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Shruti Malani Krishnan is an MBA graduate of London Business School and director of Powr of You, a personal data marketplace helping people to receive payment for their data while remaining anonymous. She co-founded the start-up in 2013 with her brother Keshav Malani, who joined LBS the year after her.
Ms Malani Krishnan grew up in Kolkata, India then moved to California at the age of 14 and went on to study for a degree in economics at the University of California Berkeley. After graduating in 2005, she worked at Accenture for five years, in IT and operations practices, before joining LBS.
In her spare time, Ms Malani Krishnan enjoys learning different forms of dance and how to make jewellery and mosaic art.
1. Why did you choose to do an MBA?
After studying and working for five years in the US, I wanted to attend a top programme outside the US, in a location where I could see myself professionally in the future. So I applied to LBS and the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad and was accepted to both. I decided to attend LBS for two reasons: (1) almost 90 per cent of the class comes from outside the UK – this international diversity is still lacking in US MBAs I feel – and (2) I met a female student at an LBS information session whose experience as an engineer moving into private equity convinced me LBS would be a great match. It was inspiring that she could make that transition.
2. What is your favourite memory of business school?
I wouldn’t say favourite, but one memory that stands out is when we talked about tax and accounting practices in Turkey, in an 8:15am class and it turned into an interesting discussion. This shows what an international group of students can bring to the table.
On a personal note, I enjoyed the evening walks around Regent’s Park with my now husband. We would get into discussions about things like start-up ideas, scientific endeavours and ethics.
3. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
I would probably take more entrepreneurship courses. Starting my MBA, I knew I wanted to go into strategy consulting for three to five years then start my own business, so I focused my coursework on finance and marketing. I missed out on taking entrepreneurship courses because of this, so would love to go back and take those. I have since met the entrepreneurship faculty while working on Powr of You and found their advice extremely useful.
4. What would you do if you were dean of a business school for the day?
Encourage everyone to at least try starting a business, even if it’s just for fun. It teaches you an incredible amount about the world of business.
5. What advice would you give to female MBA graduates?
Challenge yourself. Don’t just go for the option that seems safe but ask yourself if the position you are taking on is truly going to be a learning experience or just one where you know you will be comfortable.
My advice to everyone in their 20s and 30s, in fact, is that any time you feel you are comfortable in the job/role you are doing, it is time for a change because you are too young to not be pushing yourself to be better.
6. Why did you decide to launch Powr of You?
Simply put, we saw a disconnect between consumers and brands and a way to connect them that could benefit everyone. All the data we already share online is quite valuable to companies to understand consumer behaviour and preferences so they can tailor both marketing and innovation efforts. With Powr of You, users earn rewards with our revenue share model and get a service to actively manage their online presence. On the other side, our analytics engine churns this data to help brands plug into their consumers’ lives.
We are live in beta now on the web and launching our Android app in November so we are focusing on growing the platform at the moment. Helping people unlock the value of personal data can truly transform lives for the better.
7. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
I love Shakespeare so an apt quote I always keep in mind is: “This above all. To thine own self be true”. Also, find a mentor who can be your guide, female or male.
8. What is your favourite business book?
The biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. It is a great read on how one of the greatest minds came about; how creativity wasn’t learned, in his case, but a way of life from pranks as a kid to innovations as chief executive of Apple.
9. How do you deal with pressure?
Any time I feel overwhelmed, I make a list. It seems to do the trick. Write things down and prioritise. I am in love with the Wunderlist app for that reason.
10. What are your top tips for networking?
Be genuine. Don’t try to talk to everyone that seems important and ask generic questions. Rather, figure out whom you want to talk to and why you want to talk to them. In business school especially you go to so many different events.