When we meet prospective students at information sessions around the world they’re often curious about the student experience at HBS. How does HBS prepare students for the challenges of leadership? What is section life like? Why do so many MBA students change careers? What’s it like to learn through the case method? Our HBS Takeaways series is an effort to help prospective students understand life at HBS through the experiences of students who are about to graduate. 

Kiran Gandhi studied mathematics at Georgetown before pursuing a career in the music industry at Universal Music in Santa Monica. In her free time she also tours as the drummer for artist M.I.A (no big deal!).

Why did you decide to come to HBS?

I decided to come to HBS because I wanted to learn about other industries who had also been hit by severe disruption in the past. What strategies exist to shift business models? What tools are there to reimagine an entire industry? I felt like I could better serve the music industry and fellow artists by coming back with this critical knowledge. 

What surprised you the most about coming here?

I was surprised to find that the majority of lessons I learned at HBS were not only applicable in a business context but also in my personal life. Sometimes I think of HBS as “life school”!

What’s your favorite memory?

My favorite memory is when my LEAD professor, Ryan Raffaelli, wrote a song for our class on the last day, and performed it live for us in class!

Academically, what part of your HBS experience has been the most meaningful?

My brain has become so much more razor sharp here! I think the main skillset that the HBS case method drives home is the ability to take a whole variety of data and information that you are not familiar with, synthesize it, understand it and form a coherent opinion about it. Being the one to extract the most important inferences from a data set can empower an entire team to perform better and faster! 

What has been the toughest thing about being at HBS?

The toughest adjustment for me was moving from the music industry to a fairly regimented first semester! It felt intense to have so much of my time scheduled by school, to have to take required classes, and to have to be in the same seat at the same time every day. That kind of discipline was new and difficult for me, especially as a creative person. 

How has being here changed what kind of leader you are?

Being here has given me an even greater sense of purpose. I developed a style of leadership I call “Atomic Living,” whereby you identify the things that matter most to you, and make decisions explicitly based on whether or not the opportunity has the potential to nurture any of your core values. If they can, then you say “yes” to the choice,  you show up fired up and ready to give it your all, and continue exploring life!

What advice do you have to someone thinking of applying?

My best piece of advice would be: In your application and (fingers crossed!) interview, explain what you think you can contribute to HBS’s community: to both the faculty and the students.

What advice do you have for admitted students?

Try to have a sense of the things you want to nurture while here, so that you have a manifesto to guide your decisions about what to engage in and what not to. There is so much to get involved with that if you don’t have a guiding sense of what matters to you ahead of time, you may feel overwhelmed or that you are wasting time. Alternatively, when you are sure about what matters to you and you act on it, you won’t feel regretful or have “FOMO” (fear of missing out) about the activities you chose not to participate in. 

What is your biggest takeaway from HBS?

My takeaway is that good-hearted, thoughtful people are going into business. “Business” has always had this 1%, male energy to it. But I’ve met the people here who are changing that image of unearned privilege, and instead are using business theories and concepts to improve lives and deliver joy. I can’t wait to build with those people in the years beyond graduation.

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