Sohrab Kalra, currently a second year residential MBA student at Darden, is an active, engaged and thoughtful member of the community, an example of the talent Darden is proud to attract. He grew up in Punjab, India and attended Thapar University where he received his Bachelor of Engineering in Computer Engineering. Sohrab took the time to share some of his reflections about his experiences at Darden:
How did you hear about Darden and what motivated your decision to attend?
- I did exhaustive research on MBA programs and different schools before applying. I used multiple sources such as my personal network of friends and their friends, online resources, personal blogs of current students and alums and connected with alums via Linkedin to learn more about each school. At the same time, I introspected hard and listed down the skills and the experience I wanted to get through my MBA. Through this reflection, I realized I wanted to be in a place that offered an immersive experience and an environment that fostered development of leadership skills, such as decision making and structured problem solving. Darden, with its rigor and interactive experience of case method in the beautiful backdrop of Charlottesville, seemed the perfect place to fill the gaps and acquire the skills that I was missing. I was admitted to other top 10 schools too and faced lack of funds, but Darden offered the Batten Scholarship which made it possible to get my MBA here.
One of Darden’s strengths is the strong alumni and friends networks. Could you describe the ways in which you’ve connected with and benefited from the network as a student?
- I think the biggest benefit I have had from the network is picking up a lot of good habits, as well as best practices in life from the diverse perspectives amongst my peers. Also, listening to all the alumni come in and share their professional and personal life experiences has helped me develop a good professional and personal ideology, which I think matters a lot in the longer term.
Could you share an “ah-hah” moment that you had while at Darden?
- Ah, there have been so many it is hard to pick one. I, personally, am intuitive and use that to make decisions a lot of the time so I always thought that I needed to curb that instinct. During one of the ‘Unsolved Business Mysteries’ we had a talk on system 1 thinking (intuitive) and system 2 thinking (rational). I walked up to the professor at the end of the session and shared what I thought I needed to change about myself and he mentioned that research suggests that system 1 thinkers who learn to harvest system 2 thinking when needed tend to be most successful. This revelation was both reassuring and eye opening to me at the same time.
What are you goals for the future and how to you expect your Darden education will help you achieve them?
- Before coming to Darden, I co-founded a new venture which was recently acquired. That process has been the most satisfying professional experience of my life, so entrepreneurship is where I see myself ultimately. Most recently, I have been working on developing a platform that brings more data-driven decisions to agriculture so fingers crossed it works out! Darden has been like a tough coach who identifies your true potential and pushes you to perform to the best. I was good at ideation and creative problem solving, but Darden pushed me to expand my horizon and helped round out my leadership skills by helping me to better understand decision making, intricacies of organizational behavior, teamwork experience and, most importantly, instilled in me a “work hard drive”to consistently deliver best results.