Sainsbury Management Fellows

Interview 4: Mukunth Kovaichelvan

Mukunth Kovaichelvan (CEng MEng Hons, University of Warwick), Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

Before starting the MMM dual degree (MBA + MS – Design Innovation) at Kellogg, Mukunth worked in a wide variety of roles at Rolls-Royce for over seven years. Most recently, he worked in the strategy and business development team at Rolls-Royce, creating business plans for products, technologies and countries. Prior to this role, he worked in various engineering functions such as design and manufacturing at Rolls-Royce. His engineering projects included managing manufacturing simulation research in university research centres and leading the design of aero-engine structural components.

What inspired you to study for an MBA?
My interest and knowledge of aerospace markets led me to the strategy and business development team at Rolls-Royce. I enjoyed this role and the intellectually stimulating challenges that it presented. This experience inspired me to pursue an MBA in order to create a foundation in business for my future career.

I have a passion for sustainability. By pursuing an MS in Design Innovation in conjunction with an MBA as part of the MMM dual degree at Kellogg, I wish to develop a design-thinking mindset alongside business acumen in order to lead the development of market-aligned, innovative and sustainable products and solutions.

How did you learn about the SMF scholarship?
I learned about the SMF scholarship from a personal friend and colleague who was also applying to MBA programmes. I was pleasantly surprised to find several former colleagues in the list of previous scholarship winners. I reached out to them and received lots of insightful advice on admissions and scholarships. The SMF network helped me even before I became a part of it.

What does winning the scholarship mean to you?
I am truly honoured to join the SMF Fellowship, which contains some of the most successful engineers in business. I am looking forward to receiving advice, guidance and mentoring from the SMF network to help me navigate some crucial career decisions that I will be making over the next few years. I’m grateful to SMF and the Royal Academy of Engineering for relieving some of the large financial burden that I am about to take on for my professional and personal development at Kellogg. I hope to contribute to the SMF community in the future as a mentor and donor.

What is your first impression of business school?
I am part of the first batch of students to enter Kellogg’s brand new ultra-modern $250 million campus on the shore of Lake Michigan outside Chicago. It’s truly impressive. The Kellogg community is also very diverse and inclusive.

The academic experience has been very enriching. I have been learning everything from marketing and strategy to leadership from some very articulate and passionate professors. I am also pushing myself to get out of my comfort zone and get involved in a wide variety of activities outside academics.

How do you think your MBA skills will take you forward in your career?
I would like to strengthen my functional, leadership, communication and interpersonal skills to better influence customers, colleagues and other stakeholders in my future business career. I will also seek to develop my global cross-cultural perspectives during my time in Kellogg.  I look forward to building lifelong relationships within the Kellogg community and with classmates who share similar interests and aspirations.

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