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A focus on community

MBA student Priyanka Nanda
Having a meaningful academic experience is more than studying and making good grades. It’s also about social activities that help you enhance friendships and build your network.

From day one of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s full-time MBA Program, Priyanka Nanda (MBA ’19) knew she would focus more of her time being an actively engaged member of the student body. The School’s sense of community is a key factor for many students who choose UNC Kenan-Flagler and Nanda was no different.

Nanda earned her undergraduate degree in computer engineering from the University of Mumbai and then came to the U.S. to earn her master’s degree in computer science from the University of California in San Diego.

“During my master’s I spent two years doing research, exploring algorithm problem-solving,” Nanda says. She wasn’t thinking about earning an MBA yet — she was just focused on enhancing her technical skills.

Her next step was taking a position as a software developer at OSIsoft LLC in San Leandro, California.

“I was given the first project to prototype a smart connector. I got to interact with a lot of teams and really drove the entire project from scratch,” Nanda says. She enjoyed the coding as well as managing and owning the project. Then she started to manage more projects at OSIsoft, which sparked her interest in earning her MBA.

“That’s when I started thinking about wanting to do more than programming. My manager pushed me to explore different projects and find solutions for various challenges,” says Nanda. After three years with the company, Nanda realized she wanted to get an MBA. She spoke with the company’s director of marketing who is a UNC Kenan-Flagler graduate.

“I found that people at UNC Kenan-Flagler were more responsive than other schools and everyone talked about it being a great community to be in,” she says. Several conversations later, she decided to apply and then made the move to Chapel Hill.

“I really like the community here. I’ve made a lot of friends and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as many supportive people as I do here at the Business School,” Nanda says. The School’s culture. “The school environment is great.”

Community is one of the School’s core values, as well as teamwork — something that resonates with Nanda.

“I have always been a team player,” Nanda says. “I need to have an understanding of what’s going on in a company and to do that, I need to be able to work with people to learn the knowledge they have so I can excel and make a better product.”

While earning her master’s degree in San Diego, Nanda focused more on coursework instead of being apart of the School’s community and engaging with classmates. At the Business School, her goal is to be more integrated into the community.

She’s already made strides, taking on leadership roles in various clubs. She’s the vice president of communications for the Business Technology Club, MBA Student Association vice president of international experience and co-president of the UNC Kenan-Flagler dance club. But that’s just the beginning of what Nanda hopes to achieve at the Business School.

She wants to make sure all students feel like they’re home when they come to the School.

“There are so many activities to participate in. Explore them all to see which ones you enjoy. This is the time to experiment who you network and socialize with,” Nanda says. Because you never know who you might work with, or for, in the future.

And speaking of the future, after graduation Nanda plans to stay in the technology industry but in a management role where she can devise solutions to business challenges. She experienced a taste of this during a summer internship at Google where she was a partner technology manager for Google Technical Services, part of the sales operation department.

“I worked on developing new ways of leveraging machine-learning techniques to generate customer insights to drive products and support,” Nanda says.

Part of her Business School experience included a two-week intensive course at the Stockholm School of Economics.

“The program was structured around learning how entrepreneurship works and how the society and global economy supports new businesses. We visited Ericsson and DeLaval and learned how they innovate and drive their businesses,” Nanda says. “It was a fantastic experience and I’ve made some good friends.”