Q&A with Spurthi Dodda, Graduate Student Commencement Speaker for the Class of 2022

Spurthi Dodda, Graduate Student Commencement Speaker for the Class of 2022

Indian by birth and raised in Dubai, Spurthi Dodda was new to the United States when she started her MBA at LeBow in 2020. Getting involved with Drexel’s Graduate Student Association (GSA) was key to her getting accustomed to life in the U.S., and she served as the organization’s vice president in 2021.

“This position taught me responsibility and advocacy for the student body, helped me make new connections and friends and pushed me to explore Philadelphia’s ‘brotherly love,’” she says.

Through GSA, Dodda put together a team of MBA students that entered the SAP University Challenge, a nationwide case competition to solve a business problem from corporate client Mars using SAP’s proprietary software.

“It was a great experience learning and collaborating with my classmates, and we were one of 51 teams to make the competition’s final round,” she says.

Within LeBow, she worked as a teaching assistant in both the Decision Sciences and Marketing department as well as a graduate assistant in the Management department. Since completing her MBA with a concentration in marketing in March, she has worked in a project manager role based in Virginia.

Drexel LeBow: Tell us about important lessons you took away from an academic course.

Spurthi Dodda: I truly enjoyed diving deep into Digital Marketing (MKTG 627) with Lawrence Duke, where we had an opportunity to write our own blog and work on a simulation to manage an online ad campaign of approximately $50,000. Professor Duke was extremely helpful and bought in some experts to help us understand the marketing world. On the other hand, from a theoretical perspective, Buyer Behavior (MKTG 622), taught by Chen Wang, brought together concepts from marketing, psychology, sociology, anthropology and economics to help me and my fellow marketing students understand and interpret consumer needs and behavior, and Michael Howley was also of great help during this learning process. Finally, Murugan Anandarajan’s course, Aligning Information Systems and Business Strategy (MIS 612), was both challenging and interesting to me, because it introduced me to both coding and analytics and helped me develop the analytical skills that are much needed in today’s business world.

DL: Who are some of the individuals from LeBow’s faculty and staff who have helped and supported you during your time here, and what impact did they have on you?

SD: I have always had a fear of math and statistics, but Srinivasan Swaminathan reassured me and taught all of his students with great patience and easy-to-remember concepts. His class, Marketing Information Management and Research (MKTG 652), ended up being one of my favorites. Also, the advising and career services teams in Graduate Student Services were so supportive and provided a variety of resources: Stephanie Johnson was a great mentor to me throughout my MBA studies, Rachel Pepper was always prompt in her support and guidance, and the professional development course that I took with Kelly Deily really benefited me a lot. Kelly’s upbeat and fun spirit, as well as her demand for punctuality, made it one of the most effective classes in setting a professional foundation for my studies.

DL: Looking back on your time at LeBow, how would you say you have grown or changed since you first arrived?

SD: Before completing my MBA, I found it challenging to voice my opinions and thoughts clearly and apply critical thinking skills. Drexel’s MBA program has helped me mold myself professionally and make me ready for the corporate world. I am confident enough to put myself out there during discussions and think critically about a given situation. My problem-solving skills are now enhanced. The career team mentorship has made me appreciate the power of networking, and most importantly, I created strong friendship bonds that will last a lifetime.

DL: How did your time at LeBow prepare you for your current job role?

SD: I promised myself during my MBA to never waste time and to take as many opportunities as possible. This meant juggling between university assignments, exams, planning events as the vice president of GSA, being a teaching assistant for undergraduate students and participating in various competitions. My multitasking and time management skills improved as a result of getting involved as much as possible. My communication and presentation abilities were also much improved. I confidently faced my interviews and was able to provide my Drexel MBA experiences as evidence of my abilities. Now as a project manager, I can work effectively and efficiently with my tasks.

DL: What are you planning to share in your message to your fellow graduates?

SD: I am thrilled to address my friends and colleagues on this prestigious and memorable day. The best way to summarize my speech is with a quote by Zaid K. Abdelnou: “Life is like a camera: Focus on what’s important. Capture the good times. And if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”

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