Shaila Ittycheria
Shaila Ittycheria
Home Region

Plainsboro, NJ

Undergrad Education

Arizona State University, 2004

Previous Experience

Microsoft

HBS Activities

Entertainment and Media Club, TechMedia Club, Social Enterprise Club, CSR Think Tank Initiative, South Asian Business Association

“I wanted a place where I could encounter the richest set of perspectives and views outside my own.”

In college, Shaila Ittycheria found an attraction to business and finance. To understand the practical application of finance in a variety of settings, she entered Microsoft's Finance Rotation Program. There, she worked in four areas for six months each over a period of two years. "I built a core set of skills in finance," says Shaila, "but became more intrigued by the business groups' strategy teams." She joined the Online Services Group to work on acquisitions strategies. By the time she left, Shaila was a Mergers and Acquisitions Manager.

"Hands down, some of the sharpest people I met at Microsoft were HBS alumni," Shaila says. Something else impressed her as well: "I was the only U.S.-born person on the team." They encouraged Shaila to do two things, she says: "To get an MBA to gain as much competitive advantage as I could. And they emphasized that there was a world of perspectives I had to be aware of — points of view that would inform my decision-making."

Leadership that has many levels

Shaila was accepted to three MBA programs and was initially attracted to a school with a much smaller class size than at HBS. "I thought the smaller campus would be an advantage," says Shaila, "but when I to came to HBS for Admitted Students' Weekend, I was incredibly impressed by the down-to-earth people I continued to meet. I realized I wanted a place where I could encounter the richest set of perspectives and views outside my own. At HBS, the diversity extends well beyond the classroom walls. Here, you find a range of perspectives you can apply to your core issues: determining a career path, developing a supportive network, finding resources for building a business."

While Shaila came to HBS to find practical answers for urgent business issues, she also found a deeper perspective on the meaning of leadership that she had not anticipated. A particular Leadership and Corporate Accountability class stands out for her, when Shaila and her classmates discussed a case in which an Islamic employee of an Israeli company was harassed and discouraged by hostility from fellow employees after the bombings that took place on the Gaza Strip. "We talked about our responsibility as managers," Shaila says. "What's our role in this kind of situation? How do we manage employees who are acting out of fear? Suddenly, I realized that the role of a manager had many more levels than I had expected. You're more than a voice for yourself or your corporation. Sometimes, you have to speak out on fundamental human needs. Beyond corporate rules, missions, and mandates, leadership applies across all facets of life. It is a role that knows no bounds in its application, and HBS is constantly reminding us to never forget that. I never thought I would be empowered and emboldened to be an agent of change based on a mere HBS case discussion."

Deep support

Shaila has also been deeply impressed by HBS' faculty and support staff. "It's unbelievable how far above and beyond the call of duty professors will go for us," Shaila says. "They're truly motivated by teaching. And MBA Career Services has been amazing. I assumed that with my interests in digital media, I'd be on my own. But their resources provided me with more than 20 relevant opportunities for summer internships." With their help, Shaila has found a digital-media placement that, she says, "will help me get a sense of the industry and how I might proceed in it after graduation."