Before an MBA at IESE Business School in Barcelona, Ankit Sawhney built a career at Google. The company is a graduate’s dream, enveloped by creativity and innovation—this year Google appeared on the list of top 50 companies where creatives want to work, for the sixth year in a row.
For Ankit, his foray into the world of big tech was his way of getting into business. After graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Delhi, he began working in Google’s Gurgaon office, in India, as an associate account strategist—he then moved to Sydney, Australia, before returning to India to work as an analytical lead.
So, after four years at the company, why did he leave?
“I was curious to learn more about business in general, and about other industries,” he says. “Google was the only company I had ever worked at, and I wanted to know what else was out there.”
An MBA was the ideal solution. While growing up, Ankit lived in six different cities and went to four different high schools—it made sense to look for a program that reflected his multicultural upbringing. That’s why the IESE MBA prevailed.
“The international atmosphere was unmatched at IESE,” Ankit says. “When you have so many people in the classroom from different backgrounds, it really makes the experience more exciting.”
What I wanted from the MBA
Ankit wanted to have smarter conversations. In his role at Google he felt he wasn’t experienced enough and so couldn’t partake in more intellectual discussions about business.
IESE’s international diversity and case-study method offered Ankit the best chance to gain the rounded business knowledge he required.
"The format of the IESE MBA really appealed to me a lot,” he adds. “When you go to class, it’s not really a lecture but more like a discussion or team meeting.”
In fact, the school prides itself on its international makeup—85% of students are from an International background, with the 2019 class hailing from 50 different nationalities.
“You can be studying a case about Latin America and someone from Latin America might say, ‘my family owns a business there’,” Ankit recollects. “That kind of international atmosphere was unmatched.”
How to launch a new career after an MBA
It’s no mean feat beating working at Google, but Ankit managed it when he found a role in Netflix’s Mumbai office after graduating—he’s currently working as a project manager for title operations. The opportunity revealed itself to him thanks to an innovative approach to job searching.
“I literally just opened up my phone and spent all day browsing through my apps just thinking, ‘What are the companies I’m really excited about as a user’?” he explains.
But it wasn’t entirely his mobile that took him to his current career path—he says that IESE’s approach to career services also helped in a big way.
“There were a lot of activities at the school that made you think about what you want to do after the MBA—they really help students to find out where their passions lie,” he asserts.
The school offers personal coaching and mentoring to students to help them figure out their next steps, as well as hosting myriad companies on campus over the course of the academic year.
“After all of the help, I learned that I wanted to be in technology, but I wanted to do something in B2C space, and impact the lives of a lot of people at the same time.”
Working at Netflix
He says that his MBA was a massive help in adjusting to his career at Netflix—and not just because one of the case studies on the MBA focused on Netflix. “An interesting coincidence,” Ankit laughs.
“I started working at Netflix six months ago, after the MBA at IESE,” he adds, “and I immediately saw a difference in how I’m approaching problems.
“I’m part of a global team and my function itself exists in all the offices in Asia, Europe and the US—my MBA has helped me understand different cultures much better, meaning I can adapt much better to my surroundings.”
So what’s the culture at Netflix like?
“The amount of freedom that you get in order to do your daily job is quite significant,” he explains. “But at the same time, the company really holds you accountable, and you have a lot of responsibility to shoulder.
“It almost feels like I’m at a startup, trying to unlock a new market in Asia—but at the same time, we know we have a very solid product.”
Though Ankit relishes his international experiences, he says he always returns to home to find support. “My job now comes with its own set of interesting challenges, and you have to bring your ‘A-game’ every day.
“Even when I went abroad to do my MBA, my family have been a pillar of support—if I ever need advice, I can just pick up the phone and discuss it.”