When Vineet Agarwal, WG’20, applied to Wharton’s EMBA program, he hoped an MBA would help him transition into a business role. After a decade working as an engineer at Qualcomm, he observed that people tended to have either technical or business expertise – but not both.
“I knew about products, but I didn’t understand business or what was required in business roles. I wanted an MBA to be able to combine my experience with business knowledge to differentiate myself and take on a business role,” he said.
After researching programs and talking to his mentors, Vineet decided that an Ivy League school would be the best way to differentiate himself. Attending a Wharton EMBA information session in Los Angeles, he recalled being “starstruck” by the alumni who were doing what he hoped to do in the future.
A campus visit confirmed that Wharton was the right fit. He explained, “I sat in on a class at another EMBA program, where I felt comfortable. When I visited a Wharton EMBA class, it felt like a level above my current skill set. So, I asked myself, ‘Do I want to be comfortable, or do I want to challenge myself and stretch my capabilities?’ That was when I knew I wanted to come to Wharton.”
At Wharton, Vineet said the program exceeded his expectations in several ways:
“I thought I was exposed to diversity in my industry, but when I came to Wharton, I realized what true diversity of thought is. I heard points of view opposite of my own, which is exactly what I wanted to grow. I wanted to learn from people in different domains and functions. In my learning team alone, students were working in a variety of areas: pharmaceutical, technology, banking, and engineering.”
“I participated in the Executive Coaching and Feedback Program (ECFP), which is included in tuition and offered through Wharton’s McNulty Leadership Program. The ECFP is modeled after executive coaching programs at corporations to help students develop their ability to lead. The first step was a 360 review. I had received feedback at work, but it was always measured. When I received feedback through the ECFP, it was life-changing because it was honest. I discovered a big blind spot, which I worked on with my coach, and people at work noticed the change. This program helped me grow as a person and was tremendous.”
“When I came to Wharton, entrepreneurship was an alien concept to me. I have worked at corporations for my entire career and am risk-averse, but Wharton opened my eyes to entrepreneurship. I joined the Entrepreneurship Club and heard entrepreneurship stories from alumni and students, and I started thinking that I could do this. I formed an entrepreneurship club in my class. After graduation, I continued running the startup lab for my class, where we talk about entrepreneurship journeys and provide support for anyone getting started in the process. I also started thinking more about my own startup ideas and sought feedback from students and alumni. I’m currently working on an idea related to electronic health records for people visiting the U.S. and are not part of the U.S. healthcare system (FarLandMD). I am also an advisor to a Wharton EMBA startup, Carbevy, a venture aiming to revolutionize your car buying experience.”
“A gap in my portfolio of skills was exposure to real customers. At Wharton, I learned about the Mack Institute for Innovation Management, where I could gain this type of experience through the Collaboration Innovation Program (CIP). Working on a team with other EMBA students and full-time MBA students, I spent four months on a project applying concepts from classes to a real problem for a real client. We developed a data-driven sales strategy for distressed vehicles for a German OEM. When we ran into problems, we would talk to Wharton professors who would share pointers and help us reach better solutions. Our strategy reduced losses by 50 percent compared to past performance.”
“I went to Argentina for the required Global Business Week. We met with many business leaders about what it is like to do business in an emerging economy, which I could relate to my experience growing up in India. It also was a fantastic opportunity to bond with classmates from both coasts as we learned together.”
“In my second year of the program, I was promoted to director of program management at Qualcomm. In this role, I am responsible for financial and operational planning along with driving a new product spanning over a 24-month period, and I work with a cross-functional team to plan and execute projects.”
Advice to Incoming Students
When Vineet attends information receptions for Wharton’s EMBA program, a common question is whether the program is worth it. He said, “My answer is yes! I tell my story and explain how it has helped me improve as a person and leader.”
Vineet added, “There is an ecosystem at Wharton to help you succeed. It is all there, and you need to leverage it. Be willing to talk to people who know more than you so you can learn from them. Take advantage of opportunities like the CIP at the Mack Institute. Reach out to alumni who are always willing to talk. Coming to Wharton was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Click here to read a Q&A with Vineet about his experience at the Mack Institute.
— By Meghan Laska
Posted: April 19, 2021