Pravanjan Das is preparing to graduate as a member of the Darden full-time MBA Class of 2019 and ready to take the next step in his career. Soon, he’ll join McKinsey & Co.’s digital practice at Atlanta, where he completed his summer internship after his First Year at the School. Before leaving Grounds, Das looked back on his decision to come to Charlottesville and looked forward to his next steps after finding his why at Darden.
What was your background before business school?
Most of my pre-MBA career was in consulting. Immediately prior, I was a consultant with PwC Advisory in Bangalore, India, where I had spent four-plus years and worked in a gamut of industries and functions.
Why did you choose Darden?
I had been fascinated by the intersection of tech and strategy and led a team at PwC focused on fintech strategy consulting for more than a year. A majority of my work was with PwC/Strategy& colleagues based in the United States, and at some point, the intrigue led me to seek an MBA at a top U.S. B-school.
Darden was a great fit for me for a multitude of reasons. First, I had been working for six-plus years prior to Darden, and I knew I would fit best into a case-based pedagogy. Second, I wanted to be wowed by the faculty, and Darden has consistently been top-ranked for its quality of professors. Third, the Behavioral Research at Darden Lab offered a great platform for my wife, who wanted to pursue her aspirations to switch to a career in research within organizational psychology.
What’s been the most surprising thing about your experience?
There are so many things that have amazed me in the past two years. I still get surprised everyday by the breadth and depth of thought-process among my peers in the class. The diversity of life experiences they draw from provides a unique angle to the insights that come across. There have been so many situations when I would think, “That is such an interesting angle to look at it. I would have never thought of it that way.” At the same time, some of my favorite courses juxtaposed two completely different paradigms to draw learnings on business and life. For instance, eastern philosophy and strategic thinking or creativity in modern Barcelona and innovation. And the insights were truly fascinating.
The space to train a logical and thoughtful expression of ideas is probably the biggest advantage of the case-method, coupled with such brilliant professors and classmates.
What was your favorite highlight from First Year?
One of my favorite moments from the First Year was the Global Food Festival of 2017, where I managed to break my self-inhibitions of stage fright and dance to Punjabi/Bollywood tunes in front of a majestic Darden crowd. I owe thanks to my wife. She finally fulfilled her task as outlined by our marriage agreement (or call it a bet) to teach me some moves.
The Global Food Festival is quite a festival with food and cultural performances from about 50 countries and regions and almost entirely managed by Darden students.
And Second Year?
Two highlights instantly ring the bell: One, I loved the joy of giving back to the Darden community. As a Second Year coach, I rejoiced in every news of victory (in recruiting), however small or big, from my mentees. Especially, the call or ping to inform me when they landed a job offer felt rewarding.
Second, the Darden Worldwide Course to Barcelona, when I fulfilled my long-awaited dream to watch my favorite soccer team play at the best stadium in the world — Camp Nou.
What will you miss about Darden?
Just about everything — the halls, professors, friends. But probably most importantly: having the time and space to jog my intellectual curiosity.