Based on your understanding of the Fuqua culture, how do you see yourself engaging in and contributing to our community outside of the classroom?
People anywhere are always motivated to change through meaningful work done in collaboration with others. Fostering a culture of engagement becomes critical, something that Fuqua encourages, and that I have been practicing in every initiative I have undertaken.
“If your startup doesn’t address a problem, need, or challenge, you should shut it.” I want to say this after being enriched by experiences at Fuqua. In a conversation with alum Aman Khurana, I understood how competitive the startup challenge is. In India, I co-founded ‘Pantry Car’, a restaurant-aggregator platform to deliver food on 12.6k trains running daily, carrying 30 million passengers. We built the functional model and conducted pilot run along several routes. However, our plans to scale were felled by a government regulation, and we shut shop, albeit with lessons. At Duke, I will share this experience that I hope, will inspire my global cohort to embark on an entrepreneurial journey in India, solving a problem that affects millions.
When I imagine myself talking about this, it is always part of a future session on “It’s all about being closer to the customer”, something I believe is essential to creation. I built a paperless documentation-management system in office called e-office, for an audience with an average age of 45, and not accustomed to using technology. I created functionalities similar to what they were used to, such as the Like, Comment buttons on Facebook. Most SAP-based ERP systems are complex and not user-friendly. Hence, change management and adoption became key to designing this. As part of the technology club in Duke, I will demonstrate the need to build simplistic products, to ensure high adoption among a similar audience and gain their trust.
However, businesses are not just about customers. While talking to Alum Nikhil Permanand, he mentioned how his experience with Habitat for Humanity showed that business studies can be applied to create sustainable impact beyond corporations. During my participation in an Indian government initiative to provide government schools with sanitation and hygiene, I witnessed this. I lead a four-member team, conducted physical surveys, prepared reports, monitored construction, and conducted umpteen field visits. The journey was fraught with logistical, cultural and linguistic challenges, but we succeeded. I hope to leverage this experience to assist Habitat of Humanity with multiple aspects of operations. I am also looking forward to meeting families around Durham, who lack affordable housing facilities, and plan a similar roadmap for their brighter future.
There are many other initiatives that I wish to undertake for the greater good. I was told by Alum Nikhil Permanand that Fuqua does not have a dedicated Operations and Supply Chain Club. He also mentioned how, during his time, a few students interested in table tennis undertook the task of forming a club by conducting events, gauging response and convincing the MBA association to constitute it. With my eight years of experience working with procurement functions and supply-chain initiatives, I intend to set up an Operations Club to help students venture into the realities of a career in Operations through speaker events, annual conferences, plant tours, competitions and recruiting information. During my undergrad, I took up a similar initiative by co-founding the Environmental club of my institute. I intend to convince the administration by making a use case for the club that will be beneficial in the long run.
Leaders who can create a collaborative culture, and focus the collective intelligence towards solving problems, will save the day. I aim build a deep collaborative culture and develop other leaders, who in turn, will create impactful and sustainable solutions for the world.