MBA student Shaswati Panda plans to use management consultancy to help businesses align profit and social responsibility into a common vision. She is one of a growing number of students at top schools eyeing societal impact.
The program at the UK’s Lancaster University Management School is an ideal launch pad: the Mindful Manager module, which pioneers a concept used by Google, Apple, Sony, and Ikea, has been a personal highlight, along with the diversity of the MBA cohort.
Shaswati joined the class from a senior analyst’s role at Accenture, the top consulting firm, in India. Before that she was a senior software engineer at IT services group Tech Mahindra.
What do you value most about your experience at LUMS so far?
Every day at LUMS is an enriching learning experience. The course never allows you to get comfortable. It challenges and pushes you to go beyond your comfort zone and learn something new about oneself.
The class diversity is high, with students from all over the world. And the small cohort size helps me interact with each of them, and explore the cultural differences and varied sector knowledge.
But the most interesting part is the Mindful Manager module, a module unique to LUMS. It helps put complex business demands into perspective and helps me discover and build on my skills before entering the unchartered waters of business.
How will the MBA add value to your career?
With my past experience, as a senior analyst [at Accenture], I had the technical knowledge to help businesses realize and tackle their ever-growing business needs, and the need for going digital. But I needed to understand more than just architecture and technical information.
An MBA will help me look at the technical details in a business way. It will provide me with the knowledge for pitching my ideas, as well as help me hone my people-management skills. It will not only give an understanding of managing finances, but will also provide me with an outlook of the strategies involved in forecasting and crisis-management.
Along with my technical knowledge, a management degree would add credibility, as it aids in visualizing the entire business picture.
What are your tips for getting hired by Accenture?
Accenture, being one of the largest consulting firms, values knowledge, team spirit and innovation.
Knowing your sector, coming equipped with technical knowledge and being ready to learn new technologies, asking the right questions, challenging assumptions, and a passion to be a part of a team that brings a whole world of a difference to its clients, is the best combination to get hired by Accenture.
What makes engineers great MBA candidates?
Engineers look for details, and approach every problem in an analytical and innovative way.
Equipped with technical knowledge, when they approach business problems, they have a 360 degree view of a business and that clearly makes them an asset. They also transform challenges into opportunities and have the ability to bring a fresh perspective. And they are equipped with well-defined structure and precision that gives them an edge in an MBA.
How does the UK’s business climate compare with India’s?
Unlike the UK, India has a federal constitution, which brings diversity in the business climate from state to state. India’s culture is varied and influences the business, as communications may leave some things unsaid, to be explained only by the context of the culture.
While UK businesses have ‘flat hierarchical structures’, Indian businesses are often very hierarchically structured.
But just like UK, India is also taking steps to incorporate more women leaders in the business world and create equal opportunities across all sectors.
Also, innovation and quality are given the utmost importance to accentuate growth. Doing business in any country comes with its challenges but both these countries are excellent places to be part of a business.
What are your career plans post-MBA?
Working as a management consultant has always been my aim. The idea of coming up with innovative solutions to help a business go a notch higher, and transform its operations to make it digitally-enabled and more streamlined has always excited me.
With the increased need for sustainable business practices, the success and the market standing of an organization depends on its ability to respond to competition as well CSR needs. These require them to come up with plans to do their business in terms of sustainable development, and consultancy will provide me with an opportunity to help such businesses align profit and social responsibility into a common vision.