2016 Best EMBAs: Manisha Gupta, Wharton School

Manisha Gupta Wharton

Manisha Gupta

Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania

“Teams always deliver better than individuals. The faster we understand our strengths and get comfortable with the roles we need to play — leader, contributor, adviser — the finer is the balance we can maintain and the higher the peak we can reach, be it at work, school, family, or community.”

Age: 41

Location: San Ramon, California

Family Members: Gunjan Garg (spouse), Naveli Garg (daughter, 14), Nitya Garg (daughter, 11)

Education:

  • Computer science, Institute of Management Technology, India; gold medalist
  • A Economics (Honors), Delhi University, India; 1st division

Where are you currently working? VP, products and strategy at HiQ Labs

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles:

Activities and Leadership Roles:

  • Top 3 candidate for Dean Harker Leadership Award, 2016
  • Elected co-chair, Wharton Entrepreneurship Club, 2014-2016
  • Social Committee Lead for Indian events, Wharton, 2014-2016
  • Co-Chair Wharton Class Gift, 2016
  • Directors List for fall 2015 term at Wharton WEMBA
  • Patent “Facilitating internal mobility within an organization,” U.S. 20140358809

Community:

  • CEO, Co-Founder; CharityDress.com a 501 3C approved
  • Wharton Social Impact Conference; Sponsorships, 2016

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It would be connecting the class with each other and with Wharton through various on- and off-campus activities. I deeply cherish the nomination for the Silent Hero Awards by fellow students. “Through philosophy, philanthropy, and unbounded enthusiasm Manisha enabled the most positive experience at Wharton.”

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I strengthened my ability to connect the dots between disparate information, distill the key points that matter most, and leverage technology to solve real-life problems while elevating the team to the next level. This was made possible with deep expertise in technology, diverse experience across multiple functions, geographies, and domains, and patience to connect meaningfully with people.

Who is your favorite professor? It would be Cade Massey for effectively teaching the difficult concept of leadership through influence, a must-have soft skill that is often downplayed among the hard skills. I’d also include David Wessels for teaching Advanced Finance in an intuitive manner that ignited interest and took away the fear from many of us new to finance.

Favorite MBA Courses? Influence, Venture Capital, and Entrepreneurship

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I have worked in a diverse range of work situations, countries, industries, and functional roles. At the end of the day, I am an entrepreneur. I aspire to launch a global venture that makes innovative life skill-development products, particularly for the propitious yet discombobulated younger generations. Wharton’s far-reaching global presence, high ratings, and distinctive electives made it an ideal candidate. Strong recommendations from alumni friends and a local presence in San Francisco made it the ideal program and the only one I applied for.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Too many things! At the core are the people. Wharton provided a platform to connect with a 100+ intellectually savvy team of equals. Irrespective of our professional differences, not only did we all come together to learn, help, balance, lead, and celebrate multiple aspects of life, but the rigorous coursework has also generated higher confidence and enthusiasm to scale higher summits — live compassionately and party harder!

What is the biggest lesson you gained from business school? Balance. Teams always deliver better than individuals. The faster we understand our strengths and get comfortable with the roles we need to play — leader, contributor, adviser — the finer is the balance we can maintain and the higher the peak we can reach, be it at work, school, family, or community.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? To understand and live the “Stretch Capacity” we all possess.

What was the hardest part of business school? It would be balancing competing needs between work, school, family, kids, friends, and community.

What is your best advice for juggling work, family, and education? Stay honest with everyone, especially yourself, and set expectations ahead of time.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your executive MBA program? Life has a lot to offer and it helps to draw clarity on what matters most for you. Strive to get A’s all around — and get comfortable with B’s on some.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when …” I had stretched myself to my maximum imagination, but the desire to learn more, dream big, and expect more from myself was still burning.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be …” Juggling a different set of balls …  Inventing, traveling and helping kids strengthen life skills, though less confident in strategic conversations with executive team and without a life-long support of like-minded Wharton friends.

Which executive or entrepreneur do you most admire? Bill Gates. He passionately pursued what he liked doing, became a big success, and scaled giving in partnership with his life partner.

What are your long-term professional goals? Derive and execute on the answer to this question: “Humans are the most advanced species capable of making big changes! Technology has made huge changes in the way we communicate, preserve the environment, take care of our health, and much more. Why then are we unable to unleash the max potential of our youth and kids to date? Enable an Einstein to become one and a dancer to grow with dance. Is the solution technology, societal reforms, attitude shifts or something else?”

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Gunjan my friend for 20 and husband for 17 years; Naveli and Nitya, my independent daughters who have learned to manage me; and our strong support circle of family, friends, colleagues, and neighbors who motivate me and extend a tremendous helping hand, from carpooling for kid activities, to giving us rain checks on social obligations, to taking time off from work. It takes a village!

Fun fact about yourself: I do something new every year. Past years have been teaching Vedic Math Camps, painting exhibition, skydiving, Wharton, and half-marathon, and 2016 will be a trek with gorillas in Africa.   

Favorite book: Gone with the Wind

Favorite movie: Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara (Hindi) and The Shawshank Redemption

Favorite musical performer: Kailash Kher (Sufi singer who rose from rags to riches with his talent)

Favorite television show: “Friends”

Favorite vacation spot: Mountains and beaches

Hobbies? Painting, writing, dancing, adventure sports, traveling, exploring

What made Manisha such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Manisha Gupta is a connector. It’s an extension of her professional career, now as VP of products and strategy, iQ Labs, a people analytics company, and it starts at home, where she is the mom of two daughters. At the Wharton MBA program for executives, she’s co-chair for the Class Gift Committee and creates a sense of community in the program, pulling together both her learning team and the strong cohort of women MBA students.

“Manisha says her career has been ‘a journey of chasing the “whys” of value creation and value capture.’ She founded and developed the Global Technical Product Consulting organization during four years at LinkedIn before becoming global head of products, eBay Commerce Network. Now she’s helping kids form their own connections and help others globally with Charity Dress, a nonprofit social enterprise that provides a platform for kids to organize their own drives to donate clothes for needy kids, primarily in Delhi, India.”

Peggy Bishop Lane
Vice Dean of Wharton MBA for Executives Program
Adjunct Professor of Accounting

DON’T MISS: CLASS OF 2016: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST GRADUATING EMBAS