Alumni Stories - Gunjan Kedia, Tepper School of Business MBA ‘92

Find out what the Tepper MBA has done for Gunjan Kedia's career in finance

The number of women in business school has increased steadily in recent years. Women represent 39% of all MBA applicants globally—up from 33% in 2013—according to GMAC’s 2017 Application Trends Survey Report.

While some MBA programs today boast a 50-50 gender split, back in the early 1990s women in business school were in a distinct minority.

So, when Gunjan Kedia decided to relocate from India to pursue an MBA at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business in 1992, she was blazing a trail for women in business.

Now, she’s a vice chairman at the US Bank; the fifth-largest bank in the US with 73,000 employees and over US$460 billion in assets as of December 2017. US Bank was named by Ethisphere as a 2017 World's Most Ethical Company.

Since Tepper, Gunjan’s career has experienced an unprecedented rise. Through an MBA internship, she landed a post-MBA job as a senior associate at PwC. She went on to work for McKinsey & Company for eight years. She broke glass ceilings at BNY Mellon, then financial services firm State Street in Boston, before landing another leadership role at US Bank.

A leading woman in finance, Gunjan says her journey up the corporate ladder started with her decision to relocate to the US for her MBA—she encourages other women to do the same. Today, 27% of full-time MBA students at Tepper are women.

BusinessBecause caught up with Gunjan to find out more.

 

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA at Tepper?

Find out why Gunjan Kedia owes a lot of her career success to the Tepper MBAI had an engineering degree from India and wanted to more broadly expand the scope of my professional opportunities globally. A business degree from a top school in the US was attractive to me.

I believed, and still do, that a background in business management with strong analytical and problem solving foundations is powerful. In the early 90s, very few women pursued that combination. Tepper was one of the few top-20 schools that offered that experience.

 

How did the job at PwC come about?

It was tough to get an internship in the US that first year. Often, I was turned down for what felt like intangible reasons. As I continued interviewing during the first couple of months out of school, I realized that I wanted, and needed, to work on my interview and social skills.


That is where the school’s career center helped me the most. They provided great counsel on how to engage socially, how to dress, how to answer questions, and how to follow up. It made a big difference when I was interviewing for the PwC internship. The full-time offer came at the end of the internship.

 

What advice do you have for international MBA students looking to start new careers in the US?

The international students who come to top tier schools are very talented. They bring great work ethic, ability to function in a new environment, mobility, global awareness, and often strong technical skills. They should draw confidence from these strengths.

At the same time, I would advise them to be purposeful about connecting with the people and the society they are choosing to work in and live in—participate in the social aspects of the country, develop networks outside of your community, invest in being a good communicator, be aware of the impact of habits and appearances that may be unfamiliar to your workplace, and yet, with all of that awareness, absolutely continue to be your authentic self.  

 

What is the future for women in finance?

I love this industry and encourage women to consider careers in finance.

We made great strides in attracting women to finance in the 1990s, but our progress has stalled in recent years. I am very optimistic about the future of women in finance but acknowledge that we need to address a few issues head on—more flexibility, fostering an inclusive and collaborative environment, pay equity, and targeted recruiting and cultivation.

We also have to change the narrative around our industry to highlight the enormous impact financial institutions have on individual lives, small businesses, employment, infrastructure, retirement security, and so much more. That creates a healthy pipeline that will deliver future CEOs.

 

Would you be where you are today without your MBA experience? 

I can say with real conviction that I owe a lot of my career success to the Tepper MBA. The academic curriculum is rigorous and it gave me the core foundations you need in business—finance, accounting, marketing, leadership, communications, and much more.


The access to great roles in great companies was a real benefit. The friendships you create in school, and the coaching and mentorship from the faculty and staff, stay with you for a long time. Most importantly for me, the school gave me the mindset that I could lead, and lead well on a global stage.

Marco De Novellis
Written by Marco De Novellis

Marco De Novellis is a business journalist and editor of BusinessBecause. BusinessBecause is a trusted source of business school news, with punchy daily editorial about the lives of MBAs and the career paths they choose, as well as practical resources for b-school applicants.

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