When Shilpi Wadhwa (MBA ’14) decided to move thousands of miles from her home in Delhi, India, to the United States just a few years ago, she was well on her way to becoming a general surgeon through a residency in St. Louis. But now a first-year student in UNC Kenan-Flagler’s MBA program, Wadhwa is far from the operating room and on track toward an entirely different career with a double concentration in marketing and healthcare.
“Surgery didn’t fit the lifestyle I wanted and I wasn’t as happy as I thought I was going to be,” Wadhwa says. “I really wanted to gain perspective from different people and different industries, and an MBA is the one area where you can customize your experience and the courses you take.” Choosing to only apply to three business schools, Wadhwa says she was very selective. “It was important to me to apply to the top schools. Business school is a huge commitment and I wanted that return on my investment,” she says. “I wanted to go somewhere that fits with who I am, that’s competitive but not cutthroat, and has a collaborative teamwork atmosphere.” UNC Kenan-Flagler exceeded her expectations.
Wadhwa says that coming from a non-business background, she struggled a bit for the first few months, but found that her team within the program was more than willing to help and encourage her. Furthermore, after becoming involved in a number of clubs and taking leadership positions, Wadhwa found that she was able to make a lasting difference. “With so many leadership opportunities, the school has brought out the best in me,” she says. “I could see the impact I was making on the school and I feel like I’m leaving a legacy behind, which is an experience I didn’t expect to have.”
Next year, Wadhwa will serve as the vice president of external affairs for Carolina Women in Business, and as the vice president of communications for the MBA Student Association. She has also participated in the international business club and worked as a first year liaison for the marketing club. “Being a part of these clubs has helped me with some of my personal goals,” Wadhwa says. “Before I came to business school, I had no experience directly managing a large group, but working with MBASA will challenge me to coordinate and help facilitate communication between all of the clubs in the school.”
On the professional side, Wadhwa says one of her primary goals in pursuing an MBA was to prepare for her dream career in a biopharmaceutical company with a strong market presence and a reputation for giving back to the community – and with an upcoming sales and marketing internship with Amgen this summer, Wadhwa’s goal is well within reach. However, she credits at least some of that success to UNC Kenan-Flagler.
“Every step of the way, there was a person helping me with my resume, my cover letter, doing mock interviews,” she says. “I’m really grateful for all of the resources we have available to us.”
Wadhwa, who was born and brought up in Delhi and completed medical school in a small college town in southern India, says she initially sought a career as a surgeon because loved making a difference with her hands. “Surgery appealed to me because you see the results so quickly – in a few days you see patients starting to get better. I loved how visible that difference was.” Working with Amgen, a company that gives back 20 percent of its profits to medical research, Wadhwa will once again make a difference in patients’ lives – in a new way.