Real Humans of the University of Washington Foster School of Business
Sumitra Sukumaran, UW Foster Hybrid MBA
Hometown: Mumbai, India
Undergraduate Institution & Major: University of Mumbai, major in Chemical Engineering, Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Pre-MBA Work Experience: I worked for eight years in product technology development, followed by one year (present role) in business operations and strategy at Intel.
Why business school? Why now? I was at a turning point where I realized I wanted to expand the scope and breadth of my learning and my career journey. I had a technical background and extensive engineering experience, but I was missing insight into how a business is run. Going to business school and switching career paths gave me the opportunity to grow.
Why the UW Foster Hybrid MBA program? What factors figured most prominently into your decision of where to attend? Foster’s academic rigor, student body diversity, strong presence in the North West, excellent faculty and staff and ROI drew me to the school. The Hybrid MBA program delivered all these advantages, combined with the flexibility of a distance program that made sense for me as a busy professional in a demanding career with a family.
What do you think is your most valuable or differentiating contribution to your MBA class? Going into the program, I had no experience in business administration. The perspective I brought to class was that of an engineer in a highly technical role, and I was surprised to see how my background helped me comprehend and contribute in our classes. I was constantly drawing on and applying my previous experience, which goes to show how a strong desire to learn and a solid work ethic are the main requirements of business school.
Fun fact that didn’t get included on your application? I speak four languages and spend all my free time chasing after my four year old.
Post-MBA career interests? I am interested in general management and strategy. What motivates me is maximizing organizational efficiency and solving complex, strategic issues. Ultimately, I want to be championing a stronger intersection of technology and business operations.
Advice to Prospective MBA Applicants:
One thing you would absolutely do again as part of your application process? I would apply! It was a huge leap of faith to switch career paths and go back to school, and it was definitely worth it. I would also invest time in researching schools and programs: I could have missed the hybrid program if I had not extensively researched all school offerings.
One thing you would change or do differently? I would have made the switch earlier in my career: looking back, I was always interested in business but put off making the decision to go to business school.
Greatest highlight so far at UW Foster? The amazing student body: I am so fortunate to be part of a strong, diverse community full of some of the best and brightest minds. We have forged deep, life long connections in our cohort.
One thing about the UW Foster that you didn’t expect before arriving? The sheer size of the university and the focus on entrepreneurial incubation.
Thing you were most anxious about in your first year? The thing I was most anxious about was how I would do it all: motherhood, career, and a demanding degree. Everything is working out with a lot of encouragement and support from my family, workplace, and fellow students: it truly takes a village!
Thing you were most excited about in your first year? The opportunity to become a student again! Investing time in learning new concepts and subjects and getting to go back to school to immerse in a different field was amazing.