Abhishek “Abhi” Sharma, MSCM ’22, once dreamed of reaching the “pinnacle” of his mechanical engineering career path. But when a major setback seemed to dash his hopes, Abhi adapted and thrived, setting himself on a unique trajectory rich with global experience and business insight. Now he’s using Foster’s MSCM program to launch him into the next chapter of his career, sharing his knowledge as a Student Ambassador along the way.
A Natural Engineer
As a child in his hometown New Delhi, India, Abhi was fascinated by the everyday objects around him and what made them tick. “I was so curious,” Abhi recalls, “I wondered what was in a speaker, how does it make sound? I used to just crack things open at home and try to fix them.” His parents saw right away their son was the kind of person who liked to make things, and they encouraged Abhi to study engineering.
After earning his Bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, Abhi moved to the US to pursue his Master’s in the same field. He’d come a long way from tinkering with speakers: “My major engineering project was designing and constructing a go-kart. It had a manual override system, so someone else could take control if they needed to.”
Bumps in the Road
As Abhi’s project received national acclaim, he started to set his career aspirations high. “That’s when I decided I really wanted to work for Boeing, Lockheed Martin, or Northrup Grumman. That’s like the pinnacle for a mechanical engineer, right?” But much to his disappointment, Abhi quickly learned he needed to be a US citizen or green card holder to work on the major defense contracts these companies handled. He received job offers, only for them to be revoked. “It was my dream, but I was naïve. It was an eye-opener and a big bummer.”
Forging a New Path
After hitting this apparent dead end, Abhi collected himself, restrategized, and started applying to a wider range of companies. Eventually he landed a job with KHD Humboldt Wedag, a multinational engineering company based in Germany. Climbing the ranks in roles like Project Engineer and Product Application Manager, Abhi gained deep experience working with all kinds of teams.
“My career has given me excellent opportunities to work with people from such different backgrounds. I’ve worked with people from China, India, France, and Brazil. When you’re in a global workplace, that’s when you really realize how important communication is. It’s about understanding the other person’s perspective.”
Transcending Technical Skills
Among Abhi’s accomplishments was leading a technical team on the proposal for one of the biggest projects in the history of the company. In the process, Abhi was doing more than wrangling data and mathematical concepts: it was a lot of meetings, a lot of listening and talking to stakeholders. After three years, the proposal was successfully converted into a contract. For Abhi, this marked a huge achievement, as well as a pivotal moment. “I realized that, while it’s good to have technical skills, to know how businesses work you need to understand the nuances of how business decisions get made. That’s when I decided to go to business school.”
Ever the analytical thinker, Abhi carefully weighed his options for business school. Ultimately, he chose Foster’s MSCM program. “I calculated everything, and I think the return on investment and tradeoffs with MSCM are very good.” He chose MSCM to make the most of his years of diverse experience, and because, as Abhi says, supply chains are everywhere: “In finance, consumer goods, tech, and manufacturing, there’s the supply chain. The amount of jobs and career options is phenomenal.”
Abhi especially likes the accelerated pace, close community, and access to resources at Foster. “You can ask professors for case studies and extra assignments. Nobody says no. As long as you’re willing to do the hard work, people are always there to help you.”
Paying it Forward
Another facet of Abhi’s Foster experience is his role as an MSCM Student Ambassador. As an ambassador, Abhi shares his knowledge and experience with prospective students. “My time at Foster has already been transformative,” he says, “and this is an opportunity to give back to the Foster community. I help students who were in my shoes a few years ago.” Abhi especially values sharing insights into the international student experience, as well as helping people think through key career decisions such as choosing where to live.
What’s next for Abhi after MSCM? He has his sights set on supply chain jobs in tech, but is also considering supply chain jobs in consumer goods or manufacturing. Whatever he does next, what’s most important to Abhi is that it “touches people’s day-to-day lives, that it makes their lives easier.”
Have questions for an ambassador like Abhi? Email [email protected] to get connected with an MSCM student ambassador.
Learn even more about the Foster MSCM experience by attending an upcoming online information session.