Consulting is consistently one of the most popular industry choices for MBA graduates. It’s a lucrative lifestyle, and the work is dynamic, engaging and analytical. Consultants need a full suite of management skills to thrive in the industry—and global firms to provide a landscape of projects to execute. Deloitte is one such global firm that provides myriad opportunities for MBA students and graduates interested in the field. While headquartered in London, England, Deloitte has hundreds of offices around the world. Vinithra Raveendran, Cornell Johnson MBA ’19 and senior consultant at Deloitte, chose the San Francisco office because of her passion for tech. Read on for her story of how an MBA prepared her for the diverse and dynamic work at Deloitte in this edition of Real Humans: Alumni.
Vinithra Raveendran, Cornell Johnson MBA ’19, Senior Consultant at Deloitte
Undergraduate Institution and Major: National University of Singapore, Electrical Engineering
Graduate Business School, Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, MBA’19
Pre-MBA Work Experience: 4 years, Product Development Engineer in the semiconductor industry
Post-MBA Work Experience: 6 months, Consulting
Why did you choose to attend business school?
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. I was curious about the following questions: 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 considered. 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 could apply what I learned in the classroom to solve real-world problems. Cornell Johnson was a natural fit in both respects. Cornell is also a comprehensive university with strengths in multiple fields, including engineering and technology. Given my interest in tech, this was a big draw for me.
What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
My MBA experience has helped me build greater confidence in my ability to lead and has made me more willing to take risks, particularly in situations where problems are ambiguous and outcomes are uncertain.
Some parts of the experience, such as the Immersion program, were actively woven into the curriculum. I participated in the Digital Technology Immersion and had the opportunity to draw on my newly acquired skills in finance and marketing to deliver a meaningful solution for a tech company that posed a fairly ambiguous challenge: to “develop a go-to-market strategy” for their new product offering.
Many other parts of the experience were a product of the Johnson community including peers, faculty, staff and alumni. The community was always receptive to any new ideas I proposed or thoughts I shared, be it in my capacity as a leader of the High Tech Club, as a member of the Women’s Management Council or simply as a teammate on a project.
This constant, unwavering support and encouragement from everyone at Johnson has made me bolder and more willing to take risks, even when successful outcomes may not be guaranteed. I’ve found that ambiguity is the norm and some level of risk-taking is highly valued in consulting. My experience in the Johnson MBA program has helped me not only become comfortable with this, but has also enabled me to thrive in such an environment.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned as a summer associate at Deloitte Consulting. The internship allowed me to experience first-hand what consulting as a career entailed and enabled me to assess whether this career path would help me build the skills necessary to realize my long-term goals. I recognized that as a consultant, I could get exposure to a wide variety of functions within the tech industry and work alongside some of the sharpest people in business. That is primarily what led me to pursue consulting as a full-time role post-MBA.
Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
I decided to return to Deloitte full-time as a senior consultant. The two biggest factors that led me to this decision were the wide range of project opportunities available and the people. The range of opportunities was a function of both the size of the firm and my chosen office location. I requested and was placed in the San Francisco office, where the tech culture is strong and projects in the industry were numerous.
Everyone I met, from fellow senior consultants to partners, came from a variety of interesting backgrounds and shared a common down-to-earth yet passionate view of the work they do. I could see myself working alongside them and enjoying the experience, which is ultimately why I decided to return to the firm full-time.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Talk to friends in my target industries before I even got to campus. Between quitting my job and starting my MBA program, I took some time off to travel and recharge. I also used that time to talk to my friends who worked in consulting or other business-focused roles in tech to get a better understanding of where MBAs fit within their organization and what skills were most valued. I recommend starting early so that you can narrow your focus because once you get to campus, everything looks like it would be a great opportunity, but you simply don’t have enough time to pursue it all.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
Pay more attention to conferences that happen over the summer before school starts. Some of my peers found internship opportunities during the Forté Conference in June and arrived on campus with a summer internship already secured. I suggest talking to your school’s career services team to learn which conferences they recommend.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
As a student interested in consulting, I spent most of my time focusing on case interviews. However, behavioral interviews and forming meaningful connections with alumni during various on-campus events were equally important. Key into what differentiates you, how well you fit in with the culture of the firm and whether your interviewers feel like they would enjoy working with you.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
This is the best advice I was given rather than something I wish I got, but I think it is worth sharing. Seek out diverse mentors to form your own, personal “board of directors.” Not all mentors have to come from your current employer (although they are important to include) and reach out to people both ahead of you and behind you in their career.
These individuals can provide some much-needed advice, could be sounding boards for you to bounce ideas or could offer some unique perspectives as you navigate various career choices. Some of your business school professors could turn out to be excellent long-term mentors!
What’s the best thing about working for your current employer?
The level of autonomy I have in shaping my own career. At Deloitte, the primary way we get staffed on a project is by networking with colleagues doing the type of work we’re interested in doing. While this can be a challenging process when you’re new to the firm and don’t yet have a wide network, it is also a tremendous opportunity to carefully consider what you hope to learn from a project experience and to be selective about which projects to pursue to meet those learning goals.