along the Hudson River from Manhattan to Coney Island over the Brooklyn Bridge. It was one of the most enthralling experiences of my life.
Undergraduate School and Major: Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal – India, Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) in Computer Science & Engineering
Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Senior Associate, JP Morgan Chase & Co.
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The fast-paced, self-driven work culture at Goldman Sachs bolstered my leadership and organizational abilities. Accomplishing complex projects relying on close-knit, small teams gave a fillip to my subject-matter expertise; the company’s 1:1 feedback sessions, 360-review system, and thrust on multi-tasking in high-pressure environments led to a sharp learning curve and took my professional competency to another level. This experience whetted my appetite for more challenging opportunities.
With a belief in my abilities to scale higher, I transitioned to JP Morgan Chase as an Associate. JP Morgan had five times the employees as Goldman Sachs. I was charged with the responsibility to onboard entitlements from scratch for the strategic reconciliations platform. I had to spearhead this delivery by interacting with multiple in house and external vendor teams located globally.
It was clear to me from the start that it would be easier to resolve technical intricacies than to coordinate with the vast number of cross-functional teams. Therefore, I focused on managing my human resources efficiently, building a good rapport, and setting expectations right with a view to gain their wholehearted commitment. I spent the initial weeks meeting different teams over coffee and gauging their ideas to take the assignment forward. I conducted weekly calls and shared weekly progress reports with stakeholders.
I encouraged brainstorming sessions and showed my readiness to feedback. This organized and open-door approach won the confidence of my teammates, and, fostered a renewed spirit of collaboration. Owing to my interpersonal skills, I was able to mitigate tense situations between teams regarding ownership of tasks; this managerial prowess was much appreciated by my seniors. I accelerated results by motivating my colleagues, with different temperaments and hailing from diverse geographies, to excel as a team. I gained heightened visibility upon accomplishing successful, timely go-live of the project.
From this experience, I understood the importance of recognizing the individual strengths of teammates to drive success. Some colleagues were highly self-motivated while some required a nudge every now and then and by analyzing their working style, I was able to take requisite, proactive action. Other significant learning was to realize the importance of astute delegation to extract maximum and quality output from team members. I learned to be reasonable and appreciative and banked on providing constructive feedback to encourage optimum performance.
What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Interacting with my classmates has been a pleasure. Everyone has a quality that is strikingly visible. The best quality that describes my classmates is the hunger to learn. Irrespective of the number of years of professional experience that my classmates are carrying, everyone has demonstrated willingness to work together in teams and to learn.
Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The key factor that led me to choose this program was the collaborative approach of learning that is followed at Katz. The focus on experiential learning encourages students and faculty to have an open interaction that fosters an environment to work together as a team rather than an environment that is just about cutthroat competition. In my professional experience of over a decade, I have experienced both competitive and collaborative environments at the workplace. I personally feel that we learn a lot more and prosper together when we collaborate – whether as teams in a company or as classmates in a B school.
What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I will be eager to participate in the various activities for the Consulting Club and Business Technology Club. I will engage myself in volunteering opportunities that are offered by the PittServices initiative. I am a passionate sportsperson and I look forward to reigniting my passion for the sports field in various intramural activities. I have already played tennis twice at Schenley Park in my first week of orientation at Katz, to allow myself an opportunity to meet people and stay fit during my MBA journey.
What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question that I was asked during the admission process was about one global phenomenon that is impacting the world. The challenge to answer this question was to have a world view of the global developments and events that were impacting the world and to articulate this view with my personal take on it. Thanks to being a regular reader of the Economist magazine over several months prior to my interviews, I was well updated and was able to tackle this challenge during the admission process.
What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Despite having 12+ years of IT experience under my belt, I do not see myself merely as a ‘technology savvy guy’, but cherish experiences and perspectives across the board and find myself cultivating greater curiosity about executive functions in recent times. For this reason, I believe that MBA is the right step ahead. Formal managerial education, experiential projects, and interaction with diverse peers will cultivate nuanced leadership skills and accelerate my career progression by helping me achieve my short-term goal of taking up a Tech-Finance role with a prominent multinational firm. Going forward, through first-hand exposure and learning, I wish to grow with the firm and take up a strategic leadership position in the FinTech domain, contributing to overall organizational and industrial growth as well as enhancing the end-users’ experience.
What other MBA programs did you apply to? Duke University, Indiana University, University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon University, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, & University of Southern California
How did you determine your fit at various schools? Researching b-schools can get overwhelming. Having realized this early on, I did a self-analysis of my professional profile, interests, and career goals. Some of the factors that I prioritized in shortlisting b-schools were location advantage for employment opportunities, cost, and duration of the program, diversity of the classmates, teaching methodology and outside-of-the-classroom clubs and activities offered by the school. I subscribed to U.S. News for one year and gained an edge in researching b-schools. I browsed the websites of the schools thoroughly and found them to be very informative in general. I also attended multiple MBA events such as QS World MBA Tour in Bangalore, where I interacted with the Admissions Committee of various schools – this also helped me get application fee waivers. I researched culture by speaking to current students, alumni, and even my own friends who had either studied or worked in those countries. I spoke to senior colleagues from my current employer, as well as past employers to explore post-MBA roles given my strengths, professional background, and career goals. This helped me to gain clarity on whether a B school was fitting my career goals.
What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? My defining moment came early on in my career when I received an offer from Goldman Sachs after having achieved success in eight rounds of the dreaded Goldman interview process. The fast-paced, self-driven work-culture at Goldman Sachs bolstered my leadership and organizational abilities. Accomplishing complex projects relying on close-knit, small teams gave a fillip to my subject-matter expertise; I was the only member from the Bangalore team to be deployed at Goldman’s headquarters in New York to accomplish a complex assignment. Furthermore, the company’s 1:1 feedback sessions, 360-review system, and thrust on multi-tasking in high-pressure environments led to a sharp learning curve and took my professional competency to another level. This experience whetted my appetite for more challenging opportunities, and, with a belief in my abilities to scale higher, I transitioned to JP Morgan Chase as an Associate.
Where do you see yourself in ten years? In ten years from now, I envision myself evolving into a thought leader in the FinTech domain, consulting public sector bodies and industry seniors in devising and implementing efficient and effective FinTech solutions through effective sharing of managerial perspectives and strategic decision-making crucial to cohesive growth.