I seek to become an influential professor of Strategic Management and Organization and hence, a Carlson Ph.D.
Business strategy is evolving quickly, especially as emerging markets reshape the global economy. These fast-growing markets are large sources of potential revenues, innovation, and competition for established developed-market players. For example, Wal-Mart has pursued a strategy of strengthening its presence in emerging markets such as China, Mexico and Brazil to boost revenues. GE has begun "reverse-innovating" by transferring elements of low-cost medical equipment (e.g., portable scanners) from developing markets to established ones. Furthermore, emerging-market players are becoming viable threats to MNCs, as reflected in recent M&A patterns: this year alone, more than 54 US firms, including Trinity Coal, AmeriSteel and Burger King, sold to emerging-market companies.
These trends, along with my roots in India’s poorest state, motivate me to study and enhance business strategy, especially those of players targeting or within emerging markets.
As an electrical-engineering undergraduate at NIT India, I was a top-10 student and intern at steel-player SAIL. Later, with the construction firm Larsen and Toubro, I helped develop strategic plan.
Enthralled by international strategy, I pursued an MBA at Costa Rica-based Harvard-affiliate INCAE, graduating first out of 94 students, with an emphasis in finance and economics. As a student I advised a software start-up and a top NASA scientist forming a Costa Rican subsidiary. A case I wrote on a Kimberly-Clark environmental issue is currently used in INCAE’s strategy track.
Post-MBA, I became an associate with Mesoamerica (formerly Bain Costa Rica), where I analyzed Central America’s largest beverage player’s product portfolio, resolved an acquisition-related boardroom conflict for a steel giant, and helped a PVC player analyze a Brazilian acquisition target. Subsequently, I became the CFO of Costa Rica’s Universidad Veritas, where I helped reformulate its strategy to expand the school to other Latin countries.
I want this bio to be something that will help to give you a sense of me, of the kind of person I would be if we were sharing coffee, going to lunch or taking a break from working late.
I was born in Patna, Bihar, India, in 1981, and still I am learning to know myself. My first name is Pankaj. As strange as this name may sound, it is a common name in India. Having a “generic” name in a country with almost 1 billion people has some advantages. First, there were so many students named Pankaj in my class that for roll call, I was Pankaj VIII. The VIII has majestic overtones; remember Henry VIII. Further, my name reminds me to persevere. Thanks to the other 808,382 people in India named Pankaj, the number 808382 in my Skype id represents the number of times I might have tried before succeeding in getting a unique id.
I am blessed with a dear family. My Father is a senior official with the Government of Bihar. He is a patient man who has listened to many questions from me. Rather than answering my questions, he would help me to find the answers. As a child I would ask, “Why does a tree stand, but a dog walk?” “Will heat from fires as bright as the sun help plants to grow?” “How do I put my brother’s toys back together?” I asked so many questions that before I started to go to school, I was nicknamed “question mark.” Although my child questions now seem amusing, it is from an awareness of adult questions that I have come to know parts of me and to understand some of life.
I lost my Mother early. For me and for my siblings, the loss of our Mother meant developing self-reliance, self-motivation and self-discipline. I have a supportive elder sister, who earned an MBA and works in the area of human resource management, and I have a younger brother who is a physician. My Grandfather was an inspiration to us all -- always working, always learning and always teaching.
My wife Vasundhara and I lived in Costa Rica for six years. We moved from India to Costa Rica in the first year of our marriage, pursing an adventure of discovery as partners. Our adventure in sharing life is a joint venture. Vasundhara works as a senior software developer. Socrates said, “By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you'll be happy; if you get a bad one, you'll become a philosopher.” Fortunately, my marriage does not confirm this observation by Socrates. I am happy to have the best “good wife” and, with her encouragement, I am able to study for a Doctor of “Philosophy” degree.
Other than work, I am an avid reader. My taste varies from literary classics such as “The Good Earth” to some books about economic policy such as “Fault Lines” and to other books about strategy such as “The Lords Of Strategy”. I enjoy watching Animal Planet and Discovery Channel. My favorite documentary is “The Corporation”, and I am a fan of cricket.
I value hard work and integrity. I believe these values have enabled Vasundhara and me to embrace our adventure of living on a different continent, to gain valuable work experience, to make good friends, and to feel at home in a once foreign culture. We seek new experiences. We have traveled to the U.S. and to Latin America. We share cooking, cleaning and shopping, me being “the first assistant.”
One day, I would like to fly. I used to mimic airplanes and run fast in open fields in the hope that I could fly. It has never happened, but I am still optimistic. I know there is a part of me that wants to fly.