By Mani Selvaraj, MBA’23
“Why an MBA now?” This was the question I got every time I told people that I wanted to do an MBA. The people who asked me that question would always remind me “You’re married with two kids”, “You’re 34”, ‘You’re already at JPMorgan with a well-paying job”, “You have 10 years of leadership experience from the military”, “Why not a part-time or Executive MBA”… and so on. But I was very determined to pursue my MBA dream.
A Kelley MBA, it is… I would say that my MBA dream would have not come true without my best friend Rohit Raman’s (MBA ’22) push and motivation. Back in our Indian Navy times, we both started MBA applications together. I applied for a couple of one-year MBA programs in the US and secured admission from USC Marshall. Meanwhile, Rohit joined Kelley; through him, I got to know about the Kelley full-time MBA program. The more we discussed his first-year experience at Kelley, the more I started liking the program. While I was in the Indian Navy, we were driven by the motto “Sail together or Sink together”. I found everyone from the Kelley community very supportive and I valued the collaborative culture. Kelley was the only two-year MBA program I applied to, and I am happy that I am here now.
Kelley MBA – A once in a lifetime learning experience. Having spent almost 10 years in the military, I had to unlearn some things and re-learn new things while I transitioned from the military to the corporate world. My MBA made that process smooth, easy, and efficient. I really love the multicultural environment at Kelley, where I have fellow classmates from more than 30 different countries. GLOBASE is another opportunity for me to learn about multicultural experiences and doing business in different parts of the world. I am astonished at how my diverse classmates come up with different unique solutions for the same business problem during a case discussion in class. I am part of Supply Chain Academy and Digital Enterprise (SCADE), which is one of the best decisions I made at Kelley. I learned a lot of practical aspects of Supply Chain & Operations through expert speaker sessions, and industry visits to companies such as Dick’s Sporting Goods, Subaru of Indiana, GE, and Whirlpool manufacturing facilities, etc. Once you add the academy experience with core classes, case competitions, and club activities, learning from each one of my classmates will enable me to succeed in the years to come.
Striking the balance. Kelley alumni often told me that an MBA is all about prioritizing. There are so many things going on around the campus and the town. However, one must prioritize what you want out of the MBA program, and what your long-term and post-MBA goals are. Networking was very new, and I wanted to improve at it. I spent a lot of time networking with alumni and corporate recruiters to help me hone my skills and comfort level. Since most of my experience was from the military, following hierarchy and chain of command was engrained in me. It was a challenge to leave my comfort zone and feel comfortable with networking. While academics and recruiting kept me busy throughout business hours, my family and friends did their part to keep me on my toes during the off hours. “Halloween Party at Bluebird. Come on let’s go” says my friends; whereas my wife says, “Kids want to go Trick or Treating”. ‘Whom should I say no to?’ Of course, I went Trick or Treating. I have the same dilemma (friends or family) for Christmas, Diwali, other celebrations, and weekend parties. Balancing an MBA and a personal life for a student like me with a family requires meticulous planning. But I think I tried to strike the balance between the two although my wife disagrees with me on this.
Pathways to my career. I wholeheartedly thank Kelley MBA alumni and Graduate Career Services for helping me be successful during both my internship and full-time career search. The Kelley staff and alumni have helped me with numerous mock interviews, casings, and networking sessions. Their support has been the stepping stone to my success. Last summer I interned with Mercury Marine, in their Corporate Strategy Leadership Development Program. Those 10 weeks have taught me a lot about what I need to excel in Corporate America. That transformative experience along with the support of Kelley has given me the opportunity to realize my potential and succeed with a full-time offer from Amazon. While my first year was full of academics, networking, and recruiting, by contrast, my second year is more contributing to the Kelley community. As VP of the Data & Operations Club and the Veterans Club, I enjoy giving back to the community from which I received a lot. As I am enjoying the last few months of my MBA, I am looking forward to joining Amazon in Seattle as a Senior Product Manager upon graduation and continuing my journey as a Kelley MBA alum.
Kelley has not just helped me in achieving my post-MBA goal but has also given me lifelong experiences and made my moments go to momentum.