IACCGH Young Minds Panel

Photo: Bijay Dixit

Photo: Bijay Dixit

By Manu Shah

HOUSTON: Two investors and one engineering professional offered some serious career advice to a roomful of students and young professionals at the NexGen by IACCGH Young Minds Panel. The event, held on April 18 at the University of Houston’s Cullen building, was organized and moderated by IACCGH’s Board member and Chair of the NexGen initiative – Narayan Bhargava. Assisting him were NexGen Committee members Neha Srivastava, Anish Nagar, Girija Patel, Priya Bedi and Dilbag Singh who facilitated and encouraged networking among the attendees over snacks and refreshments.

Welcoming the gathering, Narayan Bhargava offered a crisp overview of the Chamber’s efforts in promoting economic growth in the Greater Houston region. He also outlined NexGen’s initiative in increasing involvement and connectivity among undergrads, graduate students and young professionals through networking events, mentorship programs and career discussion panels. Saheb Sabharwal, Krishna Danda and Bruce Schroeder were the three young panelists who dwelt on the detours, bumps and successes in their professional journeys and they had plenty of sage wisdom to share. Saheb Sabharwal, 28, traded his architectural drawings for a career in finance when he realized he enjoyed the business of identifying the right investment opportunities. Having earned an MBA from Stanford, he catapulted to Vice President at CLS Capital Management in a short time. His advice: assess what you want to do, have a mission and “don’t ever handicap yourself.” Meaningful networking, he added, is important as is finding those “one or two things you’re passionate about” and involving yourself in them. Don’t like your job? Find the courage to call it quits and try something new!

Stand out from the crowded marketplace, was Krishna Danda’s advice. An engineer and Chicago-Booth MBA graduate, Danda, who is in his mid-30’s, jumped companies to find his fit – an experience he describes as “a humbling one” before landing at GE Ventures. He also emphasized the importance of specializing in one or two industries and applying for jobs in those sectors rather than a “spray and pray” approach. Highlighting the importance of talking to as many people as possible, he noted that it’s equally important to “stay in touch” with the people you meet.

Bruce Schroeder, in his mid-20’s and a mechanical engineer at consulting company Sparx Engineering, also made a strong case for “not limiting yourself to one avenue but continue to learn and try different things.” He further added that it’s important to learn from your mistakes, “do a postmortem” and be honest rather than try to cover up things. He also emphasized the importance of internships and extracurricular activities with prospective employers and downplayed the weight of a perfect GPA score. In response to what they looked for in a startup or an entrepreneur, Sabharwal and Danda believed that deep expertise, eloquence, background and understanding the market were some key factors in backing people or ideas. The event capped off with a discussion on the importance of mentors for which Saheb Sabharwal had one piece of advice, “find your mentors early and they will push you in the right direction.” This was the second Young Minds Panel (YMP) hosted by the Chamber. The next YMP will be in the fall of 2017 but NexGen by IACCGH will be hosting several networking events, workshops and activities throughout the year.

(For more information about how to join the Chamber’s NexGen events, please contact info@iaccgh.com)