2023 Best & Brightest Business Major: Navin Thakurdial, University of Minnesota (Carlson)

Navin Thakurdial

University of Minnesota, Carlson School of Management

“I am a curious and talkative leader who will always have more questions than answers.”

Fun fact about yourself: I was born about a 10-minute walk away from our business school!

Hometown: Minnetrista, Minnesota

High School: Mound Westonka High School

Major: Human Resources & Industrial Relations

Minor: Business Analytics

Favorite Business Course: My favorite course was IDSC 4210: Interactive Data Visualization with Jeff Clement. Jeff laid an excellent framework for understanding how to tell a story with data and how important effective visualizations are. He was incredibly passionate about the subject, and every assignment taught me something new.

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During College: I’ve played the trumpet in the University of Minnesota’s Jazz II Band, volunteered as a Welcome Week leader and Carlson Crew leader, have been a SHRM member for three years, and recently started roles as Student Ambassador for the Master of Human Resources & Industrial Relations program and President of the Graduate Society of Human Resources.

Where have you interned during your college career? My first internship was during my sophomore year at the Minnesota Daily as a human resources intern. After my junior year, I worked at Amazon Web Services as a recruiter intern.

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be joining PepsiCo as a graduate human resources intern in Baltimore, Maryland.

What is the biggest lesson you gained from studying business? Business is about more than generating the highest revenues and making a profit. It’s about creating a work environment where people can thrive and providing products and services that make the world a better place. For a business to be successful, it needs strong leadership and a culture based on learning.

What advice would you give to a student looking to major in a business-related field? Try a little bit of everything. Business is a big world, and it can be hard to find what you enjoy. Go to student clubs to learn about a major or career that interests you. You’ll learn if it’s something you like, and you might even get a free meal! You’ll be surprised by how much you learn outside of the classroom.

Also, you will never escape math and numbers, regardless of your major. Embrace it and take some analytics courses!

What has surprised you most about majoring in business? I was surprised at how data-driven business is. Every course I’ve taken had some sort of statistics, which wasn’t really something I expected as an HR major. Picking up a Business Analytics minor deepened my understanding of data and how to use it effectively in an organization.

Looking back over your experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently in business school and why? As a disclaimer, I’m incredibly grateful for my experience at the Carlson School and would not change anything. However, if I had to do one thing differently, it would be to get involved sooner. I was not involved in any extracurriculars during my first year of college because I wanted to take some time to get used to the big change of attending a large university. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but joining a club or getting an on-campus job would have been a good way to meet more people and learn more about my interests.

Which academic, extracurricular or personal achievement are you most proud of? I am most proud of my work as a Peer Career Coach (PCC). From helping a student build their first resume to learning that I inspired someone to apply and accept an internship at a highly competitive company, working as a PCC has been incredibly fulfilling. I remember hosting a practice interview with a student who needed more confidence in her interviewing ability. By the end of the practice interview, she was nailing every question and felt comfortable with the general structure of a behavioral interview. The next day, she sent me an email saying that the interview went exceedingly well and that she got an offer two hours afterward! Working as a PCC and having a real impact on the careers of other undergraduate students is what I am most proud of.

Which classmate do you most admire? I most admire my friend, Andy Kroll. Andy is a senior at the Carlson School, double majoring in Human Resources & Industrial Relations and Management Information Systems. He was the person who got me to apply to my first internship and is the reason why I considered HRIR as a major. I admire Andy because, although he is almost always busy, he makes time for the people he cares about. I can always count on him for advice, and I appreciate him for pushing me past my comfort zone. Andy is a driven, natural-born leader, and I look forward to seeing all the great things that the future holds for him.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? Aside from my parents, I would like to thank my academic advisor, Lindsay Gundecha, for my success. Lindsay has been instrumental to my success at the Carlson School and has always guided me in the right direction. I remember signing up for courses the summer before my freshman year and having no idea what I was supposed to be doing. Lindsay was incredibly patient and helped me select the courses I needed to get my start at the University of Minnesota. Since then, she has helped me plan every semester of my undergrad career, helped me decide on a minor, and walked me through the grad school application process. As a first-generation student, I’m incredibly grateful for all the help Lindsay has given me because I don’t have someone at home to walk me through all of these challenging college-related situations.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? First, I am determined to take on an organizational leadership role in which I can drive positive change for my organization. Only time will tell whether that be as VP of an HR division or something bigger like CHRO.

The second thing on my bucket list would be to act as a mentor or coach for a colleague. I’ve learned so much about the importance of coaching and would love to provide someone with the mentorship necessary to become a stronger employee and better person overall.

What are your hobbies? My brother got me a left-hand acoustic guitar for my birthday, which has been a great way to pass time without staring at my phone. I’ve been learning to play simple songs and have enjoyed learning to finger-pick by playing Dust in the Wind by Kansas. Aside from that, I always enjoy trying new restaurants and breweries with my friends, and I’ve developed an interest in making cocktails.

What made Navin such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2023?

“At the Carlson School, we’re driven by the idea of “Business as a Force for Good,” and Navin has given so much good back to this community. In his role as a Peer Career Coach, he has applied what he’s learned in his Human Resources coursework to help hundreds of students navigate aspects of the job and internship search process. Navin has never turned down the opportunity to share what he’s learned to help another student succeed.”

Rebecca Dordel
Associate Director of Career Development 


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.