Jithesh Ramachandran is one of a growing number of MBA students who want to have greater impact on society. Enrolled in AGSM at UNSW Business School in Sydney, the former technical team lead at IBM is hoping to launch a career with meaning.
An electrical engineer by trade, he broke into a role at Infosys, India’s second largest IT company by revenue, and spent six years as one of the corporation’s technical leads.
In 2010 he transitioned into computer technology giant IBM, where he worked for more than four years across the Asia Pacific region, before beginning his MBA in January this year.
The former community services tutor spent one winter teaching senior citizens computer skills as a volunteer. He will be hoping that an MBA helps him to transition into a career that unlocks greater social and economic value.
Why did you decide to begin an MBA degree?
I had been doing what I love for the past ten years. I am very passionate about technology. But now I want to make a larger impact on society and the economy.
An MBA is transformational in that it provides an insight into all areas of a business. Businesses gain most from hiring MBAs because they can really understand the big picture and drive the implementation of their vision. An MBA gives you both the technical knowledge of running a business as well as the crucial skills of teamwork and building fruitful relationships. These really matter in high-level leadership roles.
What made your business school stand out from the rest?
Not only is AGSM the best business school in Australia but it is also one of the best schools in the world, which offers an international experience. Few top business schools in the world can compete with the exchange program that AGSM offers.
AGSM is a state of the art business school, which has a general management focus, and is relatively easier to get into for the value it provides.
AGSM is also a really great springboard for people like me who are changing careers.
How would you describe the culture at your business school?
At AGSM we have a really collaborative culture. We are all deeply invested in each other’s success. A small cohort of 50 students in the 2016 class really means that all of us are forming deep personal friendships that will stand the test of time.
I have had the pleasure of meeting many alumni, and they are as interested and invested in our success as the faculty are.
Which aspect of the MBA has been the most valuable?
Although I have only been in the MBA program for just one and a half months, it has already been a great transformation.
For three weeks we really focused on “soft” skills. It’s funny that they are called soft because they are really hard to hone. These are skills that really high-level executives struggle with. Business acumen is a given; the soft skills really differentiate.
We are now working on core skills and the technical aspects of a business. This is going to be our focus until September, after which we will move on to electives.
What advice would you give to people who are about to apply to business school?
Many people are probably looking for what AGSM is best for. For them I would say it is really strong for entrepreneurship, consulting and general management.
But the exchange program makes it good for all skills because, for example, if you want the best school for finance, you can just go to NYU Stern on exchange.
With the AGSM exchange, you could be studying in LBS or Wharton for four months. Before deciding on a business school, one has to be clear what one wants from the school, and everyone’s objective of an MBA is different.
You come from an engineering background. Which skills have been most transferable?
An ability to understand technology is really complementary to the business skills you get from an MBA.
It is said that engineers are some of the people who do best in an MBA program. We have really strong analytical skills, and also the math is easier for us.
What are your future career plans?
My goal for an MBA is to make a greater social and economic impact. I really want to get into strategic planning. I would love to be instrumental in growing and flourishing a business. That being the final goal, I have a few options I have to try which will get me there. I like to take every day as it comes, so my current focus is on learning as much as possible.