DeGroote School of Business valedictorian Chirag Sheth graduates June 14 with an Master in Business Administration. We asked him a few questions to get to know him. Here’s what Sheth had to say.
Why did you choose McMaster?
The DeGroote School of Business and McMaster University has that strong reputation, great professors, return on investment and diverse extra-curriculars that anyone would be looking for from an MBA program. For me, culture and community were a big factor in my decision-making process. I had heard that MBA programs can be pretty cutthroat at times, and that just wasn’t really my style. I remember when I got selected for an interview to the DeGroote MBA program, a member of the recruitment team, Matt Vonk, reached out to me asking if I wanted to set up a coaching session to help me prepare for the interview. That offer was something I had never experienced before. Someone from the organization reaching out to help me be successful in their interview process. I thought that if I’m getting offered this type of support right off the bat, then this speaks volumes about the culture and supportive community that DeGroote has. That made the decision pretty easy for me!
What’s next for you?
After a little bit of travelling, I’ll be starting with CIBC in August as part of their Technology Leadership Advancement Program.
Can you share a great piece of advice you’ve been given?
One that sticks with me is from a book by Drew Dudley called This is Day One: A Practical Guide to Leadership. He speaks about how in certain situations, all you need is a few seconds of courage. As a bit of an introvert, I can struggle with putting myself out there, however I’ve found that that those initial few seconds of saying yes to something, putting your hand up or making that first step to go talk to someone up is often the hardest part.
Once you get over that, the fear starts to fade away and you find your rhythm. Take those few seconds of courage and something great can come from it!
Now that you’re graduating, what’s your advice for students?
Treat your MBA or post-secondary education as your playground! I mean that in two different ways. First, it’s an opportunity to try new things and be adventurous. School is a lower risk environment where you have the opportunity to try something brand new, whether that be a course, a club, a case competition, or anything else you’re interested in. If you love it, that’s great and you’ve found a new passion. If not, that’s also fine and you can move on to the next thing. This is an opportunity to take risks and explore!
Second, make sure to have fun along the way! School is too long to have your head in a textbook the whole time, so make sure to enjoy the process and make connections with the people around you! Those are the moments you will remember the most after you’re done.
Tell us about a good memory from your time at McMaster.
I’m fortunate that I’m leaving McMaster with many great memories and great friends that I’ve made over the past two years. One moment that stands out is getting the opportunity to participate in the John Molson MBA International Case Competition, the biggest case competition across the globe. I was able to do this through Dr. Milena Head’s D700 class with my team members Brandon Kober, Stephanie Keen and Sejal Pandya (otherwise known as the SKPP Consulting Group).
This was honestly a once in a lifetime opportunity. We had a full week of daily 3-hour case competitions and presentations to senior company executives. It was a challenging and intense week, but it pushed me outside of my comfort zone and was a very memorable experience.
What’s an accomplishment you’re really proud of?
One thing I’m very proud of is my podcast, Building Digital Community. It started off in August 2020 as a random idea to help our incoming cohort develop relationships with one another while many of us (including myself) were struggling with remote learning and not being able to meet our peers in person. Fast forward to today, and we’ve published 60 episodes, each with a different student or alumni from the DeGroote MBA program. I think that the challenges that people are going through can often be a spark for innovation, and I’m very happy that the podcast got such a great response from the DeGroote community.
Tell us about a prof or mentor figure who made a difference for you in your time at Mac.
Honestly there are too many people to highlight here, so I may have to break the rules a little bit and mention a few more! I’ve been lucky to have some great mentors and professors over my time at McMaster.
From the mentors and previous managers I’ve had even before thinking of coming to McMaster who ultimately helped me get started on this MBA path — including people like Travis Ames, Michelle Liem, Palma Petrilli and Alexandra Lasinski — to others like Matt Vonk on the Recruitment and Admissions team at DeGroote that was a huge influence on my decision to come to McMaster which helped kick off this incredible experience.
Finally professors like Dr. Manish Verma, Dr. Milena Head, Dr. Haniyeh Yousofpour, Paul Tedesco and Dr. Candice Chow that I’ve learned so much from over the past two years. And these are all just to name a few! Nobody makes it alone in their journey and I’m incredible grateful for the professors and mentors that have helped me throughout my MBA experience.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be?
This may be the toughest question so far! I think I would have to go with teleportation. Prior to starting the MBA, I was commuting at least two hours a day, so would love to just teleport back and forth to work. Would also make travelling so much easier and more fun!
What’s an important lesson you’ve learned so far?
Be patient with yourself and take time for reflection. Growth and improvement won’t happen overnight, it’s a long game. Focus on doing small things to get better every single day and eventually they start to add up.
While at Mac, did you receive donor-funded financial assistance (e.g., a scholarship, award, bursary)? Any thoughts on the importance of giving back to your alma mater to support future generations?
I was fortunate to receive The Class of 1988 Greg Brophy Memorial Scholarship in Principled Leadership. I’ve gained a lot through my MBA experience at McMaster, so I hope to one day give back and help support and facilitate that for other future students.