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Finding No Time Like the Present

Leap of faith leads to career leap for Surabhi Khanna

Surabhi Khanna
Vice President, Strategy and Business Development, MEDHOST

Vanderbilt Executive MBA 2019

Getting “more leadership tools” to advance her career was only part of the reason why Surabhi Khanna pursued an MBA. She says she also wanted to set an example for her daughter (who was two when Surabhi entered the program) “that education is valuable and can be pursued alongside life’s other responsibilities.” Even more important, she wanted to gain skill sets to help her parents run their nonprofit organization in India—and, eventually, to run her own.

Though an MBA had long been in her plans—she says she almost took the leap in 2012—timing her studies to balance work opportunities and personal circumstances was an issue. Finally, she says, “things clicked in 2017. I realized that, if I don’t do it now, I will have to wait till my daughter graduates.”

But Surabhi’s husband was extremely supportive: “He deserves to get a joint degree with me,” she laughs. And the couple found ways to manage their finances and their schedules. “The first semester, I was tired and unbalanced,” Surabhi says, “but I quickly found my groove, and we began taking family vacations and spending more balanced time as a family despite school.”

The payoff, meanwhile, has been considerable. As she recalls, her biggest victory occurred in year two, when she was given additional responsibilities outside product development of a role in product strategy, where she assisted with developing a roadmap for a new product, performed market and financial analyses, and currently gearing to present a business case to her company’s leadership team. Simultaneously, Surabhi was given responsibility to work in a financial role focused on mergers and acquisition and developing KPIs for product development. “My biggest ROI,” she says, “has been the ability to change my career direction” and move toward an executive leadership role. Given the Owen transformation and learning experiences, I currently report into two C team executives at the company to apply my newly learned skills and gain practical experiences.

She offers a word of advice to prospective students: “Get ready to be wowed. Get ready to learn and make new friends and find your true self and aspirations.”

Get ready to be wowed. Get ready to learn and make new friends and find your true self and aspirations.