Chandini Gangadharan is an impressive woman. In five years of work at Vodafone, the first telecommunications company to ever place a mobile call in the UK, she went from Graduate Trainee resolving simple technical incidents to Deputy Manager overseeing the management of incidents, change and project activities, and compliance reporting. While in this role, she also held the coveted role of Lead for the Women In Technology Forum supporting and empowering 1500+ female employees.
But don’t peg her for a sole number’s person just yet, Chandini is also a life-long artist, having taken up acrylic and oil painting at the age of five. She is one of thirty-one exceptional students to join the MSBA degree program at UW’s Foster School of Business.
We talked to Chandini about why she chose to pursue an MSBA degree at Foster, how it’s helped her so far, and how she hopes to use it in the future.
Taking Advantage of Seattle’s Thriving Market and Foster’s Proximity
Washington’s economy continues to prosper and people (and students) around the world are taking notice. Just this year, Washington bumped Massachusetts to earn a top ten spot in the nation’s largest state economies. It is one of the many reason’s students like Chandini are attracted to the Foster School of Business as their jump-off point, into what is sure to be a healthy job market post-degree. “To be honest the name, University of Washington and the Foster School of Business itself, hold such weight. People know they are exceptional programs. I also love the proximity to the Seattle tech hub,” Chandini says.
Apart from the name recognition, Chandini shares how her choice to pursue Foster’s MSBA degree program came down to the balance of technical skills and business acumen offered by the program. “I liked the emphasis on the proper balance of technical skills and business concepts,” she says, “All of the courses are interesting. As a computer engineer, I never looked at strategy and during statistics we operated in mathematics. Now, I get to strategize and look at business-driven case studies, and still use my technical skills.”
Turning Classroom Experience into Tangible Work Skills
One of the ways Chandini feels she is being properly prepared for the workforce has to do with the curriculum structure. “This program is more group based. Our assignments have to be submitted on behalf of the team,” she explains. Students are divided into six teams comprised of five members each and mixed between working and non-working professionals. “It gives you an idea of how it would work in a job situation because everyone has to agree on meeting times, structure of roles, and organization of assignments and deliverables. Everyone is responsible for the task that they own.”
Chandini has enjoyed the program so far, but admits to having to work to transition from work life back to student life. “At first, I had difficulty with the assignment deadlines. My breakthrough came when I learned how to link my calendar to Canvas, which notified me of upcoming assignments. It helped to have everything in one place.” She has also managed to stay motivated with the help of her professors and classmates. “Always start early! Our professors say that, and it is really accurate. Everyone is really focused and always prepared with readings and assignments in class, so if you don’t give yourself enough time, you will be behind and feel left out.” Good advice for school and work, we say.
Preparing for a Leadership Role Using the MSBA Degree
Over the last two years before coming to Seattle, Chandini had progressed to a management level in her career, but longed for formal training to supplement her technical experience. To that end, she feels like she has found the perfect fit. She is looking forward to courses in strategic analytics, R and Python languages, and creating design models. “If you are applying for an analytics position you have to know these tools because you are telling stories with the data that you have,” she said before adding, “I’ve enjoyed that with the business cases we have studied, it has felt like we were managing consultants advising on the case.” Chandini knows exactly how her education is benefiting her in the long run and she’s excited about it.
While she is looking forward to starting classes after the holidays, she is also taking the time to enjoy Seattle by visiting the Seattle Art Museum, painting with Bob Ross on Youtube, and partaking in some of the PNW’s most scenic hikes.