Innovation and the Daily Grind

Innovation and the Daily Grind

Innovation and the Daily Grind

How admission into MIT Sloan Fellow MBA transformed my way of thinking about careers, entrepreneurship and innovation

January 17, 2022 | Vikram Vikas S.

A life with daily grinds

Over the last ten years, I remember working long hours on mergers and acquisitions (M&A), project finance deals, and operational issues without even realizing when the sun set. And then COVID struck! Suddenly, I had nothing to work on and nowhere to go. Somewhere inside me, I knew that I needed to rethink the rest of working life. A second MBA to learn new skills for a post- COVID world seemed like an obvious answer for my business-focused mind. I wrote some essays, used my GMAT score and applied to Sloan Fellow MBA program.  Bing! Bang! Boom! I was admitted into MIT. 

No idea what to do now     

I joined MIT with a corporate strategy mindset, and I was used to thinking about how to grow a business and how to improve operations. I had no clear plan about what I wanted to accomplish at MIT before I arrived; my only thought was to fulfill some gaps in my business knowledge that would make me a better strategic business person with a strong understanding of the M&A cycle and operational cost control. My many years of corporate roles had molded me to think that this was the purpose of a MBA. 

Rekindling new interests     

I started my MIT journey as Sloan Fellow MBA ‘21 and soon realized that MIT is not just a place to learn the fundamentals, but more of a place to experiment and innovate. The professors and the guest speakers encouraged us to explore and not just stick to the original vision that we had planned for our MBA time. I realized the phenomenal work done by MIT researchers and I was exposed to a never-ending list of innovations including artificial intelligence and machine learning, CRISPR, synthetic biology, and nuclear batteries. While speaking to a guest lecturer at MIT, I asked him how to innovate as a non-computer engineer, as it appeared to me as if all innovations revolve around digital technology. The speaker challenged my thought process and stated, “Since you are at MIT, I promise you that if you spend a month in any specific topic you are interested in and then come back to me, you would not have this thought.” These inspiring words hit my inner strings. 

Getting hands on

During a leave of absence from MIT, I joined an ongoing digital transformation initiative at Kalpataru Power Transmission Limited, my previous corporate organization, instead of restricting myself to corporate development initiatives. I started reading about artificial intelligence, Arduino programming, and experimenting with Python coding and machine learning applications. I was able to lead a team focused on creating analytical dashboards and anomaly detection systems.

Explorations continue

To my utmost surprise, I now understand the intricacies of integrating physical to digital, and can execute basic Python programs for machine learning. MIT ignited my innovative neurons. For me, MIT was a life-changing experience with endless possibilities. MIT can help you forge a career direction that you possibly never imagined.

After learning the basics, I am not stopping here. I am focusing on building my innovation skills not just in finance, but also in products and markets emerging at intersection of energy and artificial technologies. This would only be possible at MIT! I want to explore grandiose questions like “Are factories powered by nuclear batteries possible?” and “How can we solve the power transmission problem of America with solutions powered by machine learning?”

These are the questions that I hope to answer during my next few months at MIT.  And this is just the beginning! From the start of the fall term on September 7th 2021, there are still 9 months of explorations.

I am hopeful that I am sowing the seeds of a new trajectory in my career. I don’t know what the trajectory will look like, but I know that I will use the skills and enthusiasm that MIT fostered in artificial intelligence and machine learning to lead me there!

A photo of me with a Disciplined Entrepreneurship Poster

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