November 2019 will always stick in Rahul Shah’s mind. It’s the month he climbed the next rung in his strategy consulting career, becoming partner for consulting house QVARTZ, just seven years after completing his MBA at Copenhagen Business School (CBS).
His advice to MBAs pursuing a similar career is that “hard work is vital, but if it is also aligned with your passions and you have your feet on the ground then things often work out.”
Rahul credits his education on the MBA with preparing him to lead successfully, with giving him a helicopter view of business, and with the ability when problem solving to see things from multiple perspectives.
Why MBA: Copenhagen Business School
Rahul grew up in India. He spent part of his upbringing with little money for education, and he recalls while studying for his engineering degree that his professors would lend him their textbooks.
He learned from that experience to always be humble. “I have seen in my life that education has made a big difference. I could not have got here without the people who enabled me, and that’s where my roots are. I’m a firm believer that I need to pass it on.”
Before business school Rahul worked in semi-conductor design in California and then tech consulting in India, where he managed over 200 consultants. A craving to learn and grow even further and a desire to enter strategy consulting led him to the MBA, and he picked Copenhagen Business School for multiple reasons.
He explains that although he had options in the US and India, he liked the appeal of the small class size at CBS—his cohort was 41 students—the average work experience was seven-and-a-half years, and it was a one-year course. It was also an international melting pot, with peers coming from all over the world.
Copenhagen Business School’s leadership development program
The Copenhagen MBA immersed Rahul in leadership development. The Leadership Discovery Process (LDP) runs alongside all the modules on the MBA.
Students study cognitive coaching, the functioning of the brain, team dynamics, situational leadership, and human understanding. A series of outdoor activities also allow them to put into practice what they’ve learned in the classroom—this all takes place alongside a mentorship program that connects MBAs with executives working in Scandinavian firms.
Rahul says the LDP was tantamount to him assimilating to professional life in Denmark. “The Nordics want to know you as a person first and then about your skills,” he says.
“I think [the LDP] made a difference because I could articulate who I was and that made a difference in my consulting interview.”
That approach is mimicked in the classroom at CBS. Doing things is not just about delivering results but knowing who you are as a person.
“My whole exposure to sustainability and that different way of living from a work life balance point of view came from CBS.
“When you go through the MBA it not only gives you that business education but also the personal education, so you’re comfortable with yourself and can best deploy your resources under normal or difficult situations—that starts becoming the foundation of who you are as a leader.”
Launching a strategy consulting career after the MBA
Right after graduating, Rahul launched a career as a consultant with QVARTZ, working his way up to partner over the next seven years. In April 2020, Bain & Company acquired QVARTZ, and Rahul became a partner for Bain, where he also co-leads their Nordics Advanced Analytics practice.
The Copenhagen MBA helped him get there in two ways.
It firstly gave him a helicopter view of a business that he didn’t have pre-MBA. He didn’t have the platform or ability to articulate the mechanisms of every area of a business, say finance, accounting, or HR. “That gave me the understanding to see the world from a lot of different lenses,” he explains.
Secondly, though he had been leading people before the MBA, when you go through the MBA you’re given team challenges that you will struggle to solve. To do so, you must learn how to lead a variety of personalities and to maneuver cultural barriers. You can’t do that without first looking inward and learning more about who you are as an individual.
“Before you lead people you need to know how to lead yourself. I wasn’t given that exposure before I did the MBA,” says Rahul.
Since launching a career in Denmark, Rahul hasn’t looked back. He’s since had a daughter and has been blown away by the support for new parents in the workplace in Scandinavia.
“Before I came to Denmark, I had never experienced such a strong community and focus on work life balance. The stability and sustainability are why I like the community so much.
“The Copenhagen MBA has been one of the most defining moments in my career growth so far. Like many, I had the ambition to broaden my career path by re-visiting and adding to my fundamentals of business. The Copenhagen MBA was the right enabler I needed.”