2017 Best EMBAs: Gaurang S. Daftary, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Gaurang S. Daftary

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

Age: 49

Hometown: Rochester, MN

Family Members: None

Fun fact about yourself: Eternal learner – speak 8 languages.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Seth GS Medical College and Yale University, MD

Where are you currently working? Senior Director for Medical Affairs in Reproductive Endocrinology, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Parsippany, NJ; Mayo Clinic, MN

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: I have won multiple awards in medical school, residency, and as a mentor.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of leveraging my business knowledge and experience to change careers and assume a leadership role in the pharmacological industry.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I am most proud of healing broken relationships amongst a diverse group of workers at my job at Mayo. I assembled them into a team to solve problems and elevate their potential. We were awarded the highest “Gold Quality Rank” for our work on improvement in patient care, error reduction, practice standardization, and redesign of the entire medical record to encompass patient (Consumer) needs and mirror our workflow (efficiency).

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Aks Zaheer: He comprehensively put it all together and for the first time instilled in me the confidence that I could do it, I had arrived, and I was now ready to lead!

What was your favorite MBA Course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Negotiations: I learned how to prepare for these, anticipate the opposing side’s view, and focus on winning strategies rather than entrenched positions.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? I wanted to work with the best professors in a reputed school that would attract the brightest and most driven people to the class.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? Each business school assignment was transformative and thoroughly enjoyable for me on my voyage of self-discovery. I therefore divided the week into alternate days when I would focus on work-related issues or MBA academics. For the most part, it worked well and enabled me to stay focused on both fields.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? ‘Adults cannot learn.’ They can, they do, they enjoy, and they excel!

What was your biggest regret in business school? None. I dove head-long into everything on offer – each course as well as got to know each professor and classmate and am ever the richer for it!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Sarah Fazio. She inspired me, believed in me, turned to me in need, and was always there for me when I needed her. She is eloquent, brilliant, and benevolent – a triad of perfection!

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I knew deep inside that I could lead. I needed to make sure that I did it really well.”

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be…limited in my personal growth and confused as to why there was a nagging, unmet need for fulfillment in my mind.”

What is your favorite company and what are they doing that makes them so special? The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They are out there making a difference, hoping to leave behind a better, more prosperous, and happier world for all.

If you were a dean for a day, what one thing would you change about the executive MBA experience? I would build a brand new career center and an active alumni community to support, nurture, and promote the new talent generated in each class.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? To continuously learn, grow, and improve as well as to mentor and positively touch the lives of as many people as I can.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? My parents – for having mentored me, cheered me on, believed in me, and expected only the best from me. They set high standards using the gentlest approach. I owe them all I have achieved for giving me such a robust foundational launch pad.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A person who truly cared about them and could be relied upon to be there for them no matter what.

Favorite book: Narcissus and Goldmund by Herman Hesse

Favorite movie or television show: Lord of the Rings

Favorite musical performer: Al Stewart

Favorite vacation spot: Too many

Hobbies? Learning – and therefore everything I can learn!

What made Gaurang such an invaluable addition to the class of 2017?

“One of the things that impressed me the most about Gaurang Daftary was his kindness. In all of his interactions with me as his teacher and with his classmates during discussions, he was unfailingly respectful and courteous. However, one would be mistaken to assume that his gentle nature was a weakness. Gaurang’s inclusive leadership style always captured the full attention of his classmates. On more than one occasion, I recall Guarang speaking during a class discussion in a precise, quiet tone, and having the rest of the cohort be completely silent as they listened to every word.”

Rand Park
Senior Lecturer

“My first interaction with Gaurang was an admissions interview over Skype that was riddled with technical issues on my end. He is a Yale-trained, Mayo physician who speaks seven languages and is a world-class researcher and I expected someone who was very no nonsense and serious who may not appreciate my inability to use Skype.  Instead, he laughed off the issues and mimed picking up the phone on our soundless video call. He was so personable, warm, and wanted so much to just keep learning. Throughout the entire program, he has embraced this new language of business with enthusiasm and curiosity, which I guess should be expected from a researcher.  He has been such a strong advocate of the program. In fact, I joke that he’s going to put me out of a job because he’s single-handedly recruited several new students for the next cohort. More importantly, he’s an advocate of continuous learning and growth. Many of us are lucky if we get one great career during our lifetime. He’s had one impressive one as a physician at one of the best medical organizations in the world. Now, he’s embarking on a second career outside of the practice of medicine for a global pharma company. I am amazed by his energy, intellectual curiosity, and humble demeanor.”

Robyn Wick
Director, Carlson Executive MBA Program