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Real Humans of the Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2019

Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2019

Vinithra Raveendran, Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2019

Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2019

Vinithra Raveendran, Cornell Johnson MBA Class of 2019

Age: 27

Hometown: Singapore

Undergraduate Institution and Major: National University of Singapore, electrical engineering

Pre-MBA Work Experience: 4 years as a product development engineer in the semiconductor industry

Why business school? Why now? As I progressed in my career, I realized that what I loved most about my job was collaborating with diverse teams to bring innovative product ideas to market. At the same time, I wanted to venture beyond the technical details and better understand the broader challenges in new technology development. How do organizations decide what exactly to build and when to build it? How do they make investment decisions in the R&D space to give end-users what they really need in the future? As I took on a greater range of responsibilities within product development and started interacting more closely with customer-facing teams, these were just some of the questions I began thinking about.

Long term, I want to lead an innovative organization to create and build exciting new products for sustainable, global development. I already had a strong engineering foundation and decided that business school would be the quickest way for me to build the complementary hard and soft skills that were essential to achieving my long-term goal.

Why Cornell Johnson? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
I wanted to attend a smaller school with a tight-knit and collaborative community. I also wanted a program that offered practical experience, where I can apply what I learned in the classroom. Cornell Johnson was a natural fit in both respects.

All the current students and alums I spoke with had very positive things to say about the collaborative spirit within their class. In my experience thus far, I echo their feelings about our community. Ithaca is a college town, and being away from a big city offers students the opportunity to invest more time in building a stronger network within the school.

Secondly, Cornell is a comprehensive university with strengths in multiple fields, including engineering and technology. Given my interest in tech, this was a big draw for me. So far, I’ve not been disappointed. For example, this past semester I had a unique opportunity to work with a PhD student from the Applied Engineering Physics department, to help commercialize a new technology she had developed. Next semester, I’m looking forward to taking the Digital Technology Immersion and working alongside students from the Cornell Information Science program on a company-sponsored project to solve a current business problem the organization is facing.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2019? I love sharing my experiences working in a semiconductor manufacturing plant and am excited to help interested classmates understand the tech industry a little better. I also hope that my prior experiences and continuing passion for tech demonstrate that women can pursue their interests and be successful in this industry.

Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? I love musical theater! I enjoy anything from Broadway classics like Phantom of the Opera to performances by local Musical Improv groups in Singapore!

Post-MBA career interests? I’m interested in exploring the intersection of business and technology, either as a consultant in the technology strategy space or as a product manager for a tech company.

Advice to current prospective applicants:

 –One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? Talk to current students and alums. The website has a lot of information but you can’t really get a good sense for what the school’s values and priorities are, unless you speak with people who are part of the community. You want to know this, not just for crafting a strong application that demonstrates “fit,” but also to assess whether you will thrive in this culture.

  –One thing you would change or do differently? I would recommend visiting the school during the application process and attending Destination Johnson (the admitted student weekend) if you’re accepted. I may not necessarily do this again if I had the opportunity for a do-over, because I was living in Singapore and flying across the globe was not a feasible option for me. (International applicants should therefore not worry if they can’t make the trip!) However, my peers who did attend all gave stellar reviews of their experience. If I lived closer or otherwise had the opportunity to visit, I would absolutely take it! The in-person experience would be invaluable in helping you make the decision on whether you want to attend.

 –Part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it? I can’t say I enjoyed the anxiety of waiting for schools to get back to me on the status of my application. I wish I could’ve skipped this but unfortunately, it’s an inevitable part of the process and something that applicants can’t control. This is particularly stress-inducing in schools that having rolling decisions because you don’t get a definitive date for a response from the admissions committee. My family and friends were the ones who helped me through this by always providing me with positive words of encouragement. I strongly recommend sharing your application experience with your friends and leaning on them for support!

Greatest highlight so far at Cornell Johnson? The entire first semester core curriculum. I can already see many of my classmates being flabbergasted by my idea of a “highlight,” given how jam-packed and fast-paced this semester has been, but the core is truly a bonding experience. It’s something all of us have to get through together, and there is a feeling of accomplishment at the end. I’ve learned so much and worked with peers I might’ve never otherwise worked with, if we didn’t all happen to be in the same core team at Johnson; so this is definitely something I would consider a highlight.

An alternative highlight, one that more of my classmates might agree with, is participating in case competitions. These are fun experiences and often, making it to the final round gives you an opportunity to travel to another school or visit a company and meet peers from other business schools. I would highly recommend participating in at least one case competition; more if you can make time for them!

One thing about Cornell Johnson that you didn’t expect before arriving? How much I’d be walking uphill! The campus is picturesque but a side effect of having a terrain with beautiful gorges is that I have to hike up a small hill every time I need to get to class.

Thing you are most anxious about in your first year? FOMO is very real and always present at business school. There is just so much you could do and not enough hours in the day to do it all. I always question whether I am making the best use of my very limited time at Cornell. Ultimately, I’ve learned to accept that doing everything is practically impossible, but as long as I go in with an open mind and I’m giving my 100 percent in everything I choose to do, I will learn something valuable and that is all I can ask for.

Thing you are most excited about in your first year? Meeting new people! During just this first semester, I’ve gotten to know classmates who used to fly helicopters in the army, who used to help with the resettlement of refugees, and who developed the marketing campaigns for consumer products I’m using! I’m excited to keep uncovering the “hidden talents” and interesting life stories of my incredibly accomplished classmates.

Posted in: MBA Feature, MBA News, News, Real Humans Class of 2019

Schools: Cornell / Johnson

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