Claudia Kubowicz Malhotra (MBA ’00, PhD ’06) is a dedicated member of the UNC Kenan-Flagler family. In 1998 she entered the Full-Time MBA program and her story with the School continues to this day.
“I was working for J.P. Morgan on Wall Street, and I decided to pursue further education,” says Kubowicz Malhotra. “When I came to Chapel Hill, something clicked. Everyone was so welcoming.”
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She concentrated in marketing and consulting, and had a summer internship in marketing with Johnson & Johnson Medical in Arlington, Texas.
After graduating from the MBA program in 2000, Kubowicz Malhotra worked in consulting for McKinsey & Company in Warsaw, Poland. While there, she travelled to Paris and happened to meet Jim Dean, then associate dean of the MBA program at UNC Kenan-Flagler, who encouraged her to return to Carolina. She did just that, coming back to Chapel Hill to serve as the associate director of the Full-Time MBA program, and then went on to pursue her PhD in marketing.
“If you can, you do. It summarizes the UNC Kenan-Flagler culture.”
Today Kubowicz Malhotra is a clinical associate professor of marketing at UNC Kenan-Flagler where she teaches in in the full-time MBA program and Undergraduate Business Program (UBP). She received the Weatherspoon Award for Excellence in teaching undergraduate students in 2009.
Her dedication to how students learn best is evident in the new hybrid version of the Principles of Marketing course she developed for UBP in 2019. She combined the best of the physical learning environment with the capabilities of virtual learning. The new version of the course, which is partially online and partially in person, made a seamless transition to a completely virtual format in March 2020 when COVID-19 hit. As a required class for business majors, she offers six sections each year – with more planned for the future as the UBP expands.
From the start, Kubowicz Malhotra has served the School in many different ways.
“My philosophy is to say, ‘Yes,’” she says. “If the School needs me to judge a case competition or moderate a panel discussion, I’ll do it. If you can, you do. It summarizes the UNC Kenan-Flagler culture.” It’s also her way of ensuring students have extraordinary experiences inside and outside the classroom.
One way Kubowicz Malhotra serves the UNC Kenan-Flagler community is through STAR (Student Teams Achieving Results), a consulting program in which select MBA and Undergraduate Business students work together in small teams to provide solutions to a real problems corporate partners are facing. She has worked with students and some high-profile clients, including KIND Healthy Snacks, headed by Mike Barkley (MBA ’93). That project was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for students, and the STAR program as a highlight of their education, she says.
“I love the combination of undergrads and MBAs and the ability to guide and collaborate with only six students, who are working with a client on a real business challenge,” she says.
She also is a dedicated researcher. She focuses on brands and how they use new technology. How do brands leverage social media platforms to connect with new customers? How do brands get their messages to breakthrough in the social media world? These are among the questions she asks in her studies.
Kubowicz Malhotra, with her husband and colleague Arvind Malhotra, studied Twitter and Facebook to uncover best practices of how brands use each one to engage with customers.
Further research examined the Twitter activity of 25 CEOs of publicly traded companies, who were active on Twitter to find common patterns. They translated their research to offer valuable advice about how CEOs can leverage Twitter to communicate with stakeholders. A best practice that came out of this research is for CEOs to announce new products or share customer stories. Few CEOs maximize the potential of Twitter.
Clearly, work is a family affair. When the Malhotras are off duty, they spend time with their two sons, exploring the extensive parks and trails of their Chapel Hill neighborhood.
Kubowicz Malhotra is dedicated to both to education and making a difference at UNC Kenan-Flagler because it’s a special place, she says. “UNC Kenan-Flagler is my happy place, and I find joy in interacting with my amazingly talented, yet kind and humble, students and colleagues every day.”
She believes strongly in the value of education. As the only child of immigrant parents to the U.S., Kubowicz Malhotra learned first-hand how education can open doors to new opportunities. Her parents told her to focus on school, and that she has done.
“I feel incredibly fortunate – I’ve been a student in two programs, a staff member and a faculty member at UNC Kenan-Flagler,” says Kubowicz Malhotra.
“I love to give to the School to inspire, educate and mentor others on their personal and professional journeys. It’s my way of saying thank you to all those who held the door open for me, including my parents, husband, teachers, mentors and colleagues. It is now my honor to hold the door open so our students can attain an exceptional education and pursue their aspirations.”