Attracted by the one year program format, an international network, a focus on manufacturing and the reputation attached to a government-funded school, he relocated from India to join Italy’s MIP Politecnico di Milano.
It’s a decision which immediately paid off. Profiting from MIP’s partnership with leadership network the World of Business Ideas (WOBI), he worked as an aide at the WOBI World Business Forum where he met and spoke with Apple’s founder Steve Wozniak and Chris Gardner, whose rags to riches story was dramatized by the Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness; a movie which Chris hasn’t yet seen.
At MIP, Varun also gained first-hand experience of entrepreneurship, developing an operating model and marketing strategy for replacement driver service Driver2Home.
After graduating last year, the former engineer went through eight rounds of interviews before landing a job at Fortune 500 software manufacturer SanDisk in a startup operation in Malaysia. Since then, he’s developed SanDisk regionally and as a strategic account manager is responsible for business worth over $120 million each quarter.
Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?
I was at a formative stage in my career and I knew that just an engineering qualification was not enough to progress. Going for an MBA would help me complement my technical skills with managerial skills and an understanding of business processes.
Why did you choose to study at MIP in particular?
When I was looking at business schools, my first step was to cross out the US; the 24 month duration of MBA programs in the US was too long. I knew I wanted to apply for a school in Europe, and a government-funded school as they are more trusted and reputed.
MIP is one of the best schools in Europe. And offers business knowledge taught by people actually practicing business. I’ve always been keen to work in the manufacturing industry, and MIP is the best environment to learn more about finance and operations related to manufacturing.
How did you profit from MIP’s partnership with WOBI?
Working as an aid at the WOBI World Business Forum, I got to meet speakers like Steve Wozniak and Chris Gardner personally, and learn from their experience.
Such insight helped me to mold my brain to think like a leader and to be successful in business. And showed me how determination and motivation can help you to achieve goals which look unachievable.
What did you gain from your experience working with Driver2Home?
Driver2Home showed us how to start things from scratch, and practically implement our business knowledge.
The startups founders had the idea but lacked business knowledge, so we helped them to understand the business model, modify it according to the local market needs and then develop the marketing strategy, using all of the learnings from the MBA.
Why do you think so many engineers go on to take MBAs?
Technical advancement is directly related to business development. As much as we may innovate, until we develop a market or a business, there is no use for any innovation.
Engineers often go for an MBA to change the field of their work or industry. And for many, it’s necessary to pursue an MBA in order to get a promotion into a managerial position.
What should applicants think about when deciding to do an MBA?
Choose a school with a unique selling point. For example, MIP has a history of putting the best people into the manufacturing industry, and more recently, consulting.
And be ready to study hard and party harder! You’ll learn plenty of things outside the classroom. So socializing and building a network is key.