Kiran Gandhi
Home Region

New York, NY

Undergrad Education

Georgetown University, Mathematics, 2011

Previous Experience

Interscope Geffen A&M Records (Universal Music Group); Rhythm & Culture Music (ESL Music); Office of the Mayor, NY

HBS Activities

Entertainment & Media Club, Women's Student Association, Business Analytics & Data Club, LGBTSA

“When the Spice Girls came around, they were my heroines.”

What’s the one thing you’re most excited about learning at HBS?

The reason I’m here is to be in the classroom! In my previous job, I was the first digital analyst for Interscope Records. My boss had an MBA, and I realized that many people in my company who didn’t have a background in digital were turning to her for leadership. She would have answers because of the flexibility and creativity that an MBA can teach you – the ability to pull from different hard and soft skill sets and apply them to dynamic problems. My goal at HBS is to use the key teaching points from our many cases to think more critically about unmet needs in the music industry. For example, I loved learning about “blue ocean” strategy, the idea that you can make competition irrelevant by innovating in new market spaces that are ripe for growth.

This year, I started Music Minds, a think-tank style collective that brings Berklee, HBS, and MIT students together to discuss problems in the music industry. We’ve modeled our meetings on the Socratic method seen in the HBS classroom: Everyone gets reading material in advance so they can make informed contributions to the discussion, and I or the moderator that day asks probing questions to advance our ideas forward.

How do your HBS ambitions fit into the big picture of the world beyond?

I am most passionate about eliminating gender inequality in the media. My goal is to use music as a medium to diversify the often reductive presentation of women and women’s sexuality in pop culture. Many of my own understandings of gender roles were constructed by pop culture when I was a child. For example, I remember wondering why female characters had to be rescued all the time. Why can’t Jasmine be the hero instead of Aladdin? When the Spice Girls came around, they were my heroines. At the very least, I felt grateful that “girl power” was the marketing message they chose to sell. I want to first be someone who contributes to making the music industry a healthier business space for musicians to exist in. Then, I want to help shape the kind of content that’s released by using both my drumming and business skills to ensure that images released are sex-positive and authentic to a wide array of female experiences.

How are you pushing yourself?

We had to take TOM [Technology and Operational Management] last semester and I was so bad at it! But we had a case about Ideo, a leading innovation and design firm that I had never heard of before, and I was so inspired by design thinking methodology. So this summer, I’ll be one of sixteen HBS students working with Ideo and the Harvard iLab on an assignment to invent new ways for Fidelity to attract young clients. I don’t plan on working for a bank or for Ideo after school, but I want to apply the design skills I learn to the music industry in the long term.

What might people find surprising about you?

That I was a math major in college. I guess because people think mathematics and creativity cannot co-exist. Yet my math background was the very thing that got me the rather creative data science role at the record label!!