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USC Marshall Essay 1: What is your immediate short-term goal post-graduation from the USC Marshall MBA program? (Please include industry and function information in your answer).
I hail from India, where 300 million people still lack access to electricity and 77 million households still use kerosene for lighting! While the aim is to empower people with essential services such as electricity, the challenge, however, is to achieve this goal in a sustainable way, both economically and environmentally. With this objective in mind, I co-founded Company ABC in July 2013, developing, manufacturing and delivering high-efficiency solar technologies that are feasible for a resource-constrained society.
Post-MBA, leveraging my past experience and cultural understanding of rural population, I intend to develop functional alternate-energy products, such as crowd-funded mobile solar pump and solar-charging stations and pioneer business models, such as pay-as-you-use alternate-energy solutions, facilitating mass adoption of such products by overcoming the challenge of high initial investment, thereby capturing a significant share of the USD 2.1 Billion clean-energy market.
Further, I plan to expand to urban markets, making solar-energy harnessing inherent in urban buildings through integration of ‘Green Design’. Increase in urbanism and affluence presents opportunities to enhance energy security through energy-efficient urban buildings. Innovate versatile solar technologies such as transparent solar cells and colored home facades combine clean-energy generation and modern-design aesthetics, and I plan to export the same to global emerging markets such as South-East Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, expanding the reach and impact of my entrepreneurial venture.
Since 2013, I’ve conceptualized custom clean-energy solutions in 100+ un-electrified villages, introduced innovative solutions for agricultural sector and pioneered traditional clean-energy solutions for urban markets, generating revenues of over $5 Mn.
Having discussed my career path with several USC Marshall students, I’ve realized that Marshall’s MBA program, with its strong concentration on Sustainability and well-rounded course structure involving various experiential learning opportunities provides the ideal opportunity to enhance my competence in financial valuation, management and strategic decision-making.
Solar energy costs less than its traditional counterpart, but high initial investment and slow ROI are major deterrents to adoption, and hence funding plays a major role in this industry. With traditional financing, such as government and tax subsidies, slowly but surely diminishing, courses such as Money and Capital Markets will equip me with a thorough understanding of various forms of funding and unique insights on how to securitize Solar Installations into tradable asset.
Additionally, conceptualizing business strategies for export and expansion requires global industry insights, including methods of raising capital to develop solutions and knowledge to evaluate value propositions, which, as suggested by Ravdeep Sarna (MBA Class of 2017), PRIME will provide me through opportunities to interact with real-world corporations facing real-time issues, allowing me to explore how unique characteristics of each nation influence complex business decisions, and the insights gained from developing solutions and getting them validated by executives of global corporations will serve my ambition of building a global brand. Also, courses such as Strategic Issues For Global Business, and Strategic Choice and Valuation Analysis will provide me the requisite skills to understand not only various issues affecting global business but also how to evaluate opportunities and make decisions in the global business environment.
While working in a hugely underserved market, yet one with immense macro-risks posed by political, economic and regulatory uncertainties, strategic initiatives to manage risks and ensure long-term profitability are of utmost importance, and courses such as Cases in Feasibility analyses will equip me to conceptualize business strategies to overcome challenges of constantly changing technology costs and the absence of customer behavior data, while courses such as Investing in Impact Ventures and Social Entrepreneurship will give me a better understanding of the dynamics of bottom-of-the-pyramid market, my primary customer segment.
Finally, in an era of tighter regulatory requirements and pressure from various stakeholders to integrate sustainability, courses such as Environmental Sustainability and Competitive Advantage will not only help me understand various sustainability initiatives but also provide in-depth analysis of their effectiveness, enabling me to capture a significant share of the market.
Overall, I feel that USC Marshall’s well-rounded course curriculum and strong alumni network will provide a strong foundation for my future endeavors. At the same time, class discussions and case assignments with peers from different industry backgrounds will allow me to gain unique perspectives that I can readily apply to various problems in my ventures, post-MBA.
USC Marshall Essay 2: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined, established, or expected. (200 words)
April 2013: I left a satisfying and well-paying job in USA and moved back to India to pursue my dream of becoming a change-agent here. While my exposure to American culture, where innovation and risk-taking are celebrated, had conditioned me for this leap, my mission’s uncertain and irreversible nature created fear and doubt in my mind. With Maslow’s epochal words (‘What a man can do, he must do’) ringing in my ears, I jumped, and how!
Fate favors the brave, and it brought me an opportunity in the form of Elections 2013, where I campaigned actively, working with people of rural India to gain a deeper cultural understanding of their environment, lifestyle, problems and needs, realizing the importance of value-creation through sustainable and optimal resource utilization.
Professional experience with a Fortune 500 company combined with my grass-root level interactions enabled me to develop products for the diverse yet specific needs of India’s agriculture sector, employing 50% of India’s workforce without over-reliance on government subsidies.
Leaving an established life with a defined career path and venturing into a journey of creating social impact allowed me to not only realize my true potential but also create a foundation for sustainable economic progress.