Working at a tech company in the day and studying for an MBA in the evening almost overwhelmed Rikun Patel – until some timely advice from a fellow student put things into perspective for him. He told MBAGRADSCHOOLS about his Evening MBA experience at Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business.
What motivated you to apply for your MBA?
I had been working at eBay for a number of years and I started feeling as if there was more that I could offer. What is it that could get me to that next level in my career? How could I be part of the overall decision-making process in a more effective manner, rather than just executing someone else’s decisions?
One of my old bosses, a mentor of mine, was actually an alumni of Santa Clara. When I used to report to him he always used to say “Hey, this is a possibility”, “you should think about this opportunity.” So it was always in the back of my mind [to apply for the MBA at Leavey School of Business].
Describe your Evening MBA experience at the Santa Clara University Leavey School of Business.
There are two things I would highlight. One is that all of the professors are very well-known in the Silicon Valley area. Their day jobs have been in a lot of those [Silicon Valley] companies. So you’re getting real-life exposure to some of the biggest problems that these companies are trying to solve around the world.
The other one is that the Santa Clara Bronco alumni network in the Bay Area is just massive. With Santa Clara, the people who come here to study, stay here. When I’m on LinkedIn looking for jobs or connections and I click on a company, it says: “You may know 60 alumni [from Santa Clara]”. And just like that, you have an ‘in’.
What were the biggest lessons you learned in your MBA?
In one of the first classes we were talking about how we’ve become very transactional; we try to do business just for the sake of doing business. So we started going through some of the things that are wrong in business; about how people are conducting themselves, how it becomes so political and how the right people aren’t brought into the room to make the decision.
And all of this really resonated with me. Then there was really an aha moment where I was just like: “We are doing EVERYTHING wrong! I work at such a dysfunctional place!” But at the same time, I think: “I can bring change to this place.”
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
However you can be challenged, you will be challenged! I remember one example where I was sitting outside class and I waited until the very last minute to walk in, because I was so drained from work. One of the students in my class saw me outside and asked me if everything was OK. I told her how everything was so crazy at work, and she said: “Don’t worry, we’ll get through this together.”
So no matter how stressed you are or how taxing it is on you, or how challenging you find it, the people in your program will become your family. You will build a bond with them that is unbreakable and you will have a support system.
Is now a good time to do your MBA?
I always emphasise to a lot of students that it’s education. You never know when you’re going to lose a job, but your education will always be there. For those who are on the fence it’s just figuring out what it is that you want to get out of your life, and what are the steps you need to take to get there.
From forming close bonds with his classmates to the revelation of being able to apply classroom theory into a work environment the very next day, Rikun Patel’s MBA journey was one of constant self-discovery. “The most important thing is that I’ve learnt so much about myself” he recounts. “I don’t regret anything about it.”
Keen to learn more about studying an MBA degree at Santa Clara University, Leavey School of Business? Reach out to Rikun directly and ask him anything:
by Nick Harland