When Diya Sikka, MBA2018, began her studies at Harvard Business School, she was not sure where her career would be headed after graduation. “I had spent the previous few years working in operations, product innovation, and research for CVS Health,” Diya stated. “However, I wondered if I should branch out into a different health care industry or even continue my career in the health care sector.”

As an RC, Diya learned about the HBS Health Care Initiative’s (HCI) alumni mentor program and she felt it would help navigate her next steps. The Mentor Program is one of the most robust offerings of the HCI. Hundreds of alumni who work across all health care industries and within all functional business roles volunteer their time to mentor HBS students. The list of alumni volunteers is anonymized, but still includes their company, role, and career bio. Students are then given the opportunity to choose who among the list they would like to be matched. The HCI then strives to pair students with their first or second alumni choices and does so with a 90% success rate.    

When Diya received the spreadsheet with all of the mentors, she spent time reading their roles and bios, made her selections, and submitted her requests to the HCI. After an optimization process, the HCI matched Diya with Blake Slansky, the Divisional Vice President for Healthcare Segment Development and Integration at Walgreens.

“Working for Walgreen’s, Blake had a similar background to my experience at CVS,” recalled Diya. “It was great to speak with someone senior that could give me sage advice. He really helped me narrow my focus by offering objective insight and talking through my goals and concerns. My conversations with Blake helped me confirm that I did still want to pursue a career in health care.”

Alumni from HBS are one of the best resources that the School has to offer. Few things can compare to the wisdom, insight and perspective that one’s professional experience brings to a student like Diya who is planning her career. The HCI works closely with many alumni throughout the year. We often hear from them that when they were a student, an alum answered the phone when they called…and now that they’re an alum, it feels great to and pay it forward.

Diya is confident that her mentor relationship with Blake will continue even though she’s graduated. She feels that Blake is very invested in her career goals and she still reaches out to him to discuss projects. 

If you are an alum of HBS and would like volunteer to mentor students and/or fellow alumni, you can sign up here!