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Real Humans of MBA Students: Vanderbilt Owen MBA Class of 2023

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vanderbilt mba class of 2023Shweta Ramamurthy, Vanderbilt Owen MBA Class of 2023

Age: 26
Hometown: India
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Nanyang Technological University, Singapore; Electrical & Electronics Engineering
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): PwC Singapore – General Assurance; 4 years

Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
In my 4 years as an auditor, I learned a ton about accounting, financial statement preparation and clientele management. I really wanted to take these skills beyond financial reporting and compliance testing and pivot into corporate finance where I can use these skills for financial analysis and strategic decision making. An MBA seemed like the best way to make this career switch. Also, as I made Assistant Manager at the firm, I realized that I needed to develop my managerial and leadership skills to succeed further in my career.

Why did you choose Vanderbilt Owen? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
As an international student, I was looking for a STEM certified MBA. But amongst all the STEM certified MBAs, Owen stood out to me because of its intimate class size, its people, and its Leadership Development Program.

My class size is around 180, so it is easier to know everyone and form lasting relationships. The professors know us by our first names, making the MBA experience very personable.

When one of the current students took the effort to reach out to me on my personal email to connect me with another current student who could answer a question I had posted on the chat of a virtual event, I knew that this was the kind of helpful and supportive community I wanted to be a part of.

Developing interpersonal skills and EQ were one of the major reasons I wanted to pursue an MBA. So, Owen’s LDP sealed the deal for me.

What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2023?
I think it is the intellectual and cultural diversity that I bring to the table at Owen.

I graduated with a bachelor’s in engineering, but I am a trained professional auditor. So, I have the analytical skills of an engineer and the accounting, clientele management skills of an auditor.

I was born and raised in India but spent my undergraduate and working years in Singapore. So, I am well-versed with both cultures and can easily work with a multicultural team by virtue of my experience of working with diverse teams across the world while I was at PwC.

Tell us a fun fact that didn’t get included on your application:
Every year, I participate in the month long Inktober challenge, to indulge in my love for the arts.

Post-MBA career interests:
I would like to pivot into a strategic finance role. In the long-run, I would like to make the CFO of an MNC someday!

Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
Writing essays. Writing application essays was very self-reflective and it made me realize what exactly I wanted to learn and how exactly I wanted to grow during the 2 years of MBA. I set personal goals, and I hope to spend these 2 years achieving them.

–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would speak to more international students to better prepare for recruiting as an international student.

–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
GMAT re-attempts. I think the GMAT makes up a very small component of the MBA application. Even though my GMAT score was above the average for the schools I was applying to, I kept retaking it just to be on the safer side. Speaking to current students and recruitment managers helped me understand that there’s much more to a candidate than just his/her GMAT score.

What is your initial impression of the Vanderbilt Owen students/culture/community?
Owen has the most helpful and the friendliest people, professors, and staff I have ever come across. There have been plenty of times when I was only casually sharing a problem I was facing, and people just volunteered to help me out. And it’s the case not just with current MBA students, even the MSFs and Owen alums I have interacted with were equally helpful. The professors and staff at Owen know the students by first name and take a genuine interest in their personal and professional lives, thereby living up to their mission statement of providing world class business education on a personal scale.

What is one thing you have learned about Vanderbilt Owen that has surprised you?
I was surprised by how the professors and staff at Owen took a genuine interest in my life. A professor remembered a holiday I told him I was going to take 3-4 months ago, and a member of the admissions team emailed me that she was thinking of me as she tried an Indian delicacy that I had suggested to her. A professor was even willing to go above and beyond and help with recruitment when I approached him for help.

Has the COVID-19 pandemic affected your personal application or admissions process in any way? If so, how?
I personally did not face any difficulty because of COVID-19 except for the issues I was facing with getting a visa appointment in Singapore, but Vanderbilt’s ISSS team helped me with that too. My application and onboarding process was smooth, and I did not have to make any compromises in my MBA because of COVID-19. With the right precautions, classes continue to be in person, and we continue to have all the events that the previous batches had except for the fall treks.

What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
Where I come from, recruitment is a very application driven process and not very networking heavy. So, I was definitely anxious about all the networking I had to do with people of a different culture, for recruiting.

What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
As weird as it may sound, I was actually excited to be back in the classroom! An academic setting is always a safe space to try new things and make mistakes without judgment and serious consequences.

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.