Aruni Madara, UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA Class of 2025
Hometown: Sri Lanka
Undergraduate Institution and Major: Mount Carmel College (Affiliated to Bangalore University, India); Bachelor’s in Business Management
Pre-MBA Work Experience (role, company, years): Co-founder and director at We for Humanity, a social enterprise that supports disadvantaged women and children in Sri Lanka, since 2016
Why did you make the decision to attend business school? Why now?
I am a self-taught social entrepreneur. My career is at a point where I need to be a better leader to transform our organization into a sustainable social venture. We dream of widening the social impact of We for Humanity across Sri Lanka. I see a lot of untapped opportunities that we can capitalize on as a social enterprise to serve all of us better. And when our organization becomes scalable, I need to be equipped with the right set of tools to lead it. This is the right time for me to bridge my knowledge and leadership skill gaps with the help of a formal leadership education.
Why did you choose UNC Kenan-Flagler? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend?
My main reason for choosing the school is its commitment to sustainability and community. I was attracted to the dedicated concentration in Sustainable Enterprise, Net Impact Club, and involvement in a range of community services through the MBA Student Association. At the same time, I received this invaluable opportunity to be a Vetter Dean’s Fellow which would expose me to a vast array of leadership development opportunities that will definitely make me a better leader in the nonprofit/NGO sector.
UNC Kenan-Flagler also provides a flexible curriculum. This gives me the opportunity to specialize in one or two sectors and enhance my knowledge in a few other areas as well.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to the Class of 2025?
I am lucky to have had the opportunity to work in multiple industries: nonprofit, research, marketing and family business. I believe my unique experience would allow me to bring a different and new perspective to the table. Most importantly, I am keen to help others who are passionate about launching their own social enterprises in the future with the experiences I have gained through We for Humanity.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself that didn’t get included on your application:
I love journalism and creative writing. I always dreamed about traveling around the world, writing my own novel or being an investigative journalist. Hopefully one day!
Post-MBA career interests:
My dream is to transform We for Humanity into a sustainable social venture impacting many Sri Lankan citizens. At the same time, I would like to be a part of a sustainable NGO or a non-profit in community service, welfare or the sustainable energy sector.
Advice for Current Prospective Applicants:
–What is one thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process?
I would deep dive into my long-term goals, passions and interests as a part of applying to the business school. Being self-aware gives you the opportunity to connect the dots in what UNC Kenan-Flagler has to offer and what we as students want to achieve.
–What is one thing you would change or do differently?
I would have reached out to more students and alumni. They are amazing and super helpful, and getting connected to them prior to joining the campus would be a great opportunity for both career and academics.
–What is one part you would have skipped if you could—and what helped you get through it?
Getting through GMAT was undoubtedly the toughest part of the entire application process for me. It was after a long time since I sat for a competitive test and the rigidity of it made me realize that I needed to be more academically prepared for an MBA. Getting into an effective study routine, taking care of myself during my studies, and the support from my family helped me get through it.
What is your initial impression of the UNC Kenan-Flagler students/culture/community?
They are incredibly supportive and friendly. It’s a small and tight-knit community that I feel going to be a part of my life for many years to come.
What is one thing you have learned about UNC Kenan-Flagler that has surprised you?
The support I received from alumni, staff and friends, starting from my first interaction with the university to inquire about the program to date, is incredible. I have a lengthy list of amazing people to thank for during this short time span.
What is one thing you are most anxious about in your first year?
As a self-learner, I feel anxious about getting into an established nonprofit for an insightful internship. However, I strongly believe that Sustainable Enterprise concentration, Net Impact Club, and a range of other opportunities from the Business School will pivot me into my desired path.
What is one thing you are most excited about in your first year?
Meeting a lot of new people from different backgrounds, sharing our stories and helping each other achieve each other’s goals.