Gagan Chawla, BC MBA '02
In 2002, when Gagan Chawla completed his MBA at the Carroll School, job prospects in his field were bleak. “I graduated during the recession,” he recalls. “Most strategic consulting firms were laying people off, not hiring.”
Chawla’s job search was difficult for other reasons, too. He had entered business school directly after college, so he didn’t have much work experience. And as a native of India, he didn’t have a visa to work in the United States. “There were times when I considered going back to India, because the environment was very challenging,” Chawla says.
Then one of Chawla’s professors at the Carroll School recommended him for a full-time position at Strategic Pricing Group, a Waltham-based management consulting firm, and another professor provided a strong reference on his behalf.
“The other candidates for the job had work experience ranging from four years to 14 years,” says Chawla. “Then there was me—with no experience except my Carroll School education. But Jerry Smith and Pete Wilson went out of their way to help me, and I got the job.”
Chawla started at Strategic Pricing Group in 2002 as an analyst, a role below where a typical MBA starts, but thanks to his BC training he caught up quickly. Within a year he was a consultant, working with B2B companies to help them drive margin improvement and profitable growth through value-based marketing, pricing, and sales strategies.
In 2005, Strategic Pricing Group was acquired by Monitor Group, a multinational strategy consulting firm. Since then, he has worked with corporations and governments across North America, Europe, East and South Asia, and the Middle East, leading engagements in health system design, marketing and pricing strategy, turnaround strategy, organization design, and capability building.
“As an associate partner, I design, sell, and lead high-impact strategy engagements to help clients address their most complex business problems and opportunities,” says Chawla. “I work on different types of projects for different types of clients. Some projects might be broad, such as corporate and turnaround strategy; some could be focused, such as marketing and pricing strategy for a particular product or business; while others focus more on capability building. Every few months, I switch gears and go into a new situation with a new client.”
Chawla credits his Carroll School education with giving him the broad perspective that his job demands. “At Boston College I learned about the business world as a whole, not just one piece of it,” he says. “I had the flexibility to take classes in different areas, including strategy, marketing, finance, and pricing. Now I’m able sit down with senior executives and talk about their needs from a broader point of view.”
Ten years after graduation, Chawla continues to stay in touch with classmates, professors, and staff members at Boston College. When he got married in India, four of his classmates attended the wedding. More recently, he joined the Carroll School’s adjunct faculty and taught a class for MBAs.
“I continue to have a good relationship with BC,” Chawla says. “I want to stay in touch, because that’s the kind of place Boston College is—it makes you want to be part of the community.”