Interview 3: Niharika Bhargava

Niharika Bhargava, (University of Cambridge, BA in General Engineering and an MEng in Instrumentation and Control), Harvard

Before starting her MBA at Harvard, Niharika enjoyed a career working as an automotive engineer at Jaguar Land Rover (JLR). She began her career at JLR, working on the calibration and control of powertrain systems, including projects to establish and improve the management of recurring failures. Being passionate about autonomous vehicles, Niharika then transitioned to JLR’s research team working on the development of their self-driving car. She was a member of the UK Autodrive consortium, trialling the use of connected and autonomous vehicles on public roads. She worked on the development of in-house algorithms as well as their deployment and testing.

When did you start thinking about doing an MBA?
I first started thinking about doing an MBA myself while working on a self-driving car project for Jaguar Land Rover. Although I loved solving the technical challenges, I realised the immensely multi-faceted and complex scope of commercialising automated transportation. It was during this time that I decided to pursue an MBA to be able to solve not only the technical challenges but also the business, legal and leadership challenges in making automated transportation an everyday reality.

What do you hope to achieve through your MBA experience?
At business school, I am looking forward to interacting with people from diverse backgrounds and learning about new perspectives. An MBA will help me gain fundamental business knowledge, develop my leadership skills and build life-long relationships that enable me to be a better leader and contributor in  society.

How will you use your MBA to further your career?
I aspire to be a leader who can solve future transportation and mobility problems using technology. An MBA will provide me with the business acumen, which combined with my technical background, will better equip me to tackle the future technological and business challenges facing the mobility industry. In 5-years’ time, I envisage leading strategy and new product development of driverless transportation.

What are your expectations of being part of the SMF network after business school?
One of the things that drew me to apply for the Sainsbury Management Fellowship was the vast and diverse network it brings along with it. I am really excited to interact with the network and look forward to learning from people who have made a career switch similar to me. A support system like this will enhance my career and I look forward to contributing back to the community one day.

How do you hope to support SMF after you graduate from business school?
I attribute my achievements to date to the love, support and advice I have received from my friends, family and mentors. I strongly believe that we grow as a society when we collaborate and learn from each other. I wish to contribute back through the mentorship programme, especially as a role model to encourage more women in engineering as well as business.

How did you learn about the SMF scholarship?
It was while speaking to a friend and an MBA student about applications and financial support that he suggested considering the SMF scholarship. He then introduced me to an SMF scholar who further explained the benefits of the scholarship.

What tip would you give to someone seeking financial support to do an MBA?
My advice would be to start your research early and be persistent with it, it definitely pays off! The best places to start are your intended schools and the people who have been through the MBA process. People from similar backgrounds will be able to tell you about country-specific or industry-specific scholarships. Do not feel shy asking about financial support, it is a big investment, and everyone goes through the dilemma of how to fund it. Your school is likely to offer scholarships too and will publish various forms of funding.

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