Rakesh Saha grew up seeing social and economic inequality in India on a daily basis. He developed a will to help others caught in the mire and was ultimately led to the nonprofit sector.
He began that journey as a volunteer teacher at Make A Difference, one of India’s largest millennial-driven nonprofit organizations helping children in need of care and protection.
Rakesh rose through the ranks quickly and was promoted to director just over a year later. It was then that an MBA appeared on the horizon.
“Prior to assuming this role, I had limited experience in finance and data analytics, and these were essential for me to be effective,” he says. “I realized that to be an effective change agent, I needed to gain a deeper, a more cross-functional understanding of how organizations function.”
He chose Yale School of Management for his MBA as he says he connected with their mission, that leadership is essential for all aspects of business and society.
The Yale MBA has transformed his career—later this year he will be joining Bridgewater Associates, a macro hedge fund, in a management role, successfully completing the MBA triple jump and landing a job in the US.
It’s an intentional step away from the nonprofit sector, he explains, for a few years. His ultimate goal is to pivot back to the industry with an enhanced skill set and stronger experience.
BusinessBecause caught up with Rakesh to find out more.
Why did Yale stand out for you compared to other schools?
What truly sets Yale apart is the integrated curriculum which views complex organizational issues through the perspective of various stakeholders—who often have conflicting priorities—and not through the myopic lens of functional divisions in organizations.
The School of Management is also tightly integrated with all other schools at Yale, giving students access to an incredible range of resources and hence allowing them to customize their learning experiences to meet their unique goals.
What does Yale look for in its MBA candidates?
A major factor that influences the learning experience at Yale is the diversity of the peer group. I attribute most of my growth and development during my MBA to the rich discussions in the classroom and during group projects with my peers.
So, naturally, Yale looks for candidates who bring this diversity of perspective to the classroom.
Yale also looks for candidates who have leadership experiences in solving issues in business or their communities. Candidates who have taken on big challenges, stepped outside their comfort zone, and have grown as a result of these experiences.
Finally, Yale looks for candidates who have some understanding of what they want to achieve in life and who have shown some thoughtfulness, intention, and directionality in the major decisions they have taken.
How have you benefitted from the Yale MBA?
At Yale, I took courses on corporate finance, economics, and accounting which enabled me to develop financial models for organizations. I took several courses on statistics and data analytics which have helped me get comfortable with big data.
I also got the opportunity to leverage my prior experience and implement these skills while serving as a student consultant and advisor to local nonprofit startups as a part of Yale’s Tsai Center for Innovative Thinking.
The Yale MBA program not only helped me gain these transferrable skills and experiences, but also gave me access to employers and alumni across a range of industries.
Where does your passion for nonprofit work come from?
Growing up in India, I was exposed to economic and social inequities almost every day. So, I have always felt this pull towards the nonprofit sector and working towards improving the quality of life for vulnerable people.
While working in this sector I realized that drive and good intentions are not enough. To bring about scalable and sustainable change, one also needs a range of functional skills to understand and quantify problems, design and develop solutions, and build organizational mechanisms to deliver these solutions.