Beyond Consulting: Nikhil Sarnot
The Mentorship Program is a core component of the Master of Science in Information Systems curriculum. The program connects MSIS students with Seattle-based IT leaders through a unique one-to-one professional relationship that can bridge the gap between academic concepts and real world practices.
Nikhil Sarnot, Director of Cyber Security and Privacy for the global consulting firm PwC, has been an MSIS mentor and guest lecturer for the past five years. He works on the frontlines of the evolving information security industry. His experience as a consultant exposes him and his team to the realities of information security, security analytics, and business intelligence, some of the hottest fields for MSIS graduates. As a mentor, he helps students connect their interests and the MSIS curriculum to what is actually happening in the business community. Nikhil stresses that the mentor-mentee relationship works best when it’s focused on the mentee and his or her goals. He lets them set their goals and he does his best to see that they are met.
“The first time I met with Nikhil Sarnot he asked me to list ten companies where I wanted to work, to map out my goals, and that he’d help me make those business connections. I was blown away by his genuine desire to help me. He got me thinking beyond the classroom, and how I could apply what I was learning to my career.”
Campbell says she appreciated her time with Nikhil and that he was genuinely always available if she had questions. “He brought along other people he was mentoring from PwC and it was helpful to speak with these people and connect to them and their work and goals.”
In addition to a sense of helping others, Sarnot says working in the program gives him a first-hand look at the classes and material taught, and he feels he’s building his personal and professional network. He also admits that he’s always looking to hire new talent and there is nothing more valuable than developing relationships that could lead to bringing in great people.
Sarnot is also a guest lecturer in the MSIS program. “I come in November or December and talk about issues of data security and privacy, where there are business and career opportunities, and why people should care about these issues.” He’s realized that this is a complicated topic and that there needs to be more voices involved.
Nikhil has invited other PwC team professionals to the talk. Many are younger and closer to the students’ ages and experiences. “They connect well with these students and that’s important.”
When asked why he’s a mentor he says, “I enjoy the energy these students have.” He talks openly about being a mentor and the value it brings to students. He credits the guidance he received from his previous formal/informal mentors as one of the reasons he’s part of the MSIS program. He enjoys, “helping to create young professionals who are ready to do something important with their lives and their careers.”
As for Kimberley, though her formal program time with Nikhil has ended, she still stays in contact with him and knows that she’s created a lasting business connection and a friend.
I can call him at any time with that list of companies I’m interested in working for, or to discuss a job opportunity. I know that he’ll be there to help.
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