MBA Connect Story: Developing A Competitive Edge

Neha Kanotra (Full-time Class of 2015)
Manager, Accenture Consulting

Prior to pursuing her MBA, Neha Kanotra had a steady and secure job with Tata Consultancy Services. She worked for the company in technology consulting and project management in Mumbai and London for six years, looking after two of their biggest clients, including Bank of America and Merrill Lynch, now Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML).

The financial crisis of 2008 had crippled the world. She observed that countries in Asia such as China, India and Singapore were fast on the recovery path and there was a tectonic shift of economic activities in these countries.

When she looked around, she saw that any industries – be it banking, finance or consulting – were experiencing tremendous growth in Asia. Almost all major banks had their offices in Asia, almost all technology firms were entering Asia to set-up their base. For the past years, China was in the process of creating its own Silicon Valley with technology companies like Alibaba, Tencent, Baidu and Xiaomi and got miles ahead of other developed countries.

Keeping the macroeconomic situation and her personal goals in mind, Neha decided to pursue an MBA in 2013 and she was certain to obtain it in Asia. She applied to business schools in Shanghai and Singapore as well, but chose Hong Kong, given the city’s dynamic culture, diversity and it being a melting pot of cultures. She had two objectives: get exposure by doing her MBA outside of India and leverage her strong technology background in the consulting career.

After completing MBA, Neha worked with Arthur D Little in Dubai for six months as a Strategy Consultant and returned to Hong Kong to join a global professional services firm Accenture Consulting as a Manager. She is passionate about her work and enjoys working in a fast-paced environment.

“I think I made the right choice coming to Hong Kong,” she says. “Now, my job as a consultant is strategic, challenging and – with its business focus – more rewarding.”

With its many China-focused courses, CUHK MBA has given Neha the desired insights into how the Chinese financial market operates and the transformation is going through to get ahead in the international markets. She was particularly interested in the finance course and learning about the strategic directions of investment in technology in the head-to-head competition between China and India.

“Their pace is very fast, they have scaled up capabilities in a short time, invested in the right infrastructure and the results are visible. Both China and India are very competitive markets and are on the right trajectory to become the centre of all economic activities,” she says.

Her top two MBA experiences were participating in Outward Bound, which is a three-day ice-breaking programme that tests the new students’ skills and capabilities both physically and mentally, and leading the sales and marketing team preparing for CUHK MBA CSR Conference, which is annually organised by the students. Thinking back, Neha was most impressed by the trust built among her team members while making collective decisions.

Finance, marketing and strategy, which covered three interlinked fields with one impacting the other, helped Neha’s career development in many ways. But, while technical skills can be acquired simply by learning, picking up soft skills is more difficult, because they are acquired by experiences.

Neha finds that courses related to soft skills and learning from peers from different cultural and professional backgrounds is a definite advantage of the programme, as it provides lots of opportunities for students to work with and lead different groups of people, preparing for their careers.

“I’m doing a lot of strategy consulting and transformation projects. We as consultants operate within a short frame of time to turn things around for our clients, and bring a structured and disciplined approach as well as a fresh perspective to solving complex business problems,” she says.


This interview was first published in the MBA Connect by MBA Programs Office, CUHK Business School in its December 2017 issue. Please click here to read more.