In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, Ruchi Nanda, CBS MBA ’19, talks about how Columbia Business School, New York City and more supported her career progress in technology to land a role at Microsoft.
Ruchi Nanda, CBS MBA ’19, U.S. Capital Markets Sr. Industry Advisor at Microsoft
Hometown: Chicago, IL
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Cornell University, Economics and Cognitive Science
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Columbia Business School, MBA 2019
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 4 years, Big 4 Advisory, risk consulting
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 2.5 years, technology sales, business development
Why did you choose to attend business school?
I had reached a point in my career when I wanted to explore a new career path. I have always been an incorrigible pop culture addict. At that time, I was living in New York City and my commute included walks through Times Square. I saw firsthand how pop culture has a profound impact on people. By attending business school, I was seeking to take this passion to the next level.
Why CBS? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Location, program strength, and post-MBA opportunities influenced my decision of where to attend. I needed to stay in the New York Metro area because my husband was completing his residency in New Jersey. Only a few schools met this need. Columbia’s Media and Technology program has a strong faculty and network in the city. Also, studying in Manhattan would allow me to network at the world’s largest media companies.
What about your CBS MBA experience prepared you for your current career at Microsoft?
I first considered technology as a potential career path when I interned at Twitter. Columbia encourages students to take in-semester internships and offers unique block scheduling. I was able to schedule my classes in a way that allowed me to be at Twitter during most of the week. Also, Columbia has a strong academic program. I use the general management skills I learned as part of the core curriculum every day. I took a variety of specialized electives, enabling me to be a generalist in a variety of subjects. I took courses in financial modeling, supply chain, project finance and entrepreneurship. With this knowledge, I am confident that I can join a new team in a different part of Microsoft.
What was your internship during business school? How did that inform your post-MBA career choice?
I interned with the News Content Partnerships team at Twitter. This team helps news publishers align and co-create content with advertisers on Twitter. I loved my summer internship so much that I continued working with the team during the school year. Twitter’s fast-paced culture is supportive, innovative, and fun. They live #LoveWhereYouWork every day. Because of my internship, I knew I wanted to work in technology post-MBA. I also knew that company culture would be a major factor in where I ended up after graduation.
Why did you choose Microsoft after your CBS MBA? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
Performance and culture were the most important factors in my decision of where to work. I wanted to work at a high performing organization. When I was recruiting, Microsoft was the most valuable company in the world. Microsoft’s vision and culture align with my values and goals. For example, Microsoft believes that everyone should have a growth mindset. My interviewers’ stories demonstrated continuous learning and insatiable curiosity. I was also impressed by Microsoft’s commitment to diversity and inclusion. Microsoft has many women and BIPOC in leadership positions. Now, I am on the board of the mental wellness committee for NY/NJ Women at Microsoft.
How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the commitment of many industries to digital transformation. The shift to remote work was a pervasive, drastic change for our customers. In fact, Microsoft Teams usage has more than doubled since the early days of the pandemic. Yet, remote work is the tip of the iceberg. Industries are experiencing fundamental shifts to deliver positive future outcomes. Technology will play a key role in these shifts, so I see myself staying in technology for a long time.
Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Networking with interesting people in various roles and various industries.
–One thing you would change or do differently?
Spend more time in clubs and social activities on campus.
–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?
There is a strong network of CBS alumni at Microsoft who want to hire more CBS students.
–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Embrace uncertainty, and let your values guide the way.