Photo: Ashish Mahendra
Ashish Mahendra
Class of 2010
Concentrations:  Supply Chain Management, Marketing

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

As the sun dawned on the fateful day of 18th of August, the MBA class of 2010 at the Broad School took its first steps on the journey towards professional excellence.

For some of us, those first few steps were indeed some the boldest and the longest we have taken in a long time. Leaving our friends and families halfway across the world, we were getting ready to go back to school again in a country most of us had never set foot on before. So here we were; in a country that’s called the land of opportunity, ready to rub shoulders with a select group of handpicked professionals and learn from some of the best brains in academia.

Although the Broad admissions and administration staff had done everything to help us International students over the summer, any doubts and concerns we had disappeared the moment we walked in to the Kellogg center conference room that morning. The Warm welcome and the smiling faces that greeted us that morning lay to rest any concerns we had as international students at the Broad School.

And the speeches by Dean Lashbrooke, Associate dean Speier and Dr. Shaw only reinforced our belief with which we decided to join the Broad school. Clichéd as it may sound; the Broad School is a family. And I must add a rather close knit one. It’s a family with members that speak different languages, come from different cultures and traditions. But at the end of each day of the orientation week, it was evident that this family understands and communicates in the same language, the language of cooperation, empathy and friendship.

The first big challenge our class faced was the Case competition. We only had 20 hours, spread over 3 days to read, analyze and present a case to a team of corporate and academic judges. The entire class was divided up into teams of 5 or 6 people. Every single team at least had an international student. For me as an international student, the biggest challenge was to break the cross cultural barriers in no time so we could focus on the case. In my team as in every other, my American colleagues ensured I got all the help when it came to understanding the economic and cultural sensitivities associated with the American retail business. What was also surprising was their eagerness to understand the case problem from my point of view, the point of view of a person who’s only starting to learn to assimilate the American societal values.

The harder we worked, the more pressure we were under, the more comfortable we got with each other as colleagues. On the day of the competition, there was never any hint of any malice between the competing teams. Teams won and teams lost, everyone learned a great deal about ways and means to approach and analyze problems. Friends became closer, acquaintances became friends.

For me, the best learning at the orientation week has been the fact that at Broad, Teamwork and personal excellence go hand in hand. The first few steps have been memorable. I’m sure the remaining ones will be even better.