Cambridge Judge MBA Alumna Shortlisted as “MBA Star”
The Women of the Future Awards were created to provide a platform to recognize remarkable women in business in the United Kingdom. For the 2017 awards, Harshitha Balini, a recent Cambridge Judge Business School graduate (MBA ’17), was shortlisted in the “MBA Star” category.
The MBA Star category is open to women aged 35 and under who obtained their degree within the past three years. To be eligible, applicants must display “exceptional vision, talent, and promise.”
Balini was shortlisted due to her accomplishments during her MBA program, as well as her experiences outside of it. Currently a product strategy manager at Expedia London, Balini served as co-chair of the Wo+Men’s Leadership Centre while a Judge student. The center is focused on addressing gender diversity in senior leadership positions.
We caught up with Balini to learn more about the award as well as her time at Cambridge Judge. Don’t miss our exclusive interview.
Clear Admit: What was the greatest lesson you learned during your Cambridge Judge MBA?
Harshitha Balini: The power of collaboration. When a group of people have a common objective and they are willing to collaborate, you will always have a greater result. My MBA class was filled with the finest set of individuals I’ve ever met, and each one was and is always willing to help and grow together. Every complex problem we had, we learned to deal with it as a group and support each other along the way.
I also learned that something as commercial as technology can be used to make a difference in people’s lives. You can combine business and social innovation, and the potential opportunity is huge.
CA: How specifically did your MBA program help you in your current career?
HB: My post-MBA goal was to focus on the tech industry and move to strategy roles. Being at Cambridge gave me many opportunities to work on several consulting projects focused on both my interest areas (tech and strategy). For example, I interned at Expedia as a product strategist, and post-graduation took on the same role full time.
Apart from this, I also wanted to focus on women’s leadership initiatives and work on women’s empowerment. Judge’s Wo-Men’s Leadership Centre gave me an opportunity to build on my passion and work on issues focused on diversity in professional settings.
I haven’t been successful bridging my two passions yet, but I’m working on them both thanks to Judge.
CA: Post graduation, what part of your MBA program continues to have the biggest impact?
HB: Overall, the network that Judge offers has been incredibly valuable. My current classmates along with Judge’s alumni, faculty, and the program team have had the biggest impact on me.
CA: Why did you choose Cambridge Judge for your MBA?
HB: There are several reasons why I chose Cambridge Judge for my MBA program.
First was the fact that Cambridge is a tech hub for the United Kingdom (also called Silicon Fen), which means that there were a lot of options that I could tap into with regards to the technology industry—one of my key interests. I am also keen on marketing and consulting, and Judge offers a great platform for these concentrations.
Then, there were my first experiences at Judge. When I visited for my interview day, I was extremely pleased by how much importance the school gave to collaboration and all-around development. It was also obvious very quickly that Judge offers a class mix—size, diversity, etc.—that is very exciting.
Finally, I chose Cambridge Judge for its many unique faculty and practical learning opportunities, including the Cambridge Venture Project, the MBA Global Consulting Project, and varied internships. Plus, the one-year program with accelerated learning was very attractive because it offers in-depth study but requires only a short time commitment.
CA: What does it mean to you to be shortlisted for the MBA Star award?
HB: The awards are a great source of motivation and inspiration for me, and it was an honor to be shortlisted. But more than anything, the opportunity opens up access to a network of women who are genuinely vested in each other’s growth.
It is a prestigious national award that will open up many doors for me and provide huge career opportunities. It will also give me an opportunity to take advantage of the invaluable Women of the Future network and to share my vision to make a difference with mentors who will support and help scale my vision.
CA: For prospective or incoming MBA students, what is the one piece of advice you would give them as they begin?
HB: Be open. Be open to trying out new projects and keep pushing yourself to get into avenues you haven’t been to or done before. I think an MBA program has so much to offer, and it can definitely overwhelm you. But use this opportunity to talk to as many people as possible—hear different ideas, participate in case competitions and conferences, and challenge yourself. If you come in with a very specific and targeted outlook, you will take very little back from your MBA.