Friday, September 22, 2017

International Student and Scholar Services is happy to announce the recipients of the 2017 International Parents of the Year award, Meenu and Suresh Mittal of India.  The Mittals were nominated by their son, Sanjay, who previously received his Master of Business Administration with distinction in 2015 and is now a graduate student in the Master of Accountancy program in the Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa.

Photo of the Mittal family
Photo of the Mittal family

It is easy to see how a talent in business runs in the family.  The Mittals, who reside in the city of Zirakpur in the state of Punjab in northern India, both have extensive business backgrounds.  Meenu Mittal obtained a bachelor’s degree in education with a focus on English and later an MBA with a concentration in informational technology.  She was a teacher of computer and businesses courses for many years and received a Best Teacher award to recognize her skills and dedication.  In her free time now she enjoying cooking, traveling, and soap operas and considers a favorite travel memory to be her 2015 trip to Iowa City.  She also invests her time in mentoring other women in the community and tutoring local children.

Suresh Mittal began his business career as a factory engineer but steadily worked hard to rise through the ranks to become General Manager of Operations.  Although Mr. Mittal had a diploma in engineering, he lacked a bachelor’s degree.  While a bachelor’s degree in India may have opened the door to more opportunities faster, Mr. Mittal’s educational options were limited because of financial constraints.  He made the choice to save his money for his children’s futures.  Nevertheless, he rose to become General Manager of Operations for Bhushan Steel, one of the largest steel companies in India.  Mr. Mittal now spends his time serving as the head of building maintenance in a residential community in Zirakpur, ensuring residents’ needs are cared for.  He also loves to keep up with world news, business news, and investing.

Despite having a bachelor’s degree, Mrs. Mittal still faced her own barriers, fighting through societal pressures to return to school for a graduate degree at the age of 30.  Finding that her skills relating to her bachelor’s degree were not highly sought, she saved money and over the course of three years invested a significant amount of time to learn about information technology and business.

Sanjay says, “She acted as a role model in terms of balancing her personal and professional life.  I remember her just sleeping 5-6 hours a day.  She would start her day early at 5 a.m., get my sister, father, and I ready for school and work.  Then, she would ensure the house is well organized and go to her professional life till 4 p.m.  She would come back, take care of us, help us with homework, and spend time making dinner.  I think she lived a very rigorous life which I did not realize while growing up.”

“In fact, I did not realize till I pursued my first job how hard life can be.  I can only imagine the sacrifices that my parents made to get me an excellent education in US.  I am the first one in my extended family to step outside my home country.  I do not remember my parents ever spending a single dime on themselves to buy something.  Everything was done for my sister and me.  When I look back, I realize that my parents delayed their decision to buy a house because they wanted to save for my foreign education.  I would not have been able to be here in Iowa if my parents had not contributed towards my graduate education.”

“There are several qualities that have become an internal part of me.  My striving to persevere and never give up in the face of challenge is something that both my parents modeled through their actions.  My mother taught me to be a compassionate individual and I believe it helped me not only become successful when I was a teacher but also helped me forge strong relationships in the business world.  However, most importantly, I have learnt how to be disciplined in my life, which is crucial to avoiding distractions when the only way to success is hard work and perseverance.  My parents have been a role model for overcoming challenges in the face of toughest situations, and I think their story can inspire people to persevere and never give up even when odds are stacked against you.”

It becomes very clear where a top student like Sanjay received not only his business acumen but also his drive, discipline, and perseverance.  We are happy that the Mittal family enabled Sanjay to join the University of Iowa, and we are very pleased to recognize them as International Parents of the Year.