Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Surbhi Vijay Bhavsar, Cornell University (Johnson)

“A development professional who is committed to making the planet a better place. “

Hometown: Pune, Maharashtra, India

Fun fact about yourself: My commitment to climate action started in high school when I completely shifted to sustainable lifestyle choices, including converting to vegetarianism.

Undergraduate and major school:

Bachelor of Architecture from the University of Pune and
Master in Urban Planning from Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur

Most recent employer and job title: Associate consultant within the Infrastructure Advisory practice at Crisil

Apart from your classmates, What was the key element of Cornell’s MBA program that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I was really amazed at the flexibility and customization offered by the program. This ranged from the various immersions (and the ability to customize them as well) to specializing in one or more areas of interest to the ability to take courses at Cornell’s largest and broadest university.

What class, club or activity are you most passionate about at Cornell? School offers so many exciting avenues for professional and personal growth, it’s almost overwhelming. But if I had to choose my top 3, it would be the following:

1) Sustainable global business immersion: This will allow me to learn in depth about the intersection of sustainability and business.

2) Cornell Impact Club: This will allow me to give back to the larger community of Ithaca through its social impact initiatives and the

3) Johnson Board of Directors Scholarship: Here, I hope I have the opportunity to join the board of directors of a non-profit organization and help make impactful decisions.

What excites you most about living in Ithaca and the Finger Lakes region? Coming from a tropical country, I’m super excited, but also a little wary of the infamous Ithaca winters. In my first week in the city I have already hiked two beautiful waterfalls and really can’t wait to explore more of the beautiful gorges.

Describe your greatest achievement in your career so far: Strategic development of tourist destinations for a state development authority and enabling it to secure multi-million dollar funding from a multilateral organization, while ensuring the economic, environmental and social sustainability of the region.

How has COVID-19 changed your perspective on your career and your life in general? I had only recently joined my last organization when the country entered containment. Working completely remotely and never having met my team members in person taught me the importance of adaptability and the value of personal interactions, especially as I worked with clients in all geographies. . I was able to use this time to make a personal impact, helping an MP reform his state’s action plan on climate change to improve employability, accessibility to education and personal development of disadvantaged students. These experiences reinforced my commitment to social impact and sustainability, and my belief that we can and must do much more.

What drew you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after you graduate?
Having worked for over four years in the urban development sector in an advisory role, I realized that I needed to develop skills beyond technical, to improve my people and management skills. organizations and learn more about how businesses work. With a clear interest in sustainability, I was also inclined to develop my abilities at the intersection of business and sustainability and Johnson seemed like the right fit. After the MBA, I hope to work in consulting, establishing a niche where I can benefit from these experiences and interests.

What other MBA programs have you applied to? Yale, Ross, Fuqua, MIT and INSEAD

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission to Cornell’s MBA program? Doing your research is essential. Talk to as many students and alumni as possible. I had such insightful conversations throughout the process with different groups and individuals. I have been supported every step of the way and continue to be, which I found truly encouraging and amazing. You will personally experience how deeply rooted the “prepayment culture” is at Cornell Johnson. One suggestion is to identify professors who are teaching courses that interest you and potentially talk to them and find out more about the course, program, and fit.

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