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NYU Stern Alum and Vice President of JPMorgan Chase,talks to us about her experience Studying Abroad

Sanjana Basrur

Undergrad- St. Xavier's College - Bachelor of Arts (BA)(Hons.) Economics & Statistics.

Postgrad- NYU Stern School of Business- Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) Current Role- Vice President, Model Risk Governance and Review at JPMorgan Chase


I ended up deciding on NYU Stern, I wanted the experience of living in New York as I knew there would be no dearth of opportunity, I had heard from former students about the collegial environment and I was awarded a scholarship to attend.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Your Educational and Professional Background? Which college, company and role did you work in to get you where you are today?

I obtained my BA in Economics and Statistics from St. Xavier’s college, Mumbai. I worked at BNP Paribas in Mumbai for two years before deciding to pursue a Masters degree and joined NYU Stern’s MBA program. Today I work In JP Morgan’s Risk division in strategy and execution.

2. What was your undergraduate Major? What prompted you towards it?

I majored in Economics & Statistics, with a minor in Mathematics from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai. To me, economics is fundamentally the study of how governments, businesses and households interact and influence the economy. I was interested in learning about what drives their decisions.

Because of my analytical abilities and affinity for numbers, and because of the mathematical nature of economics, statistics was a natural choice. I became interested in finance during my undergraduate college years and joined a bank after graduation.

3. When and why did you decide to study abroad?

I had always intended to get a Masters after obtaining a few years of work experience. I applied abroad and to Indian colleges as well, however, I did want to have the experience of living abroad sometime and when the opportunity presented itself I couldn’t let it pass.

4. Did you receive a scholarship? Do you recommend any good organisations/institutions that provide scholarships or financial aid?

I received a scholarship from the university itself, so if that is an important factor I recommend researching which programs are known for offering students scholarships. Mahindra and Tata are examples of Indian companies that offer some good scholarships for studying abroad.

5. Is it worth taking a loan to study abroad? How does one measure one’s ROI?

There’s a number of factors at play here, such as the career you choose to pursue, the country’s immigration policy and economic conditions at the time. Doing your research is very important. For me, it was a no-brainer since I got a scholarship. I did my MBA at one of the more expensive schools, and at the time you only had a year window after graduation to win the H-1B lottery, for anyone not on a scholarship it seemed like quite a risk.

That’s changed since my time, nowadays more MBA programs offer an extension of two years on OPT, like other STEM Master’s programs do. Companies are also generally willing to keep on good employees by transferring them to other countries. I view the ROI as positive, provided one is mindful of the career he/she pursues.

6. Why did you choose that particular course in this particular university/college for your studies abroad? What was the process you went through while choosing the university/college?

My decisions were based on school rankings for the MBA programs, research on which programs were good for certain specializations and conversations with students from universities abroad. I had a list of 6 colleges that were a mix of schools I could realistically get admission to, and some which I aspired to get even if I knew the competition would be tough.

I ended up deciding on NYU Stern, I wanted the experience of living in New York as I knew there would be no dearth of opportunity, I had heard from former students about the collegial environment and I was awarded a scholarship to attend.

7. Any particular advice you would like to give for the application process from SOP Writing to Academic GPA to other things which you thought were important that helped you get into that course at that university?

The first thing I believe is to find a university that you believe is a good fit for you. Getting into university is the first step, but remember this isn’t just a place you will be living for the next 1-2 years of your life, it's somewhere you will make lifelong connections and a launching pad for your career. So choose wisely.

For your essays and SOPs, it’s all about the story. Build a story that flows well and highlights the best aspects of your profile. It’s very important to research the university and find out what is important to them, and then show them through your essays and conversations that you’ve put in the work. Academic GPA is of course very important, but if you feel your GPA is competitive enough, you can still highlight other aspects of your profile, such a leadership skills

8. Were you satisfied with your choice of university? What is your most and least favourite thing about the university experience?

I was very satisfied with my choice of university. I was very eager to learn and loved attending classes, feeling like I needed to soak up every minute of the experience. I also had very positive experiences with my classmates, who were always very supportive of one another. I don’t really have any negative things about the university experience, I did struggle a bit when it came to placements due to visa-related issues, but I would recommend doing research in order to be prepared for this.

9. How was the Indian fraternity over there? How was the overall campus diversity?

The Indian fraternity on the east coast is very good, by my estimates almost 10 per cent of my class was Indian. Many universities see the value of diverse student bodies and attempt to recruit people from all walks of life, so along with ethnic diversity, there were also students with very different experiences that I was fortunate enough to meet. New York City is also a very diverse city.

10. Tell us something about the faculty and resources which were there on campus.

The faculty was amazing, Stern has many well-known professors such as Aswath Damodaran and Scott Galloway, and even a few Nobel Prize winners. There are plenty more good professors, all of whom are very accessible. There are also quite a few experiential learning programs, many professional clubs that are a big help while recruiting and affinity clubs as well where you get to explore places and meet people who have the same interests as you.

11. Tell us about your journey from the first semester to the last both academically and non-academically? What was campus life like? What were extracurricular activities on campus?

Academically, I had the freedom to pursue the courses I wanted. Some were challenging, and some were completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, which made things interesting. We had grade non-disclosure policies, which allowed me the ability to take courses that I really wanted to take despite knowing they were tough, without worrying too much about how they would affect my grades. There were many extracurriculars on campus, so much so that your time management skills are really honed throughout the program.


We hope that you have found this interview insightful. Do let us know how in the comments section below!

If you wish to book an appointment with Nirali to plan your study abroad journey, do leave us an email or fill this form and we shall book an appointment for you!

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