Trained as a chemical engineer both in India and in the United States, A. K. Parameswaran (MBA ‘89) entered the University of Iowa MBA program in 1987 with a prestigious scholarship. Currently holding an executive management position in India’s agricultural industry, Parameswaran says he has used what he learned from the Iowa MBA almost every day in his career over the past three decades. “The flexibility to major in multiple areas was a rare feature of MBA programs those days. Majoring in marketing, information systems, and operations was the prime reason I could hold positions in marketing, sales, manufacturing, R&D, and even HR,” Parameswaran reflects.
Looking back at his MBA studies at Iowa, Parameswaran is grateful for the learning technology and the student body profile offered by the program. “The Iowa MBA has always been a leader in providing cutting-edge technology both inside and outside the classroom. This feature not only benefited me as a student on campus, but also allowed me to ride the past decades’ IT explosion in my professional life, ” Parameswaran shares. “Furthermore, I was around a group of fellow MBA students who were very grounded, mature individuals that had worked in different organizations. This made a significant difference in my life and has been helping me excel in my career even nowadays. It was a pleasure working with them on case studies and gaining experience in teamwork.”
While Parameswaran was a successful student on campus, it was not all roses. “I had a very hard time in the Management of Organizations course. In order to improve my grade, I worked very hard by reading extra course-related materials, but still got a B instead of an A as I wished. However, in the process, I was able to better understand a variety of concepts on how organizations work,” Parameswaran recalls. Because of this course, Parameswaran failed to get straight As in his MBA studies. When he was leaving Iowa, he consoled himself that this course was not important in real life, however, it turned out to be the other way. “Almost every day I used the concepts that were embedded within the course materials and beyond. It helped me differentiate myself in my entire career.”
In addition to dealing with a heavy course load, Parameswaran worked at the university’s then foreign admissions office as an assistant, which is an effort that he provides to the UI even nowadays by participating in college fairs that attract students from India to Iowa City through both the UI Office of Admissions and the U.S. Consulate in India. “I have always maintained touch with my alma mater. Being able to give back to my old educational institutions is a factor that allows me to stand out when achieving professional success,” Parameswaran says proudly.
Believing in Ikigai, a Japanese philosophical concept about the source of value or the reason for living in a person’s life, Parameswaran suggests young alumni enter the early stages of their careers as running a marathon instead of a 100-meter dash. “I didn’t recognize that management consulting was my life’s calling until I had been working for 12 years, and it is my happiest zone today. In the early part of career development, the more zones young graduates experience, the more fulfilled they will feel later on,” Parameswaran shares. Additionally, he encourages young alumni to see the big picture of the economy and spot industrial trends by communicating with professionals at different stages of their career development. He thinks the next decade will be the digitalization of every aspect of all industries other than those that have been fully digitalized like banking, telecom, etc. “Weave your careers around this,” Parameswaran suggests.