Strengthening the IESE Alumni Chapter in India

One of my biggest takeaways from my IESE MBA was that the future lies in Asia. Most of the growth in the world economy will be driven by Asian countries. India is going to be one of the biggest contributors to that growth story.

According to a recent article in the Financial Times, coming back to India after an international MBA is increasingly becoming a popular choice. If recent IESE Indian graduates decide to return home, I recommend them to come and get involved with the alumni community. To begin with, it is important to reach out to the local alumni, to make yourself known, and to catch up on the initiatives that are shaping the future of business or industry you are most interested in for your future career.

I am one of the newest board members of the IESE Alumni Chapter in India. I am excited to be a part of the team because I have met some of the smartest and kindest people in my life at IESE. My vision for the role is to help form a community of such like minded people. We have IESE graduates from across several years who are doing impactful work across different industries in India. I want to contribute my time and energy in providing a platform for this community to come together.

Specifically, I see this community adding value in these ways:

  1. Professional Growth: To have access to a group of friends / advisors / mentors who can help you uncover business opportunities, your next career move or any other kind of support in your professional life. These people have gone through the same experience during their time at IESE and have a similar mindset which is aligned to the IESE values.
  2. Personal Growth: I’d love to see the community interact not only at a professional level, but also at a personal level. This could mean regular social interactions or meetups where there is a robust exchange of ideas, discussion around current issues and opportunity to reminisce about the good times in Barcelona. We also plan to encourage alumni to get their partners and families involved in the community.

It’s always great to reminisce about our MBA life, such as participating in IESE’s biggest social event Multi-Culti!

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit us when we are just starting off with these alumni initiatives. We already had a bunch of events planned that included our alumni members meeting in-person. While nothing can replace personal face-to-face human interaction, we are now assessing how we can pivot online.

We recently hosted our inaugural virtual learning session on “Perspectives on Covid-19 across sectors in India” where we hosted many of our alumni, who are established leaders in their respective industries like finance, hospitality, and chemicals. We had three alumni speakers, Amit Choudhary, AMP 19 (Executive Director at Himadri Speciality Chemical Ltd), Sanjali Nirwani, MBA 14 (CEO at Unlocked), Neil Parikh, MBA 10 (CEO at PPFAS Mutual Fund). Each of the speakers shared their experiences with the current crisis and how each one of them dealt with the impact across industries.

It was interesting to hear about how the mutual funds industry had to pivot online overnight to sustain interest from retail investors who are now keener on finding good investment opportunities in the current economic climate. We also learned how restaurant owners, in the midst of quarantine and social distancing, are adapting and evolving their business models in a post COVID world. While chemical manufacturers are thinking about the opportunities and vulnerabilities of the value chains especially exports given the current international trade situation. More than ever, we see how interconnected we are and how we must work together in order to thrive.

We had a great turnout and we got great feedback from the participants who were able to learn from a diverse set of panelists. That was very encouraging and we are now working on more ideas to keep the community engaged.

The advantage of the online format enables everyone to be connected from the comfort of their homes, without having to commute or travel to attend these sessions. We are breaking away from these barriers. We were able to put together a session for 75+ alumni in India and the diaspora located in other countries. This would have been impossible if our session was a physical event and would have resulted in a much lower turnout.

Weekend trip to Pondicherry with a few other IESE MBA 19 grads.

We have realised that we have a great opportunity to engage larger numbers than what we had thought before. It does not mean that we will not have personal face-to-face events in the future, but rather, we are going to strike a balance between these two formats. We see great potential for both and we’d like to get the best out of each.

Lastly, I believe that if we are able to support and help each other through these difficult times, it will help form and strengthen a closely-knit community for many years to come. It will also help spread the word about IESE in India, so that more people from India can explore and experience the transformative experience the school offers.

As a part of the IESE Alumni Chapter board in India, I encourage all our alumni members to come forward with ideas, propose initiatives and even lead them. I invite you to join us on this mission of strengthening the IESE community in India.


If you are a recent graduate, we want to remain connected through the IESE Alumni Association. We encourage you to:

Ankit Sawhney View more

Ankit Sawhney is a graduate of IESE MBA Class of 2019. Ankit is based in Mumbai and he is working at Netflix as a Project Manager in the Operations team. He previously worked at Google in India and Australia in the Large Customer Sales and Customer Experience teams. During his MBA, he interned at a Barcelona startup to learn more about product strategy. Ankit is the youngest and a recently inducted board member of the IESE Alumni Chapter in India.

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