QS Scholarship Winner: Seeing and Seizing Opportunity

Interview with QS Community Scholarship winner, Sivaranjani Kumar

A famous, and loosely quoted saying often attributed to Seneca is that 'Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.' Sivaranjani Kumar, one of 2016’s QS Community Scholarship winners and a full-time MBA student at HEC Montréal is living proof of this maxim; young, pragmatic, driven and navigating opportunity and challenges with eyes wide open.

QS Community Scholarship winner, Sivaranjani KumarOriginally based in India, Kumar, like many of her counterparts saw that the information technology (IT) sector would be a largely failsafe field in which to work - India is the world's largest sourcing destination for this sector with market growth in IT and ITES (information technology enabled service) predicted to grow exponentially over the next 10 years. A bilingual speaker of Tamil and Hindi, Kumar had worked on her English language skills to get a position at Cognizant Technology Solutions, a company originally founded in Chennai which has expanded to 30 offices globally. Research and preparedness are key themes that surfaced in my questions to Kumar and it was her finely tuned awareness of market demands and of her own goals that enabled her to build and tailor what she calls, “a strong profile.” With four years of working as a programmer analyst and associate, learning and assimilating the wizardry of technology, Kumar saw that she had accumulated the crucial number of years’ work experience to aim for her next goal, an MBA program at a reputed, international university.  She states, “It was neither too early for me to get into a business school (without some real life work experience), nor was I too far into the (work) comfort zone."

'Timing' is a word that resonates in Kumar's interview - she is strategic with her planning. To make her international MBA goal a reality, this QS Community Scholarship winner did her research. She read up on business schools online, she investigated the various ways in which she could get funding and she met with schools at events such as the QS World MBA Tour. Her chats with admissions directors allowed her to see what she could expect from schools, but also enabled her to further design and 'shape' the strong profile she knew top business schools would expect from her. Kumar's hard graft paid off and she won admission to the MBA program at HEC Montréal. She then applied for the QS Community Scholarship and won this too.

MBA program offers “best simulation” of business realities

Now brushing up on her fourth language (French) and living over 8,000 miles from home, Kumar is fully immersed in her new Canadian life. The MBA program is no walk in the park, with the volume of work high and the pace of assignments more akin to that of a sprint. In view of her next career aspiration – to scale the ranks and work in management and consulting – she describes her MBA experience as, "the best simulation of a real-world consulting environment." On completing her MBA program, Kumar plans to use her neat accrual of skills internationally, integrating frequent travel with her love of working with people.

Community scholarship win stemmed from desire to highlight that career options aren’t limited

Kumar's QS Community Scholarship win was a result earned by the clearly articulated account of her work with young high school students in Chennai, India. Kumar had recognized that she had been fortunate enough to have had clear guidance and support growing up, and that not everyone enjoys the same luck. In India, Kumar says, "most people only know of two career options, one is being a doctor, and the other, being an engineer. The general opinion is that these are the only successful fields. This idea has to be broken."

With the goal of contravening this broadly held cliché, Kumar began to research a range of work opportunities, training programs and funding options available to young students upon graduating high school. Jobs she found included the multifarious channels into healthcare, teaching and banking. In collaboration with the corporate responsibility team at Cognizant Technology Solutions, she set about devising a four-step career preparation program. She introduced this four-week program at a local government high school with positive results. “At that time, I was fresh from college and I was very excited about my new job. I wanted these kids to experience the same feelings I had," she says. Kumar worked with 25 underprivileged teenagers, tailoring her coaching to the ambitions of each one. “By the end of the four weeks, most of the kids knew what to do after high school,” she says, before adding that, for her, this project represented one small step towards an objective she holds close to heart - a more diversely educated Indian society.

Kumar plans to continue doing community work throughout her career, believing that giving time, even if it's as little as four hours a month, is significantly more valuable than simply donating money to good causes. The QS Scholarship committee, meanwhile, was impressed by Kumar's mature insight, by her vision to promote opportunity for others, and by the fact that she, a role model, practices what she preaches - pragmatically seeing, and seizing opportunities for herself.

Karen Turtle
Written by Karen Turtle

A content writer with a background in higher education, Karen holds an MA in modern languages from the University of St Andrews. Her interests include languages and literature, current affairs and film. ​

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