Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Minnie Lahoti, University of Virginia (Darden)

I am an outgoing engineer who enjoys dancing, teaching organic chemistry, and promoting DEI!

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun fact about yourself: I participate in West Coast Swing style dance competitions.

Undergraduate and major school: University of Alabama – BS Chemical Engineering, University of Houston – MS Chemical Engineering

Most recent employer and job title: Inveniam Research Inc. – Data Scientist

What makes the case method so appealing as a way to learn and become a better manager? “So what do you think?” – The case method requires you to think actively, which results in better retention of knowledge in my experience. The case method is not just about learning from your teacher, but about gaining the perspectives of your peers from a variety of backgrounds. The Darden MBA prepares you well to become a better manager as you acquire and retain interpersonal communication skills and technical skills through the case study method.

Which word best describes the Darden MBA students and alumni you have met so far and why? Humble. Every student or alumnus I have met so far has treated me with respect and provided me with invaluable information about the Darden MBA. The Darden community is very strong and has certainly stood up to the hype.

Aside from cases and classmates, What was the key element of Virginia Darden’s MBA program that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Darden offers each incoming student a scholarship for a comprehensive immersion program. Learning how different companies and industries operate in other countries is a holistic part of the MBA process. Through Darden’s generous scholarship fund, Darden promotes equity among students as it allows every student to experience the program.

What class, club or activity are you most passionate about at Virginia Darden? I look forward to taking the portfolio and wealth management course in year 2. As I have no background in finance, I want to acquire the skills necessary to manage my income after the MBA and create a generational wealth. Professor Rich Evans is very popular with Darden students and alumni for providing excellent resources on managing your assets. I also look forward to the “Premier Coffee” every day. where 1st and 2nd year students can build good relationships while enjoying a cup of coffee after the first morning class.

Describe your greatest achievement in your career so far: One of my greatest accomplishments in my career has been to increase the number of employees at my first place of work by 100%. That’s right, 100%. Considering that I was the only female engineer in my division in a building with almost 200 men, I figured it wouldn’t be a difficult task. Boy, was I wrong. Before me, the division had struggled to hire other female engineers due to a lack of focus and processes focused on diversity and inclusion. After my first year of employment, I took the initiative and advocated for a female intern for the summer. I became her mentor and helped her navigate a male dominated area of ​​the automotive industry. It was exciting to see my efforts pay off when she joined our team full time after her internship!

How has COVID-19 changed your perspective on your career and your life in general? COVID-19 was really a challenge for me personally and professionally. I lost my Chachu (my father’s younger brother) who was nothing less than a father to me and was unable to return home to India to see my parents due to travel restrictions. I was also laid off at the end of March 2020. My “perfect” plan to stay in the board until I apply to business school has completely derailed. With no job prospects or income, I knew I had to use this time as efficiently as possible. My time during the pandemic helped me narrow down the industries I wanted to work in after the pandemic. Data analysis skills were in even greater demand, and I decided to focus on that.

I learned to code in Python on my own and took data analysis courses for three months. After long networking, I was able to find an internship as a data scientist. After my internship was over, I decided to start my own online tutoring business to help struggling students with academics during COVID. It was a wildly busy time, but I loved starting my own business and helping these students. I can honestly say that 2020 has been by far the most difficult year of my life. However, I managed to get out of it and was able to take charge of my life. Going through these experiences really puts things in perspective. My family, my mental health and a healthy work environment are now high on my list of priorities. As I make my way to Darden, I am grateful that 2020 is behind me and I am excited to begin this new phase in my life.

What drew you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after you graduate? I have had the opportunity to work in several different fields such as engineering, consulting, data science and education. Through these experiences I realized how much I enjoy learning different functions of a business and want to deepen and develop a holistic understanding of how to run a business at an executive level. Additionally, the ownership that comes with end-to-end project management really fuels my desire to focus on continuous improvement and acquire relevant soft and technical skills. After my MBA, I hope to work in a general management or program management role.

What other MBA programs have you applied to? McCombs, Rice Jones and Haas

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission to the Virginia Darden MBA program? I have three an advice:

1) Start building relationships with current students and admissions team members through coffee chats and other school events that take place throughout the admissions process. Culture fit will become very important when deciding which school to attend. Create a spreadsheet where you can keep track of who you’ve spoken with and write down important talking points. Otherwise, you will start to mix up information very quickly.

2) When applying to Darden or any other business school, be intentional with the questions you ask current students. If you’re asking someone on LinkedIn for help, ask probing questions instead of asking if they can “help you on your MBA journey.” This way you get more value for your time and for theirs.

3) Be authentic yourself! You will quickly learn how much Darden values ​​your honesty and authenticity. You want your essays to truly reflect who you are as a person and as a leader. Take these admission tests as soon as possible and focus on self-reflection tests. Don’t worry about what others might write, just focus on your own story.

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