2021 Best & Brightest EMBAs: Modit Ohri, Northwestern University (Kellogg)

Modit Ohri

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management

Age: 33

“An accomplished manufacturing innovator with full lifecycle strategic planning and cross-functional responsibility.”

Hometown: Grew up in the gorgeous Himalayan foothills. Now based in Louisville, the idyllic city in the lush Bluegrass State Kentucky.

Family Members: Sanjhi (wife)

Fun fact about yourself: I am a minimalist and embrace the idea of consciously living with less to create a clean physical and mental space. Trying to bring my personal belongings down to 150 items. Also, I order spice level 5 (or the highest level they have!).

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University – Executive MBA (2021)
  • Institute of Chartered Accountants of India – Chartered Accountant
  • Hans Raj College, University of Delhi – Bachelor of Commerce (Honors)

Where are you currently working? Founder and CEO at Globppack, a manufacturer of flexible plastic packaging materials.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles:I have been collaborating with my friend and classmate Mack Meas to ideate and launch a unique startup in the geosocial landscape that helps people address the “I want to do something, anything!” sentiment that one encounters after finding nothing to watch on Netflix.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I’m proud that I could meet Kellogg’s academic rigor and effectively contribute to individual and group learning processes. I’m also pleased that I scored HP (best grade on Kellogg grading scale) in all the classes that I have taken despite the personal and professional challenges that were augmented by the pandemic.

As part of an elective, I helped a local nonprofit on a pro-bono basis with strategies to improve their operational efficiency by using diversity and organizational restructuring as levers. We stayed in touch and a few months later I helped them with another pro-bono project to identify the ideal proportion of their net assets that they should maintain as a buffer for contingencies. I provided them a robust model that was built using their cost structure and the best industry practices, which were benchmarked through a rigorous analysis of the financial statements of top 50 US nonprofits.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I recognized that I could strategically identify an opportunity, take a risk, and successfully implement my vision. In 2013, I started my company, Globppack, from a greenfield project near the Mumbai port. The products we make are recyclable and biodegradable plastics used for retail and commercial use. Despite many challenges along the way, I was able to create unique customized machinery through a multi-cultural work triangle with Indian, German, and Taiwanese partners. The efficiencies from this novel machinery fueled multiple rounds of expansion and helped develop a global distribution of my product.

I had the confidence to start a company because of my experience working for E&Y. It was at E&Y where I became aware of opportunities in India’s manufacturing sector that were driven by US tariffs on other Asian countries. This sparked an idea that drew upon my environmental interests and previous manufacturing experience.

I saw this entrepreneurial path as a way to significantly expand my skill set to include strategy, finance, marketing and sales, production, and talent management. The process of starting a company required a special kind of drive that opens doors where none are seen. It is gratifying to set up a company that gives jobs to many people and creates a sustainable product.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program?I started with short-listing 5-6 top executive MBA programs that could help me build world-class know-how, perspective, and networks to make the most of my business. After that process, my decision to choose Kellogg was based on a cultural and value fit.

I strongly related to Kellogg’s ‘Deliver High Impact with Low Ego’ and ‘Promote community success’ values. I could see those ideals reflected in all my interactions with the Kellogg community – current students, alumni, and the admissions team. It was inspiring to see these values in action during the pandemic. When a few of our classmates lost their jobs, the entire cohort and the career management team sprang into action to help them settle into new opportunities.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Professor Craig Garthwaite’s Strategy course was an eye opener for me, particularly his ‘Assets-Activities-Advantage’ model which explained the concept of sustainable competitive advantage. I was able to apply this model to my business to reassess and modify the product portfolio in a way that the whole was greater than the sum of the parts.

On a macro level, the holistic approach of Kellogg’s curriculum and course design has significantly improved the quality of my decision making. The individual courses are not taught in silos, but in a harmony that helps develop a comprehensive view. For instance, we talk about marketing implications in a finance class, economics in a marketing class, and strategy in a managerial accounting class. I have found a lot of value in being able to hold space for multiple disciplines while analyzing a particular issue.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? My wife and I were living in Louisville and we had timed my EMBA to ensure smooth sailing. But as life would have it, she was diagnosed with a serious illness that required critical medical treatment in Houston, Texas for months. With my business in Mumbai, classes at Evanston, and her treatment at Houston, I found myself working on assignments and pre-readings at airports, on 20-hour flights, and in hospital waiting rooms. With positivity and the support of friends and family, we were able to sail through the rough waters. I am filled with gratitude that my wife is doing great, and I was able to persevere through these challenging times.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? Be deliberate.  There are many changes and hurdles to go through in order for you to be sitting in the class. Carefully review all aspects of the process including admissions, tuition, flight/ travel, down time from work, and family. Consider investing in a good MBA primer course like HBS Online’s CORe. Once you are in, take proactive steps to make the most of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. You will want to strategically restructure work commitments and spend extra time with family.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? One myth I encountered was that an Executive MBA program is for candidates who want to continue growing in their current career track. In reality, an executive MBA allows both vertical and lateral career movements. At Kellogg, we have dedicated career management resources to help with three different career pathways – Amplify, Shift and Launch. I am ever so thankful to my coach, Dee Kane, for her excellent guidance and helping me find a career path that aligns my strength, values and needs.

What was your biggest regret in business school? I regret that we could not be at campus for many months due to the pandemic.  However, Kellogg quickly pivoted to a high-quality virtual experience to keep us all safe and they offered us new value sources to make up for the necessary change in format. We were offered more than 60 Executive Education courses free of charge, additional 6 months of career coaching, and a brand-new networking platform that is built on the principle of mentor-mentee relationship.

I am now elated that we are now having in-person classes again. The together time that our cohort spends has now become extra special.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Quinton Krueger (lovingly called Q). In addition to his full-time work, executive MBA and family commitments, he co-founded an AI predictive analytics company.  He is also our class ambassador and holds a demanding job that became exponentially more complex during the pandemic. Even with so much happening in his life, he is always so helpful and approachable.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The Executive MBA offers an opportunity to study alongside senior executives and business owners with an average work experience of 14 years. This translates into a very rich classroom discussion as case studies and academic concepts are deeply analyzed by people who are experts in their fields. For instance, in a recent case study about launching a consumer product, one of our classmates, Ajay – a senior executive at Walmart – weighed in on the practicality of many tactical alternatives. I chose executive MBA for this depth of experience and richness of perspectives.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? Having started my career with consulting at E&Y and then moving on to create and grow my own business, I now want to pivot to management consulting. I am looking forward to working in a variety of industries, solving unique problems, and making a bigger impact on the business world. In addition to the impact, such a move will allow me to create superior value for clients through my learnings at Kellogg and my practical experience in setup and managing a global business in an emerging market.

What made Modit such an invaluable addition to the class of 2021?

“Modit is incredibly bright but that doesn’t nearly capture his contributions to class. He is enormously curious. He started asking questions well before class started and continued long after a class ended. It isn’t just that Modit has an infinite supply of questions; it is the kind of questions and the purpose of his questions. His questions are driven by his desire to dig deeply into an issue and figure out what the implications of an idea would be in another environment or industry.

Modit is also an excellent citizen and team member. He helped me realize when and how I needed to explain an idea in another way or realize that what I thought was clear, was not. He was a partner in the class’s education. Modit is also relentless. This is why his questions and the class discussion would often spill outside of class. Many of the issues he raised, I would find myself thinking about days after class. When teaching is well done, it becomes a collaborate effort between students and faculty. Modit made this possible.”

Mitchell Petersen
Glen Vasel Professor of Finance
Director of the Heizer Center for Private Equity and Venture Capital


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