The Whitman Newhouse dual degree that helped engineer an unlikely career

Ipsi’s journey from electrical engineering to marketing analytics is as unlikely a career path as you’re likely to find. So, how did she get here? She told MBAGRADSCHOOLS all about her Whitman Newhouse dual degree and her colorful career to date.

In short

From engineering to marketing: How Ipsi stumbled upon her passion

It’s an unlikely career path as you’re likely to find.

Although Ipsi Panigrahi’s background lies in engineering, she currently works as the Global Marketing Analytics Manager at the conglomerate Mondelez International. So, how do you go from electrical engineering to marketing analytics? Her story begins after graduation.

“I’ve touched upon various different careers; from technology through to journalism,” she tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS. “Although I graduated as an electronics engineer and then tried to break into software engineering, I soon stumbled upon a passion for writing and for people.” (00:28)

“After various internships with newspapers and media houses, I realized that I loved people and storytelling,” she continues. “That’s how I got into journalism after my undergrad in engineering.” (00:51)

A short stint as a journalist at the Deccan Chronicle soon followed, before Ipsi’s career took another unexpected change of direction. While attending an education fair as a journalist, she bumped into representatives from Syracuse University’s Whitman School of Management.

Why study an MBA?

At the fair, Ipsi heard more about the Newhouse / Whitman Dual Program. It is a master’s program that combines electives from Syracuse University’s schools of business (Whitman) and communication (Newhouse). For Ipsi, it was the perfect opportunity to bring together her communications expertise with her burgeoning interest in business.

“I felt the need for a change in general and I wanted to pursue a master’s at some point in the future,” she explains. “I liked the look of the Whitman syllabus and the way the whole course was structured. It was a dual degree with the Newhouse School of [Public Communications] which really fitted in with what I wanted to do. It gave me the perfect balance between the media school and Whitman.” (01:31)

That combination of business and communications skills is an attractive proposition for employers. It’s something that Ipsi feels she couldn’t miss out on.

She elaborates, “It also gave me that balance between the business side of media such as branding and marketing, as well as helping me connect with other students at the media school. So when I saw the opportunity, I definitely wanted to jump at it, I just felt like that was the right time.” (02:14)

Managing a 75-credit program

As Ipsi’s journey progresses, we can slowly start to see how all the pieces fall into place. The joint program at Whitman and Newhouse meant she could learn about concepts such as marketing, analytics, and data, and how to combine them with her existing knowledge. They would help to define the direction of her career.

“I started with the basics of marketing, then went into brand management in the next year, which was one of my favorite courses. Then I took up marketing communications. What really helped with that were the courses in business analytics and data skills. So I think when I came into the corporate world, all those skills combined were really helpful,” she says. (05:04)

However, Ipsi learned more than just practical business skills during her time in the program. As a dual program, she was effectively studying two degrees at the same time. However, she believes this heavy workload actually stood her in good stead for her future career in the corporate world.

“Maintaining and managing 75 credits was quite an effort in itself,” she explains. “But when you try to do that, what it does is prepare you for that kind of corporate pressure later on in life. That kind of hard work that comes from managing several different projects.” (06:54)

Unlocking your potential: Ipsi’s advice to prospective MBA students

Ipsi says that for anyone else considering an MBA, it’s important to focus on the potential for personal development over quantifiable factors such as ranking and salary increase. That way, you’ll truly be able to grow as an individual.

“It’s important to have a growth mindset that you’re there to learn and to progress. You will really benefit from everything that the school has to offer, especially when it comes to building relationships and those long-lasting ties. That’s what really gets you ahead,” she states. (14:30)

Ipsi knows full well how quickly your career ambitions can shift and change depending on your circumstances. That’s why she says it’s best not to focus too much on the tangible benefits, and just go along for the ride instead. Focus on personal growth, and the rest of the pieces will surely fall into place.

“Believe in yourself as well as the school,” she advises. “Just go on the journey and try not to overthink it. I guess a lot of people do have a lot of questions about how to get a placement here and how to work in New York or Boston, but you can’t predict a lot of these things. It’s not in your hands, so just come along for the ride.” (15:08)

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