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Real Humans of Microsoft: Nandita Jaya, Carnegie Mellon Tepper MBA ’21, Program Manager

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Working in tech necessitates the kind of innovative thinking that not just asks  how, but what, and why. Nandita Jaya found that Carnegie Mellon Tepper broadened her business thought process, enabling her to exceed her goals at the company she wanted to join. In this edition of Real Humans: Alumni, find out how Tepper’s MBA program reframed the way Jaya thought about business.

Nandita Jaya, Carnegie Mellon Tepper MBA ’21, Program Manager at Microsoft

Age: 30
Hometown: Patna, India
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Birla Institute of Technology, Mesra, JH, India | Bachelor of Engineering
Graduate Business School, Graduation Year and Concentration (if applicable): Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business, 2021, Business Technologies, Strategy and Entrepreneurship
Pre-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 5, Infrastructure Technology
Post-MBA Work Experience (years, industry): 1 year, 8 months; Cloud

Why did you choose to attend business school?
Business school was the best gateway to learn about broadening my business thought process. I could work with like-minded people working on a similar development goal and switch my thought process from answering the “how” questions to “what” and “why” questions.

Why Tepper? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
Tepper was famously a “tech school” (it still is). I was trying to stay in an environment where people think about tech innovations right from case studies and in-class conversations to job options and beyond. This focus, and the scholarship, were the major drivers for final selection.

What about your MBA experience prepared you for your current career?
Two salient things: 1. Case studies, where we talked about failures and mistakes as opportunities to learn from and plan ahead for, in our own careers; and 2. Frameworks, that help me ground my thinking by, for example, bringing me back to first principles when I am too caught up in the day-to-day

What was your internship during business school? 
How did that inform your post-MBA career choice? My internship was in the current team, thinking about the overall business proposition of the org and where we can pivot. This experience prioritized working in a startup culture with enough agency and wielding ground to plan. These two have remained my priorities so far.

Why did you choose your current company? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to work?
Microsoft had, hands down, the best employee experience factors, better known as culture (although that’s a widely thrown-around term that I shy from). Growth Mindset is a principle either followed by most orgs or pursued as a goal by most others. I chose my “where to work” on two factors: what kind of products, and hence companies, am I most interested in; and what kind of culture do I want to contribute to strengthening.

How has COVID impacted your industry/career plans?
With COVID and ensuing industry shifts, a lot of decisions have additional parameters added to them by virtue of what’s feasible and infeasible. So far, the biggest thing it has impacted is conversations around hiring, job function exploration, career transitions, etc. Thankfully, this hasn’t changed my plans in a concrete way, but that doesn’t discount the fact that it has for many of us.

Advice to current MBA students:
–One thing you would absolutely do again as part of the job search?
Try to find a fit with different job functions. If you find alignment, well and good. If you don’t, you at least know what your dotted line maps to.

–One thing you would change or do differently?
Start a project or product while I was studying. The level of sophistication of advisory involved is phenomenal (at a university).

–Were there any surprises regarding your current employer’s recruiting process?

–What piece of advice do you wish you had been given during your MBA?
Strive to be a driver wherever you go. There can be multiple types of drivers in the same pool. Find your niche.

Christina Griffith
Christina Griffith is a writer and editor based in Philadelphia. She specializes in covering education, science, and history, and has experience in research and interviews, magazine content, and web content writing.