Ashwanth Gnanavelu studied for his MBA at Kent Business School in 2004. In the thirteen years since then he has returned to India and developed DesiCrew, a social enterprise which works towards creating IT occupations in rural India. Named as a finalist by the British Council India Alumni Awards, nominated for the Social Impact Award, we caught up with Ashwanth, thirteen years after he left Kent Business School.
1. Why did you choose to study an MBA at Kent Business School?
To be honest, it was the campus! I was also really intrigued by the course modules, the academics and the proximity to London. I did quite a bit of research on the career prospects, course alumni and the mix of international and home students mix.
2. How has your career developed since leaving Kent Business School?
I had an internship with P&G in Surrey after my MBA studies, after which I returned to India. After an attempt at the Indian Civil Services, I became a part of a Social Enterprise, DesiCrew, that works towards creating IT-based jobs in rural India. DesiCrew was incubated at the IIT-Madras and has won over 15 awards. I am also a member of the Association of British Scholars (ABS) in India.
3. How has what you learned at Kent Business school helped you in your career?
Kent Business School at the University of Kent played a major role in shaping my career. The diversity in the class was phenomenal. Coming from different countries and cultures, we were able to have multiple viewpoints on the same issue. This came out very well during our plenary sessions. We learnt to acknowledge differences when working as a team.
I understood that I had to work around the cultural differences to achieve common goals. This learning has served me well in the my career so far. From a management perspective, I was encouraged to think of business models that can solve real world problems. It was this way of thinking that pushed me towards forming DesiCrew.
Also, Kent Business School allowed me to pursue different interests. I was a part of the Student Staff Representative committee, I founded the Kent Debating Society. Also, the School was kind enough to alter my academic dates, to accommodate my Internship with Procter & Gamble. I am now a triathlete, participate in half-marathons, volunteer with environment protection groups on a regular basis. My stint at Kent encouraged me to follow my areas of passion.
I have very fond memories of my MBA classes with Professors Pamela Yeow, Fred Thompson, Richard Scase and the late Mike Murphy. And of course, great friends with whom I am still in touch.
4. When will the winner of the Social Impact Award be announced?
I got an email from The British Council India team last year, suggesting I apply. I had gone ahead and completed the application, there was an Interview earlier this year. The winner will be announced on the 24th of March at Alumni Awards event in New Delhi.