Darden Community, Full-Time MBA, Student Profile or Feature

35 x 56, 43 x 53, 86 x 45? MBA Students Embrace Mental Math

By Maggie Dodson-
embrace-mental-math

Kapil Bansal (MBA ’20) has always had an affinity for numbers. Today on the blog, we’re sharing how Bansal turned a useful hobby into a skills development workshop for his classmates. Darden’s community is uniquely student-run. Have an interest in starting a club? No problem! Want to host mental math sessions for your classmates? Let’s try it! 

Though now a Darden graduate, Bansal plans to host a virtual mental math workshop this year, sharing this practical skill with even more Darden students. For prospective students, Bansal shared, “If you are excited about student led initiatives and you have that entrepreneurial spirit then Darden provides you a lot of resources including the encouraging community and intellectual capital. Darden will the perfect platform to bring your ideas to life in a risk free environment.”


Student-led initiatives truly make the Darden experience unique and offer unparalleled leadership learning opportunities to the students. My fellow classmates conceived and executed several ideas including ‘First Coffee Series – GMO Club’, ‘Darden Stories’, ‘Swimming Club’ etc. During my time at Darden, I also had a chance to conduct a Mental Maths Workshop and share my knowledge of Vedic Maths — an ancient system of Indian Maths — with the Darden community.

Mental maths is a skill that allows people to do math in their head without using pencil/paper or a calculator. I’ve practiced Vedic Maths since childhood. During Darden classes, whenever professors would ask for a calculation, for example  35×56 or 47×53, I would immediately have the answer. My classmates were amused to see me doing all these calculations in my head without using pen/paper or a calculator. Soon, in every class and for every calculation, my classmates would call on me. This actually made it to the bingo sheets of our section, and I even provided 1-1 mental maths sessions as a part of the BGiA charity auction. While I was enjoying the easy class participation points for this contribution, my friends encouraged me to take part in the Darden Talent Show in Spring 2019 and showcase my skill to the broader Darden community. In the show, I multiplied two four-digit numbers (4247×1358) orally in front of 400+ people. The response was just beyond my imagination. A lot of students applauded my skill and reached out to me to ask if I could share tricks with them.

Kapil Bansal (MBA ’20) hosts a mental math session during the 2019-20 academic year.

In Fall 2019, I received similar requests from students who wanted to learn quick calculations for their upcoming interviews. Keen to share my knowledge with the Darden community, I started 1-1 sessions, and stunned people with the magic of Vedic Maths. This gave me an opportunity to meet classmates who I may not have had a chance to meet before. While I enjoyed the individual interactions, I was not able to meet everyone! Then, one of my friends suggested conducting a workshop instead of individual sessions. While Vedic Maths is a set of few techniques which I internalized due to lack of a calculator, I never imagined that a group of such smart people would be interested in learning it! A few friends even came forward to help me manage the logistics of the workshop — designing posters to publicize the event, reserving the rooms, finalizing the flow of the workshop, navigating the calendar of MBA students for scheduling, etc. I worked with a friend, Mridul Mathur to understand what types of calculations would be useful for the attendees so that I could optimize the content of the workshop. With fingers crossed, we conducted the first workshop and over 70 students attended it! The feedback was just unbelievable — people reached out to me to share how one of the tricks was useful during their interview, how I helped them improve one of their biggest weaknesses, how they will encourage their kids to learn Vedic Maths from childhood. I loved how so many people felt more comfortable with numbers after the workshop.

I just could not have imagined any of this without the support of the Darden community. The Darden experience through the generations is founded on the principle of collaboration above competition. Every member of the community aims to bring the best out of each other with the support of some of the best and the brightest minds from across the world. I could never imagine that my skill, that I believed was ordinary for such a long period, could help create such an impact for me and so many people around me. That is the spirit and influence of Darden — to define, create, and transform excellence all while we can have fun with it.

-Kapil Bansal, MBA ’20

Kapil Bansal (MBA ’20)

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