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Neeti Bandodker T'17

“I’m passionate about the power of business to drive social impact.”

Read My Story

WHY MBA

During my undergrad, I started becoming interested in the social sector. My college was very far away from home in an underdeveloped part of the country. For the first time, I was exposed to the harsh reality of poverty in India. I got interested in the social sector and was intrigued by micro-finance—offering small loans to women entrepreneurs so they could make better lives for themselves and their families. After college, I worked for a consulting company in the social sector which I really enjoyed. But after a couple of years, I felt I was plateauing in terms of learning and growing professionally. I also realized that many of my colleagues had a business background—whether in consulting, investing, or an MBA degree—and I could see how they added a lot of value to the conversation. Their skillset was highly valued in the social sector. That planted the seed. I wanted to complement my knowledge of social issues with a business background.

WHY TUCK

My first interaction with Tuck was with a T’14, Stephanie O’Brien, who was in India for an OnSite Global Consulting project. She attended a health conference in India, and I just happened to be at the same conference. I was very impressed by her and how friendly and warm she was, and the way in which she described Tuck was alluring. I did more research and was interested in the idea of being in an immersive community away from the city, which was similar to the experience I had during my undergrad. I also knew that Tuck had a strong reputation in consulting, which was the industry I knew I wanted to head into after Tuck.

AN INDEPENDENT STUDY ON A SOCIAL ISSUE

I worked with the Center for Business, Government & Society (CBGS) as a fellow. Although I already had a background in the social sector, I wanted exposure to the government and regulatory perspective. CBGS fellows are required to conduct an independent study on a topic of their interest. I worked with Professor Curt Welling and chose to focus on GMOs because I knew it was a space where there’s a lot of misconception—it’s a murky area. People don’t understand the science, but food demand globally is growing, and the only way to meet the demand is scientific innovation when it comes to how we grow our foods. Yet there is a contrasting opinion that food needs to be organic and a question of whether GMOs are bad for you. My group looked at how a business operating in that space deals with all these challenges. How do you deal with consumer demand and regulations and still do well as a company? We looked at the U.S. which has a pretty open approach to GMOs as well as Europe which has more of a “guilty until proven innocent” approach when it comes to GMOs—they’re not allowed. We looked at why the approaches are different and how global business can deal with those regulations. We learned that a lot of smaller companies that are non-GMO and offer more organic products are becoming stronger and have more political clout. They’re able to influence the market.

INITIATIVE FOR WOMEN SYMPOSIUM

A highlight of my time at Tuck was organizing the 4th annual Initiative for Women Symposium. Kirstyn Lipson (T’17) and I were co-chairs and our biggest objective was to create more awareness about the event at Tuck. It’s very new, and it still suffers from a branding and recognition problem. I think we were successful in creating buzz around the event. Another objective we had was to get more men involved. This is not just a women’s issue. It’s a problem that all of us need to address and we need to think about it together. We worked with the “Manbassador Initiative,” which was launched this year, to get more men involved in the conversation. Lastly, we wanted to focus on the content of the Symposium and make it a bigger event. We had a greater number of panels and speakers and topics that appealed to a wide range of people: a panel on entrepreneurship, a panel on senior female leaders in the corporate sector, a male perspective panel. We also organized WIB Week for the first time which included various activities throughout the week to create buzz leading up to the Symposium.

A STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM

I’ve achieved my goals in terms of learning and growing. The best thing about Tuck has been the community. I’ve been constantly amazed by not only how smart and passionate my classmates are, but also how grounded and helpful they are. When I first came to Tuck, I was intimidated by how accomplished they were. But throughout my time at Tuck, I have been overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness and support. Being surrounded by such peers has made me a more self-aware and empathetic person.

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