2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Priyanka Khetarpal, University of Michigan (Ross)

Priyanka Khetarpal

University of Michigan, Ross School of Business

People make me smile, I can binge The Office like it is my lifestyle.”

Fun fact about yourself: I have an incredibly large sweet tooth at any time of day.

Hometown: Saginaw, Michigan

High School: Heritage High School

Major: Bachelor of Business Administration & Bachelor of Science in Information

Minor: N/A

Favorite Business Course: Cross-Cultural Business (a virtual classroom exchange with students from Libya, Lebanon, and Egypt)

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

  • Career Development Office Finance Peer Coach
  • BBA Ambassador
  • Peer Recruiter for Outreach
  • Phi Chi Theta Business and Economics fraternity- Vice President of Operations in 2019
  • Michigan Business Women

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • 2018: Quicken Loans, Detroit, Mortgage Operations intern
  • 2019: Symphony, New York, Client Engagement intern
  • 2020: J.P. Morgan, New York (Virtual due to COVID), Corporate Client Banking & Specialized Industries Summer Analyst

Where will you be working after graduation? BlackRock – BlackRock Solutions Analyst (ALADDIN team)

What company do you admire most? Patagonia is a company that I admire the most because of their purpose-driven operations and mission. They have managed to create a brand that is inseparable from environmental advocacy. They recently modified their mission statement to read “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.” This clearly defines their values as improving the world around them and being transparent in doing so. I find that immensely admirable and can be utilized as a case study for positive change in the world backed by a sustainable and successful business strategy.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? The biggest lesson I have gained from studying business is a general appreciation for the role that business plays in the world and the catalyst that it can be for positive impact.

Studying business from an academic perspective has really shown me what it takes for the world to go around in 24-hours and how many different puzzle pieces connect, giving me a greater appreciation for simple things. For example, something as simple as buying a pen involves all aspects of business. It involves business law in the creation of patents and trademarks, supply chain/distribution operations, and marketing (what made me reach for that pen). The list can go on-and-on.

The secondary result of this lesson is the realization that business can have immense power for generating positive change and impact in the world. Many of these lessons were learned through supplemental programs at the business school such as the Och Initiative for Women in Finance and realizing there are many diversity gaps that require active attention. Impact can also come from the consumer and understanding the power behind where you choose to allocate your money and understanding the power behind your dollar to a business and building an awareness for what those businesses may or may not stand for.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? I would advise a student to go into their academic endeavor with an open mind and willingness to explore topics in business or be a part of conversations that may not be within a “traditional” realm. Seek out innovative spaces within business and have a thirst for knowledge and a curiosity to find a better way for business to extend a positive impact on the world. Just because something is the way it has always been done does not mean in the right way and once you start to challenge the world around you, you may gain a greater appreciation for the subjects you are being taught at business school.

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I have never been a person who seeks out competitive environments and typically does my part to actively avoid them. So, naturally, when I was applying to business schools, I was nervous that the culture would mirror that of my interpretation of the business world. I was so pleasantly surprised when I came to know the culture at Ross, where the focus on positive business and tangibly teaching the idea that the value of a whole (or team) is undoubtedly higher than the sum of its individual parts. The focus on collaboration as opposed to competition was an aspect that surprised me the most about business school.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? One thing that I wish I had done differently in business school is engage in research opportunities with faculty. Ross faculty have amazing academic backgrounds and are often conducting research studies of their own.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my extracurricular activities that put me in a position to pay it forward or offer mentorship to those around me (professionally or academically). I am proud to be on a team of BBA Ambassadors that focus on diversity outreach and support within the undergraduate program at Ross. I think there is a personal responsibility that students at Ross and Michigan at large take to hold doors open for those that follow to make sure that those younger than us learn from our struggles or mistakes – whether that is in classes or job interviews. I am most proud of being a part of groups who internalize that idea in how they function.

Which classmate do you most admire? A classmate whom I greatly admire is my peer and personal friend, Taylor Hurley. She recently launched a health-focused consumer packaged goods company alongside another classmate (Jacqueline Sun). She had always been passionate about the wellness space and was running a health-focused blog/Instagram and the two really took a gap within the space head on and utilized their business degrees to create a company. I think that level of direct application to a degree in Business Administration is extremely admirable.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? This is a hard question because I know, with absolute certainty, I owe gratitude to many people for many reasons that have helped develop me in some way.

However, I think if I had to pick one person, I would like to thank my mom. She has always served as an inspiration for what it means to be a strong yet compassionate person and has an incredible ability to be present and make every person feel as though they are the most important thing.

She has a heart of service, a spirit of perseverance, and is an example of a leader. She has always been there for me and believed in me in moments when I did not have an ability to do it for myself, and for that I could not be more grateful

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?

  • Work and live in another country (even if it is for a short-term project)
  • Earn a graduate degree

What are your hobbies?

  • Playing tennis
  • Knitting/crocheting
  • Painting
  • Baking

What made Priyanka such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021?

“My first memory of Priyanka and her years at Michigan Ross was as an applicant from a lesser known part of the state, who had one of the most incredible admissions portfolios I’d seen in my eight years of reading Ross BBA applications. She was mature beyond her age, and had an incredible intellectual curiosity, as exhibited by a post in her personal blog titled “The Aesthetics of Calculus” (which was her Ross artifact). I can still remember the faces of our faculty review committee members when they read her portfolio, and their subsequent desire to have her in their classroom immediately.

That thirst for knowledge from a young high school student has transitioned into a respected leader on campus – who is graduating with two Michigan degrees in just four years; which is a feat in itself. Priyanka has combined her love of finance, data, and technology in her BBA from Ross and information science degree from the U-M School of Information.

Priyanka recognized that during her sophomore year, when she was figuring out how to translate her love of numbers and technology into a career, she found herself to be one of only a few women in the room during networking events with financial firms. Being a woman in a less represented area of business has motivated her to serve as a mentor to others. As she once said to me “Being a woman. Even coming to Ann Arbor from a less represented area of the state. If I can make the experience better and open doors for others, then I take personal pride in that.” We certainly take pride in all that Priyanka has accomplished at Ross and look forward to her trailblazing a path for women in FinTech.”

Blaire Moody Rideout, PhD
Director of Undergraduate Admissions
Ross School of Business



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