Rakhi Mehra
Rakhi Mehra
Home Region

Delhi, India

Undergrad Education

Oxford University, 03, BA Philosophy, Politics & Economics

Previous Experience

CARE India, program associate

HBS Activities

Social Enterprise Club, co-director of marketing; Management Consulting Club, Triathlon Club

“Being able to drop my strong judgments and be open to other opinions has been very transformational.”

Throughout her school years, Rakhi Mehra had been deeply focused on competitive swimming. But a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford sparked an entirely new passion for her: making social impact. "Oxford gave me the support and vision to consider the consequences of economics and politics on the communities around me," Rakhi says. "The intensity of intellectual discussion and debate gave me a new perspective on my home country. I felt a new sense of responsibility for the effects of growth on India."

Applying an athlete's intensity to her new social interests, Rakhi fulfilled a summer internship with Dr. Jeffrey Sachs of Columbia University, "to look at innovative, sustainable ways to reduce poverty and meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals for 2015." A subsequent direct meeting with Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus inspired Rakhi to launch her own pilot project, Rickshaw Bank in Guhwati, India, based on the successful microfinance model. "We proved its self-sustainability," Rahki says, "and the bank is now in four cities." The Wall Street Journal acknowledged the bank's success with a WSJ South Asia Award for Innovation.

Preparing for emerging challenges

Post-graduation work at CARE in India exposed Rakhi to the challenges of managing a large organization. "Though my heart is in policy," she says, "I realized that effective leadership and management is critical for implementation."  She applied to HBS because it "gives you all-around skills that help you respond to opportunities and challenges as they emerge."

"I couldn't anticipate how fascinating the case method is," Rakhi says. "I came with my own biases and personal views. But our case discussions allow us to investigate different scenarios and learn from each other. Being able to drop my strong judgments and be open to other opinions has been very transformational."

Leadership, Rakhi believes, is not necessarily an individual endeavor. "My colleagues are exceptionally talented people," she says. "Here, everyone has a leadership role. The biggest thing I've learned is that leadership emerges when everyone works together toward effectively managed expectations."

Learning by doing

As one the directors of the 2007 Social Enterprise Conference, Rakhi applied her classrooms skills to a very practical test. "We had a thousand participants and sixty panelists," she says. "Success meant anticipating potential downfalls and planning around them.

For her summer internship, Rakhi will accept a consultancy position with Katzenbach Partners in New York where she will "solve problems across a range of industries." Looking beyond her MBA, Rakhi plans on using consulting as a way to learn more about effective organizational structures and cultures. "In the long term," Rakhi says, "I would like to return to CARE to lead efforts for the next ten to twenty years."