Prior to starting her MBA at INSEAD, Meenal’s professional experience was primarily in the health sector in sub-Saharan Africa, where she worked with IBM Research and the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). After completing her PhD in Chemical Engineering, Meenal joined IBM Research Africa’s healthcare team, where she worked on healthcare projects across sub-Saharan Africa. At CHAI she gained hands-on experience of building large-scale health information systems through supporting CHAI teams in 10 countries to build more robust national HIV reporting systems.
What do you hope to achieve through your MBA experience?
As I have transitioned from research to building commercial products, I realised that I would benefit from having a broader business education. The MBA will provide me with a solid foundation in fundamental subjects such as accounting, finance and marketing, as well as a global network.
How will you use your MBA to further your career?
I am really excited about the future of health tech applications of machine learning and informatics research because of their potential to improve the quality and reduce the cost of healthcare. In 5 years’ time, I hope to be working on building and commercialising new health tech products that improve the quality, affordability and accessibility of healthcare services.
What are your hopes/expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
I am hoping to participate in the events and schemes organised by the SMF network, in particular, the mentoring scheme, both as a mentee and mentor. After working exclusively in Africa for several years, I also hope the SMF network will help me to broaden my professional network.
How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school?
I plan to participate as a mentor to young engineers, and I would also like to work with schemes that support women in engineering and with projects that create more engaging STEM education materials for schools.
When did you start thinking about doing an MBA?
I started thinking about doing an MBA after a couple of years in my first job after my PhD. Working in tech research in emerging markets, it became apparent that technical innovations often need to be accompanied by innovations in business models and organisational structures to really scale. I realised the broader skills set that an MBA offers would help me to maximise the impact of my work.
What did you learn by going through the scholarship application process?
Writing the application essays helped me to think through my post-MBA career goals. My interview was also a good taster of how the SMF network can help with mentorship, as my interviewers probed my goals, helped me to think through the various options and encouraged me to start thinking about entrepreneurship more seriously.
What difference has the scholarship made to you?
In the short term, the scholarship has alleviated much of the financial pressure of doing an MBA, allowing me to consider a wider range of post-MBA roles as it gives me the flexibility to think about starting my own venture rather than looking only for salaried positions. In the long term, I think the SMF network will be invaluable for support and mentorship as my career progresses.