So here I am. Sitting at my room in Stanford and thinking about the last 18 months that have passed by so fast. I have changed as a person. My professional goals have been realigned. All this happened for the better.

Having gone through the Stanford’s experience, my objectives 2 years ago have not changed a lot. I had very specific objectives when I had come to business school:

  1. Understanding global business environment specifically in Agriculture and Food Sector
  2. Leveraging on my prior experience of operations and business development in the agri sector to learn about financial management and international trade.

My learning objectives definitely needed a helping hand and Stanford provided me the ideal platform. I had applied to Stanford as it has a strong global focus as a school, has financed-focused-strategy as one of its strength and encourages entrepreneurship. Stanford has plenty of opportunities, but my focus helped me concentrate on activities and learnings that matter most to me.

After joining the school, I took some very specific steps towards my objective. I focused on using school resources to build my skill sets and to build the professional network. First, I took certain courses in sustainable and clean energy, food sectors etc. Second, I started a club at Stanford called “Food and Agriculture Resource Management” (FARM) that acted as a platform where the Stanford and Business community could come together to exchange knowledge, build networks and promote entrepreneurship in the sector. In our batch there were 4-5 students who had a background in agriculture and were deeply interested in something like FARM. Beginning with about 5 members, we grew to something like 30 members eventually in one year. Third, the faculty and industry gave me a very good response in terms of supporting the initiative, sharing resources and participating in the club activities. What gives me the real satisfaction is the fact that the current members have carried forward the initiative quite well. Fourth, I also identified niche areas and started connecting to experts. Apart from the FARM club, which definitely was a very good platform for building industry connections, I tapped the Alumni network. Getting connected to the specific university departments that have a strong focus on Food and Agriculture broadened my horizons. Participating in conferences and workshops helped me know more about the industry.

What I want to say is not complete without a special mention on Stanford’s faculty. The faculty here is a great mix of people from the academia and from the industry. We had a faculty who was from industry and was a young achiever as an entrepreneur. And Stanford is full of such faculties who could talk about business more from a practical perspective. The faculty has been very open to share their research which has benefitted me and the club immensely. The professors also had great networks and they are always happy to give students an access to their network.

Peer to peer learning is quite unique to US B-schools. And it is specifically true about Stanford. Everyone who lands up in the Stanford MBA program is an achiever. And each one of them comes to the school with a willingness to learn, share his experience and work with the other students. I hence benefitted from the faculty as much as from my peers. One of my friends owns and runs large scale farms in Argentina. One of my other friends had worked on policy issues of Sustainable Agriculture. When we sit across the table and share our stories, it becomes a very powerful learning experience for each one of us.

Internships form an integral part of learning during MBA programs. I had specific objective of understanding the finance side of food and agriculture sector. So, in the first half of my internship I worked on the buy side of a boutique investment bank. In the second half, I worked with an early stage agriculture company in Mexico and helped them in raising funds. I strongly believe when I would start my own company, these two experiences will support me a lot.

When it comes to placements, only 25% of the students go for the companies coming to the campus. The remaining students either go out of the campus to explore opportunities with other companies of their preferences or start on their own.

Last three years have been great – right from when I started writing my Reliance fellowship application till today. I became much more aware about myself. The School did put in lot of effort to support me improve on personal side through communication, people interaction, negotiation etc. The international understanding and intercultural sensitivity that I have built over the last two years is appalling. I look forward to jumping out in the corporate world and put my strengths to use.

My advice to candidates applying?

  1. Think hard to identify your interests and objectives
  2. Talk to as many people as possible, specifically people from the School and Alumni
  3. Talk to the admission committee and attend events from the school.

All the best!

 

© 2011, Nitish Bandi | Stanford GSB. All rights reserved.

Nitish Bandi | Stanford GSB

Nitish Bandi, graduated from IIT Kharagpur, was awarded Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship and will be soon finishing his 2-year MBA program at Stanford this year. He describes himself as a small-town boy from a farming family in Vijayawada, in India's southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Now living in Bhopal in central India, he is vice president of operations at Big India Farms, a food supply chain company serving central and western India. He studied agricultural and food engineering at IIT Kharagpur, receiving both bachelor's and master's degrees in technology in 2005. Among many achievements, Bandi received a merit certificate from the Central Board of Secondary Education for outstanding performance in mathematics, and was honored with various awards for his volunteer work in the area of the welfare of underprivileged children. An avid basketball player, the 6-foot-2-inch Bandi played throughout college, and shares his love of the game with those he encounters, from villagers back home to underprivileged children.