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Neil Kulkarni T'16

“Tuck’s size allows students to jump in and work directly with professors and deans to implement change.”

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Why MBA? Why Tuck?

Getting an MBA was a chance for me to take a step back and figure out where I wanted to go in my career. I saw an MBA at Tuck as an opportunity to explore an area that I was interested in and had a passion for: tech. I wanted to test the hypothesis: Would this be the right fit for me in the long term, career-wise?
I also wanted a smaller school where I could get to know each and every one of my classmates—not just their names and their jobs prior to Tuck, but to understand each of their philosophies about things like leadership and innovation. Lastly, I realized that Tuck’s size allows students to jump in and work directly with professors and deans to implement changes that have a significant and lasting impact on the fabric of Tuck.

Exploring Tech at Tuck 

I knew when I came to Tuck, I wanted to explore tech as much as I could. I was elected technology chair on the Student Board which really allowed me to work on product management. For example, I worked with IT at Tuck to develop and launch a new SafeRides app, a ride-share service that helps students get home safely. 

My fellowship with the Center for Digital Strategies was another opportunity to explore my interest and engage with speakers and individuals who came to campus from the tech space. My final research project focused on the key success factors that technology firms from a developed market could use to enter a developing market. 

I also worked with Praveen Kopalle and Dean Matthew Slaughter to launch programming courses at Tuck, which was a real need I saw. When you go to a tech company, if you can talk the talk, or at least understand some of the challenges and difficulties that programmers face, you will be more successful in the long term. 

FAVORITE MOMENT

During my first year, I organized a trip to Costa Rica with other students. It started with only eight people who were interested in going. Before I knew it, there were 62 people who had signed up (over 20 percent of our class). First, we went to San Francisco, did a tech trek where we met with tech companies including Intel, Facebook, and Square, and then we headed to Costa Rica. It was a really unique bonding experience for a group of that size to travel together. It set the stage for the next year and a half at Tuck. 

THE SKINNY PANCAKE FYP

For my FYP, we were focused on helping the Skinny Pancake think through a lot of strategic issues. We had phenomenal conversations with people like the President of Union Square Hospitality Group (creators of Shake Shack) and the founder of Kigo Kitchen, a T’11, who shared some of their pitfalls and best practices. A lot of these conversations were coordinated through alumni, which showed that the alumni network is very supportive and responsive even outside of recruiting.

It was great to work on this type of a project—to think about growth strategy and help the Skinny Pancake think through new markets. When they expanded and added a new location right here in Hanover, it was just awesome to see that full picture and see the impact of your work. 

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