Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Ramprashanth Mohanasundaram, Harvard Business School

“As an enthusiastic generalist, I love solving new business challenges with a focus on empowerment – I firmly believe inclusivity can have both social and business impact.”

hometown: Chennai, Tamil Nadu

Fun fact about you: Coming from a marginalized farming community, I’m passionate about inspiring and empowering those who lack resources. I have focused most of my efforts to date on growing my village through various endeavors such as weekly tutoring and mentoring programs for children, establishing a Corpus fund to generate sustainable cash flows for low-income students, and assisting with local outreach at the village temple.

Elementary school and major: B.Tech + M.Tech: Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai, India; Mechanical engineering specializing in product design

Last employer and job title: WestBridge Capital (late-stage VC/PE), investment analyst

What was your first impression of the Harvard Business School MBA students and alumni you have met so far? Tell us your best Harvard Business School story yet. The first time I heard about Harvard Business School was in my sophomore year from a very close mentor who was writing his essay for the 2+2 program. I remember being both surprised by the fundamental and introspective nature of the question and amused by its open-ended nature. Every year since then, I’ve found that the most passionate and dedicated seniors have dreamed of and fought to join HBS. Later, as I began to discover my passion for solving business challenges that impact change, I was drawn to HBS and learned more about what makes it special. Working closely with senior HBS alumni in global companies, I was inspired by their focus on the coexistence of business and social impact and subsequently by HBS’s inclusive and thought-provoking culture. Immersing myself in such an environment will empower me to do what excites me most – empowering the underserved by giving them what society has denied them for far too long, a fair chance at life.

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What makes the Case Method so attractive to learn and become a better leader? My experience in consulting, investing, and technology has taught me this lesson: while strategy development is an important element, execution is most important and often the greatest challenge. I believe that the case method, which puts a student in the shoes of a manager in a very real business situation, is the closest thing to a practical situation. Furthermore, this approach also takes into account the lives and emotions of the people who will be affected by the decision, which could be lost in simple theoretical strategies.

Apart from your classmates and cases, What was the most important part of the Harvard Business School MBA program that made you choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The renowned alumni network of over 85,000 successful business leaders was another important aspect of the HBS program.

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What course, club, or activity at Harvard Business School excites you the most?? As someone looking to build businesses in the future, I am most passionate about entrepreneurship and VC/PE clubs.

When you think of Harvard Business School, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Why? Brand. I firmly believe that HBS is one of the most respected and desired brands in the world. As someone who has been denied access to resources, being a part of this brand has not only been a gain for me, it has been a gain for my entire community.

Describe your greatest achievement in your career so far: I take great pride in developing and running a mentoring program for my village children who come from low-income, marginalized backgrounds. Professionally, my greatest achievement has been co-leading WestBridge’s Rural Lending practice, investing $450 million and supporting rural lending institutions focused on enabling affordable credit for rural India – 40% of which still do be plagued by informal credit.

What made you decide to do an MBA at this point, and what are your hopes after you graduate? Three main reasons led to the decision to pursue an MBA. First, it was the career timing and clarity of my goals and what to do next. I want to educate myself and prepare before building my career. Second was to learn about and experience the global fintech wave, which I believe is critical to India’s growth, especially for the underserved. The last reason was the contact with people, both colleagues and alumni. Learning about different perspectives opens me to new cultures and building trust-based relationships with like-minded people will accelerate my path to creating impact.

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What have you read, seen, or heard recently that you would highly recommend for aspiring MBAs? Why? I would definitely recommend watching videos of the HBS fall method, something extremely unique to the HBS style.

What other MBA programs have you applied to? Wharton and Booth

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission to the Harvard Business School MBA program? My HBS journey began when I read the simple but powerful self-introspective HBS essay question at age 19. Having pursued many short-term goals over the first 25 years of my life, the question helped me stop and reflect on my life so far and my journey forward. It is very important to look at the application process not just as an application, but as an opportunity to discover yourself on a personal and fundamental level. Understanding yourself and connecting your past roots to future aspirations is crucial to cracking the admissions process.

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