2022 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Chinmayee Prasad, London Business School

Chinmayee Prasad

London Business School

Age: 40

“A driven, ambitious, mother of two, on a path to discovering and realising her true potential.”

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Family Members: Husband – Apoorv, and two sons – Madhav (9 years) and Raghav (7 years).

Fun fact about yourself: I once spent an entire year taking up one new activity every month to explore what I enjoyed doing. It included lessons in painting using different mediums, salsa dancing, baking, mosaic art, playing the guitar, learning French & Mandarin, and rally car driving.

Undergraduate School and Degree: National Law Institute University, India (B.A., LL.B.). Harvard Law School, USA (LL.M.).

Where are you currently working? Intercontinental Hotel Group, Senior Corporate Counsel, EMEAA East.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Winner of the Silver Medal for Academic Excellence at National Law Institute University, India, and the Cambridge Commonwealth Shared Scholarship for graduate studies.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? After meeting my extraordinarily accomplished cohort comprising successful entrepreneurs, consultants and CFOs during my first week at LBS, I felt that, being a lawyer, I lacked the experience and technical skills possessed by many of my peers (which were highly relevant at business school). That apart, I had never opened an Excel sheet in the previous sixteen years of my professional life, and was suddenly expected to work on complex regression models and create decision trees using tools that I was not even vaguely familiar with. The mathematical calculations and accounting rules did not make life any easier, and I found myself increasingly overwhelmed during my first few months at LBS.

However, I kept a “growth mindset”, committed myself to the course, and seized every opportunity to learn. With time, I found my rhythm, and ended the first year near the top of the curve. The main takeaway for me, however, was not the good grades, but the satisfaction that came from knowing that I could overcome my limitations and insecurities simply by persevering. Needless to say, this would not have been possible without the encouragement and support that I received from the faculty and my classmates, who were always willing to help.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? In my previous role, I worked for an international hotel management company, as the head of their legal team for the South Asia region. In my very first week at work, I discovered that almost half a dozen lawyers had been hired for my role prior to my appointment, but none of them had succeeded in passing their probation period. I was given to understand that this was because my hiring manager had extremely exacting standards, which he was not willing to compromise on.

I was determined to exceed his expectations and to prove that I deserved the position. The first few months in the new role were particularly difficult, when I had to learn the nuances of a completely new industry, respond to the urgent needs of the business – all while delivering quality work. Over time, I won the trust of not only my manager, but the entire organisation, where all critical business decisions were taken after seeking my inputs. The ensuing stability in the legal team helped the company address several complex legal issues, and achieve significant business success over the years.

I left the company earlier this year after six-and-a-half years, the longest any lawyer had served in the role. My most cherished moment, however, is when my hiring manager, who had moved on from the company a few years earlier, remarked during one of our conversations that I was his best hire in India to date.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? When I decided to apply for an executive MBA, I was keen to attend a school in Europe, after having studied at an American university already.

LBS is consistently ranked as one of the best business schools in the world, and enjoys a stellar reputation within the corporate world. The two-year long immersive executive MBA program caught my attention because I was looking for a rigorous course that was focussed on enhancing core skills that could be employed in my professional life. The option to attend classes in Dubai during the first year was an additional factor that impacted my decision, because of Dubai’s proximity to India. This made London Business School the obvious choice for me, and was, in fact, the only business school I applied to.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? The option to “work from home” was a godsend, without which meeting work and family commitments, while managing the intensive schedule of the executive MBA program at LBS, would have been nearly impossible for me. The flexibility and freedom that came from this set-up helped me allocate my time more effectively between the three, and use my time more efficiently.

A fun story is when I combined my classes with a brief family holiday, where my husband and children accompanied me to Dubai a week before the beginning of class. We spent a few exhausting days at theme parks and desert safaris, after which I went to school, while my kids stayed back at the hotel with my husband, lounging around the pool and eating junk food.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Not applying to it earlier.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? The MBA classmate that I admire the most is Koen Meert. Koen is a structural engineer by profession, and is currently Senior Director of Development, Innovation and Sustainability at Emaar, based out of Dubai. I had the opportunity to get to know him better as a part of my study group, where we worked on several projects together. Koen was an exemplary classmate, quiet but attentive, and always willing to help. I have huge respect for his passion for sustainability and the tremendous work that he has done in this field in his current role, which has won him many accolades already. Koen also got us the most decadent chocolates from his home country, Belgium, which got him my vote.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The primary reason for me applying for an executive MBA was to skill myself for transitioning into a business role from a legal role. The goal was not just to have an impressive business school on my resume, but real learning that could prepare me for this transition. I also firmly believe that you learn as much from your peers as from the faculty, if not more, and therefore the ability to interact in person and make deeper connections with other members of the class was imperative for me. I chose the executive MBA program at LBS because it satisfied both of these attributes.   

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My ultimate long-term professional goal is to head an international hotel management company. The hospitality industry, in my opinion, has the perfect mix of business complexities, human connections, and glamour. I find that the ability to make a difference in the everyday lives of people is especially gratifying, and this industry allows you to do that on a daily basis.

What made Chinmayee such an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?

“Chinmayee is an exemplary student who always gives 110% to whatever task she is engaged in. Her willingness to grow and expand her horizons beyond the field of law is a credit to her. Despite the challenges imposed by COVID-19 in terms of travel between UAE and India, Chinmayee has remained steadfast in her commitment to engaging in person. Chinmayee doesn’t shy away from debate and the exchange of views both inside the classroom and outside, although Business School is a new venture to her historic academic experience. Her shared experiences have given new perspective to her classmates and our faculty. All throughout, Chinmayee has shown a great deal of enthusiasm in all her engagements with the school in parallel to her role as a mother of two boys, a wife, and a career woman.”

Zara Kamileen
Programme Director – Executive MBA, Dubai Campus
London Business School

DON’T MISS: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST EXECUTIVE MBAS OF 2022

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