2021 Best & Brightest Business Major: Shiwani Pathak, Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)

Shiwani Pathak

Carnegie Mellon University, Tepper School of Business

First generation immigrant with an equally ferocious appetite for finance, female empowerment, coffee, and Netflix.”

Fun fact about yourself: I attended pre-school in Scotland!

Hometown: Edison, New Jersey

High School: John P. Stevens High School

Major: Business Administration (Concentrations: Finance and Accounting)

Minor: Decision Science

Favorite Business Course: Valuation and Financial Modelling

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College:

Extracurricular Activities

  • Chair of Undergraduate Student Senate (Summer 2019 – Spring 2020), Student Government Executive Committee
  • Senator for Tepper School of Business, Undergraduate Student Senate (Spring 2018 – Spring 2020), Advocacy Committee
  • University Leadership Student Advisory Council (Fall 2019 – Spring 2020)
  • University Education Council (Fall 2019)
  • Chapter Director for Strong Women Strong Girls (Spring 2019 – Fall 2019)
    • Communications Chair (Spring 2018 – Fall 2019)
    • Mentor (Fall 2017 – Fall 2020)
  • Tepper Class of 2024 Community Lead (Summer 2020)
  • Undergraduate Business Administration Student Advisory Council (Fall 2020)
  • Teaching Assistant for the following classes:
    • Business Computing (Spring 2019)
    • Finance (Fall 2020)
    • Business Leadership Endeavor III (Fall 2020)

Awards & Honors

  • 2020 Segal Scholarship for the Tepper School of Business
  • Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society
  • Dean’s List (all semesters)
  • StartUp CMU Case Competition, Third Place (Spring 2018)

Where have you interned during your college career?

  • Investment Banking Summer Analyst, Morgan Stanley: New York City, NYC
  • Finance Leadership Development Program Intern, Verizon: Basking Ridge, NJ
  • Program and Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning Intern, Strong Women Strong Girls: Pittsburgh, PA
  • Product Manager Intern, Pediatric Palliative Care Coalition: Pittsburgh, PA

Where will you be working after graduation? Investment Banking Analyst at Morgan Stanley

What company do you admire most? The company I admire most is Patagonia because they exemplify the compatibility of social responsibility and profitability. They donate 1% of their total sales to environmental causes annually – amounting to over $89 million over the years –  primarily use recycled materials for their products, and consistently prioritize their commitment to the planet over consumerism. I believe they are a role model for corporate activism, and I love both their products and their values!

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? The best advice I could offer is to be authentic and forge your own path. Sometimes, we become too preoccupied with appearances or just following a set path to success in business, but I truly believe that authenticity and passion should be your guide. Explore different opportunities and participate in whatever piques your interest. You learn from every experience, so pursue both your professional interests and personal interests; hobbies are important! Do not make decisions solely on the basis of whether they will help you land your dream job.

I joined Student Senate, which is not related to finance at all, because I found it interesting. The Senate ultimately enabled me to develop skills and practice leadership in a way that both led to professional development and brought immense personal fulfillment. Essentially, do not be afraid of being multifaceted, be proud of it!

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? The thing that surprised me most about majoring in business is how important practical learning and soft skills are. I found that I learned most from my classes that had intentionally vague assignments or case studies because they allowed me to experience life outside academia where tasks are not well-defined. Additionally, I have seen the manifest importance of strong soft skills which enable you to present your work and yourself in a composed and compelling manner. Confident, original, and insightful conversations on real-world scenarios have helped me succeed at interviews and build professional relationships during internships. I have discovered that it is not enough to simply understand concepts; having the ability to apply them in real-world situations and effectively communicate your ideas is key in the business world.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? One thing I would do differently in business school is networking and asking for help sooner. At the beginning of college, I would try to learn and explore things on my own, but talking to more alumni and upperclassmen would have broadened my perspectives. This would also establish foundations for meaningful relationships which would provide mentorship and help with professional opportunities. Towards the middle of my sophomore year, once I started to reach out to alumni, I realized that they were all very enthusiastic about helping undergrads, and I learned a lot from their insights. I would have benefited greatly if I had leveraged their support even sooner. Everyone is willing to help, you just need to reach out and ask.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of?  The achievement I am most proud of is organizing and hosting a field trip for 50 local girls to Carnegie Mellon University as Chapter Director for Strong Women Strong Girls (SWSG). SWSG is a mentoring organization where college women mentor elementary school girls in the Pittsburgh community. A lot of the girls we mentor are from underprivileged backgrounds and have parents who did not go to college, so the field trip was a completely new experience for them and helped them more concretely envision a future where college was a possibility.

I cannot express how proud and happy I felt when, after having a fun time exploring, learning, and engaging in STEM activities during the field trip, I heard girls say they really wanted to go to college. College is a path many of them had not considered before, and the field trip made it a new goal for them. The fact that my efforts could, potentially, positively impact the lives of 50 girls continues to motivate me to work to serve the community. The field trip proved to me, in a palpable, almost visible way, that we all have the ability to change lives in small but meaningful ways.

Which classmate do you most admire I admire a lot of my classmates at Tepper, but Aileen Yu is one who stands out to me. We met, incidentally, after being assigned to a group project. We worked well together – so much so that we became best friends in the process! Aileen and I have different interests in business but are both very passionate and care deeply about learning, so we are always teaching each other new things. Aileen has taught me about the efficiency of Target’s operations while I have explained how Robinhood works to her! I also admire Aileen’s work ethic as a student athlete who is very involved on campus, incredibly hard working, and always willing to go the extra mile while being a kind and supportive friend.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? I would like to thank my mom most for my success. No one in my family has attended college in America, majored in business, or worked in finance before, but my mom has always trusted me and supported all my choices. She has been my loudest cheerleader and has taught me how to handle both success and failure with a fierce and resilient grace. She constantly reminds me to be kind to myself, to be a good person, and to focus on my commitment to learning – not outcomes like grades or jobs. Her teachings have truly been my guiding force, and I genuinely owe all that I have to her.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I have lived in both Scotland and India, so I would love to work abroad in both those countries! It would be fascinating to experience those cultures from the perspective of a professional after having lived there as a child. I also aspire to be on the board of a non-profit that empowers women, so I can continue work similar to Strong Women Strong Girls and contribute to the project of uplifting women.

What are your hobbies? I love reading, cooking, binge watching TV shows, and exploring restaurants and cafes with friends.

What made Shiwani such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2021? (Please include name and title)

“I consider Shiwani Pathak a ‘shining star.’ I have known her as my student in Business Leadership class and she also worked as my Teaching Assistant for a semester. Through various interactions, I have found Shiwani an extremely talented and ambitious young woman. She always has a positive attitude and desire to learn and do better. In my class, she was very engaged and participated actively in all discussions and exercises. As a TA, she has done an extraordinary job by always taking initiative and volunteering for additional projects. Her finished product was always just perfect because she puts her heart and soul into her work. Along with her strong academics and work ethic, she has done a great job getting involved in co-curricular activities at CMU and helping strengthen our community. Some of the activities that Shiwani has been involved in at CMU include Chair for student Senate, Tepper Class of 2024 Team Lead, and Chapter Director and Communications Chair for Strong Women Strong Girls Club.”

Rubab Jafry O’Connor
Distinguished Service Professor of Management


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