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Nammu Kumar Named Poets&Quants 2022 Best & Brightest MBA

Full-time MBA graduate Nammu Kumar has been named a 2022 Best & Brightest MBA by Poets & Quants.
Nammu Kumar, Full-time MBA 2022 Graduate

Nammu Kumar, Full-time MBA 2022 Graduate

“The perfect balance between analytical and intuitive, with a keen eye for detail.”

Hometown: Bangalore, India

Fun fact about yourself: I didn’t know I would permanently move to the US until eight weeks prior when I flew here with a one-way ticket from India. I had no plan, no idea whether I would continue to pursue law or change my career path, or how to go about deciding. Looking back, almost five years later, I am grateful for the journey and proud of how far I’ve come!

Undergraduate School and Degree:  Immediately after high school, I attended Christ University School of Law in Bangalore, earning my undergraduate degree in Business Administration and Law – BBA LLB.  It was a dual degree, five-year program.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked for ARF Corp, a Dunkin franchise in the Northeast, as a General Manager. Working in operations in the restaurant- retail industry is fast paced and challenging – no two days are the same. You are constantly dealing with problems you must solve on your feet, as quickly as possible. This job helped me develop my management and leadership skills because ultimately, it is a people business- whether externally dealing with customers, or internally with my team.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? My MBA internship was with Bank of America in their Strategy and Management Summer Associate Program, within the Consumer and Small Business Bank. The internship was virtual due to Covid-19, but would have been located at their headquarters in Charlotte, NC. I worked on a Governance and Controls team, building a regulatory risk framework from scratch. My project will be used to track regulatory requirements for consumer products (like credit cards and home loans) and provide visibility into the various processes, procedures, metrics, and controls the Bank has in place to ensure compliance.

Where will you be working after graduation? After graduation, I will return to Bank of America as part of the Strategy and Management Associate Program. It is a two-year LDP program where I will essentially be an internal strategy consultant, working on various, cross-divisional projects within the Bank.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • Graduate Research Assistant at the VentureLab – I had the chance to work on so many things I am passionate about as part of this opportunity — from highlighting female founders in a speaker series, to researching inclusivity, diversity, and representation in the startup ecosystem in Atlanta. The latter will enable VentureLab to create new programs and partnerships for Georgia Tech to help fill the gap in inclusive entrepreneurship.
  • Women in Business Club President – The Women in Business (WiB) leadership team members are some of the most inspiring, wonderful people I have had the pleasure of leading. Together, we plan and execute thoughtful, creative, and fun events that facilitate deeper connections within the MBA program and meaningful conversations where members can share, learn, and connect.
  • International Committee Lead – Through this role, I highlight the diversity within our program, allowing students to learn from each other’s cultures, ethnicities, and international experiences. It has been a joy to organize and attend ethnic dinners, watch international films, host Friendsgiving for international students, and make them feel welcome and supported through the program.
  • Board Fellow – For the past year-and-a-half, I have been on the Board of Prosthetic Hope International, a non-profit organization that works to improve global access to rehabilitation, prosthetics, and orthotics to underserved communities. This has been a memorable experience for me — not only because I have learned the unique challenges faced by non-profits, but I also formed genuine friendships with people who share a passion for helping others.
  • Leading Edge Candidate – I was fortunate to receive one-on-one leadership development coaching during my first year at Scheller. It led me to better understand my leadership style, so I can work on specific leadership skills that have been useful in business school and that I will carry with me into my professional career.
  • MBA Admissions Ambassador and Student Interviewer – As an ambassador, I meet with prospective MBA candidates, answer questions, guide them through the admissions process, and support them in making the best decision for them. It’s a great way to give back to the program, advocate for Scheller, and help shape future classes!
  • Peer Mentor – The Peer Leadership Committee paired me with three first-year MBA students to provide support and guidance as they transition back to school. We spend quality time together discussing academics, extracurricular/ social activities, recruiting, and life.
  • Net Impact Club, Pride Club, Operations Club, Strategy and Innovation Club Member – As a member of these student organizations, I attend events and network with other members.
  • Case Competitions — AB InBev, Tepper International Case Competition

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? The extracurricular achievement that I am most proud of is the opportunity to serve as President for the Women in Business Club (WiB)! I am proud that our membership increased by over 30% this year. It has been such a joy to receive messages from members about how much they enjoyed an event, how it changed their perspective, or how they learned something new. I am very intentional about WiB, including a mix of fun social events as well as those that would provide a deeper meaning to our members. Our “What Is Your Story” event was a unique living art exhibit, featuring stories anonymously submitted by classmates that touched anything they secretly deal with in their lives. We used post-it notes to respond to stories and created a feedback loop. Writing words of support, encouragement and love helped people understand that they are not alone. Through our events, we create a safe space to learn from the experiences of our peers, improve our ability to negotiate, have difficult conversations, and learn how to be supportive, respectful allies.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? When I started my pre-MBA job, I had just moved to the US and all my work experience was in the field of law. Shifting to operations and management was a steep learning curve because the profession was new and I was new to the country. I went from having to learn the US currency to provide customers change, to improving operational inefficiencies and customer satisfaction, to then opening a new next-gen store and training my own teams. I’m proud that I learned so many skills within a short period of time, discovered a passion for business, and was able to make a lasting impact.

Why did you choose this business school? I was looking for an MBA program with a small class size; my undergraduate class size was close to 300, and I wanted to experience something different and feel like I knew everyone and everyone knew me. I spent the day at Scheller immediately following my admissions interview and I could tell the community was close from the interaction between students. The people — whether staff, professors, or students — are what ultimately made me pick this school. I also got to see a glimpse of Atlanta that day and loved the culture and dynamic of the city and all it has to offer, professionally and otherwise. I knew I wanted to be in a city on the east coast, so it all lined up perfectly!

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite professor is Manasa Gopal, who teaches an elective called Management of Financial Institutions. She is thorough and breaks down complex, abstract concepts into easily understandable, simple terms. I like her teaching style: she’s engaging and dynamic.  She doesn’t just give you the answer when you are stuck; she rewinds and goes over it in a way that forces you to think and get to the right conclusion. I’m enjoying learning from such a qualified, dedicated professor. The cherry on top is that she also happens to be a female, Indian woman – representation matters!

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? Very early on in my first year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to come up with creative ways to socialize in person safely. Some brainstorming later, I came up with an idea that we named ‘hobby night’ – small in person gatherings hosted by a classmate, who wanted to share their hobby or any interest or activity with a group of friends from the program. Hobby nights were a huge success because it was a great way to meet people you hadn’t met in the program and make new friends! Getting to know classmates outside of the classroom in small intimate groups and making memories over a shared activity is what made this so special. The Hobby nights I have hosted include ‘Bread Making’, where I taught people how to make Italian focaccia, and ‘Indian Food 101’, where attendees learned about India’s food culture and tried simple recipes.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? The Full-time MBA really is that – full time. However, school doesn’t exist in a silo; you still have other areas of your life that also need time, energy, and focus. If I were to do one thing differently, it would be to try and find a sustainable way to handle all my different areas and competing interests. This was something I found challenging early in the program — transitioning to school and the change of pace, seeing everyone around you dive into various activities and projects, and wanting to be involved and present while also balancing your other needs can be a struggle. It’s ok to give yourself a moment to breathe, absorb, and find your feet — you are not going to fall behind!

What surprised you the most about business school? I knew that this program would be rigorous and challenge me, but I didn’t expect to have this much fun!  What surprised me most was that there are so many opportunities for you to get involved in things you are passionate about. Between all the electives, student clubs and committees, research jobs, teaching assistantships, and workshops, you will find your niche and others who share those same interests, whether academic or otherwise. All you really have to do is come in with an open mind, be ready to experiment, and try new things.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? The one thing that I did during the application process was reach out to and speak with student ambassadors. Talking with current students gave a full picture of what a typical week in the MBA program looks like and a better understanding of the culture at the school. When it came to my application and interview, I felt confident because I had so much ‘insider’ knowledge that was shared with me in those conversations and already felt like I belonged here. It made it easier to talk about why this was such a great fit for me and what I wanted bring to the community at Scheller.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire?  I am endlessly in awe of my classmate Francesca Sally, our class President! She has done a great job representing our class and our school and it shows in how connected she is with every student. It has been a pleasure watching her grow as a leader over the past year: she handles her many responsibilities with grit and grace. I admire how she balances academics, recruiting, e student council responsibilities, and extra curriculars effortlessly (although I know how hard she works to make it look so effortless) — all while being accessible and available for anybody who needs anything. She really is one of the most genuine people I have ever met, and I am proud to call her my friend.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? I would say my uncle and aunt who very successfully run their own businesses were my biggest influence. It was through working with them that I realized that this is something I am good at, and that interest grew into a passion and wanting to switch career paths.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  1. I would love an opportunity to work abroad temporarily, whether on a project with a global team or a short-term relocation to an international office. I think travel is something that always brings new perspective and getting to combine that with work would be awesome!
  2. I want to experience working for a startup someday- maybe my own!

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? I think the pandemic proved that you do not necessarily have to be tied down to one location for you to work productively or be efficient. Unless you are in a field of work that is tied to a specific location (for example, investment bankers are most likely concentrated in New York City), job location is not as big of a factor as it has been in the past. I think company culture, especially in jobs that have shifted to remote, will be a much bigger factor in career/ job related decisions.

What made Nammu such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“What makes an MBA class interesting to teach is the different experiences students bring into the classroom. Nammu particularly comes from a law background, but is taking a finance course I teach. She arrives well prepared every class with an abundance of curiosity, which is evident in the questions she poses during the class. These questions spur delightful discussions with other students in class. These qualities make Nammu an invaluable addition to any classroom and I am certain these qualities will also serve her well in her future career.”

Manasa Gopal
Assistant Professor of Finance

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