2019 Best EMBAs: Jaydev Thakkar, UCLA (Anderson)

Jaydev Thakkar

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

“Entrepreneur, fun loving, curious, sincere, in pursuit of path to enlightenment.”

Age: 44


Born and brought up in India (Ahmedabad, Mumbai)

Living in US for 20+ years (currently in Thousand Oaks, California)

Family Members: My family is my strength and source of energy: A super supportive and caring wife – Shipra Thakkar, smart and sensible daughter (yes, even as a teenager!) – Kavyaa (17), fun loving and cool son – Param (13), and energetic and playful dog – Truffle (5)

Fun fact about yourself: Can’t stop watching any movie or show half-way, even the terrible ones (must see the end!).

Undergraduate School and Degree:

Master’s in Computer Application – Gujarat University, India

Bachelor of Commerce / Business – MS University, India

Where are you currently working? Amgen, Director, Digital Health and Innovation, focused on delivering innovative solutions that improve health outcomes for patients around the world, while enabling health-care ecosystem (i.e. health care professionals, hospital systems, insurance providers etc.) to optimize care and experience.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:

Love playing tennis with friends

Enjoy working with kids on math & science projects – Recent favorites: popsicle stick bridge, solar panel car, mousetrap car, scale models of Golden Gate Bridge and Washington Memorial

Coach for GATE Math league program at kids’ school

Volunteer at Tournament of Roses Parade, Pasadena- float decoration

Volunteer at Casa Pacifica & Habitat for Humanity

Top Ranker and Gold Medalist in Master’s of Computer Applications Program at Gujarat University

UCLA Net Impact Challenge to work on a consulting engagement to provide strategic and operational guidance to Jenesse, a non-profit focused on domestic violence

Speaker & Chair of Technology and Digital Innovations tracks at various conferences (e.g. Summit for Clinical Ops Executives, Disruptive innovations in pharma)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am fortunate to have built strong friendships and bonds with many of my classmates that will last far beyond the two years of business school. We have become each other’s support system, sounding boards, and future co-founders!

Academically, proud that I completed specialization (certificate) in several areas of my passion while maintaining A’s: Entrepreneurship, Finance, Technology Management and Global Management.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to lead, coach and mentor many brilliant professionals. I am very proud of seeing them reach for the stars.

Personally, it was being a serial entrepreneur at a young age, launching and running two businesses. I ran my first business as a co-founder at age 18, managing a manufacturing plant and the national sales and marketing team, directing and influencing people three times my age, gaining their trust and respect. Next, I launched a tech start-up. Now, I am cultivating entrepreneurship and innovation in the corporate world, partnering with health-tech start-ups.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? Impossible to pick one. There are so many truly excellent and committed professors at UCLA Anderson. A few names among many that I cherished: Professor M. Garmaise (Really cared that students grasped the essence of a topic in-depth); T. Kramer (Taught us to be visionaries, thought leaders and critical thinkers in managing disruptive innovations); E. Long (Very engaging, creative and fun teaching style); J. Ullmen (Inspired to be a better leader who cares for much more than just delivering results); J. Scheinrock (Provided practical advice and insights for helping convert ideas to startups); G. Freixes (Engaged students with fun and humor while teaching nitty-gritty of tax law); T. Bernardo (Taught real world insights of corporate finance); and N. DeHoratius (Inspiring passion for operational innovation and helping students learn).

Not only are they renowned experts in their field, but they also carry a strong passion to share their knowledge and help students grasp the concepts. They were creative with their teachings and impactful in giving memorable messages. They genuinely cared for students. I know I can count on them to be my advisors throughout my professional career.

What was your favorite MBA course and what was the biggest insight you gained about business from it? Again, impossible to choose one.

Business Strategy: It is not one big idea or action, but a set of interlinked well-coordinated actions to achieve a vision that provides the competitive advantage sustained over a long period of time.

Corporate Finance: Have humility with numbers and models. They don’t tell the full story.

Technology Management: Think big, context matters, and know the “So what’s”

Venture Capital & Private Equity: Read the terms to understand “true” numbers in a term sheet. VC money is expensive but can offer valuable expertise, guidance and connections for a start-up

Operations Management: Operations innovation can be a source of competitive advantage. When optimizing supply-chain, balance cost-minimization goals with responsiveness to manage variability.

Leadership & Org Behavior: See yourself through the success of others

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? UCLA Anderson’s global reputation and prestige, a rigorous academic curriculum paired with the caliber and diversity of faculty and cohort were the perfect blend for what I was looking for in a top ranking business school. The residential aspect of the program was a bonus, as it provided the opportunity to get to know my classmates and create lasting friendships.

What did you enjoy most about business school in general? The camaraderie, learning opportunities, incredible friends, professional connections, meeting C-Suite executives, social events, international travel with classmates and learning from the best has made this the most enjoyable school experience for me. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? The curriculum has helped me strengthen my knowledge in various aspects of business (strategy, finance, operations, technology management, and leadership) and positioned me to apply many of the learnings at work. As an example, I found the Emotional Intelligence framework very applicable in everything I do at work.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family, and education? My story is about persevering through work, school, and family demands. This one week during the program in Spring 2019, I was traveling to Toronto, Canada for work. In addition, I was balancing assignments for different EMBA courses due during the week, a couple critical meetings back at home office, needing to visit two college campuses 4 hours apart on the east coast with my college-bound daughter and attending classes at school in Los Angeles.

I have learned to lean on my colleagues and classmates when needed. I have been fortunate at work to have had very supportive managers and teammates who were always willing to help me with stepping in for a critical meeting or deliverable. I was also blessed with classmates and professors at UCLA, always willing to support and accommodate. In the end, I managed to complete the international work trip, turn in my assignments by 3 AM Toronto time (thankful for the time zone difference), remotely attend the class that I was going to miss (thanks to classmates and professor Habibi for making it happen), and fly directly from Toronto to Pittsburgh and meet my wife and daughter there and driving between the cities to visit both college campuses. It was a thrilling week!

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Don’t wait – go for it! It provides a lot more than key business concepts, tools, and frameworks. Hidden treasures of the EMBA program are real-world practical insights from fellow classmates and executives, along with exposure to successful C-suite executives who really shape you as an influential leader in today’s dynamic business environment.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school?

Myth: You don’t have the time for doing this.

Reality: With my wife and I working full-time, 2 teenage kids and everything else that life presents, I didn’t think I would be able to add school to the list and manage it all. Although it is difficult to juggle with competing priorities on certain days, I was able to make the time and balance everything with the right level of planning and support from family and friends.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I wish I could have taken more international immersion trips leading to exploring new cultures and cities with my classmates.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I witnessed perseverance of several of my classmates through life-changing events such as births, engagements, marriages, new jobs, moves and tragedies. I admire how they managed their emotions and balanced their commitments through these experiences.

I also appreciated and learned from people who are super organized and always on top of that next assignment or those who gained energy by networking and inspired me to connect with more. Also, the out-of-the-box thinkers enabled my creativity with problem-solving and those who were articulate helped me sharpen my communication skills.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when…I was seeking a new challenge and the opportunity to expand my horizon and felt that combining a formal business education with my 20+ years leadership experience would position me for the next level of leadership roles and entrepreneurship that I am seeking in next phase of my career.”

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Lead a startup or be a c-suite executive in a global company.

In one sentence, how would you like your peers to remember you? A friend you can count on, who is always ready to help, genuinely cares and offers a unique perspective.

What are the top two items on your bucket list?

Experience Aurora Borealis (northern lights)

-Write and publish a book

What made Jaydev such an invaluable addition to the class of 2019?

“Jaydev is an invaluable member of the UCLA Anderson 2019 cohort. Jaydev works for Amgen, having a significant impact on the company’s strategy and innovation. His performance was so impressive at Amgen that he was promoted into the executive ranks even while applying to the UCLA Anderson Executive MBA program.

Jaydev’s academic performance is where Jaydev truly shines. He graduated #1 in all the MS programs at his university and 1st in class in his BEN. In fact, both his work and academic performance were so stellar that Amgen chose Jaydev as their only 100% sponsored HiPo executive to attend an MBA program!

Jaydev has continued this passion for learning in the Executive MBA program, where he has maintained a GPA in the top 2% of his class. He has also opted to take classes beyond the required curriculum and is pursuing not one, but three additional certificates in Entrepreneurship, Finance, and Global Management. Jaydev has maximized his participation in the Executive MBA program, staying actively engaged and taking advantage of every opportunity to learn.”

Sarika Thakur, MPH, EdD

Executive Director of Admissions

Executive MBA and UCLA-NUS Executive MBA Programs

Executive MBA Admissions

UCLA Anderson School of Management


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