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Malika Gandhi – Deloitte & Duke: She Has Vigor, Grit, and Ingenuity

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Malika Gandhi, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Alumna of Duke University (MBA, 2006) and Johns Hopkins University (BA, 2000: Economics)

Malika is a leader in the Financial Services Strategy Practice at Deloitte Consulting LLP. She brings 15 years of experience to advise insurance companies, banks —and their leaders—on how to grow through innovation, analytics, digital strategy, and customer experiences tied to mergers and acquisitions. Read how Malika’s energy, passion for innovation, and an entrepreneurial spirit distinguish her within this consulting powerhouse—and how her MBA helped.

What do you love the most about your job?

Every day, I’m challenged to solve complex problems and stay ahead of market trends. It’s a tremendous responsibility—you manage more early on than you might in industry. For example, I’m one of our leaders in the FinTech space, which didn’t exist just a few years ago.

We also work primarily in teams with colleagues ranging from first-year professionals to former CEOs.

In terms of favorite roles, I was responsible for co-leading the recruiting and development of 150 Deloitte young professionals as the  Business Analyst Champion for our New York office. Since our professionals are often on the road, our office community becomes an important “home base.” This enabled me to connect with colleagues to help them navigate their careers at Deloitte.

Where did you start your career?

I spent my first four years working for Citigroup’s Strategic Planning Group in its Capital Markets business. I worked for the head of strategy and planning, who reported into the CFO. It was a bird’s eye view into how a major investment bank functions. I was able to capitalize on my work ethic and learn a disciplined way of tackling problems.

What attracted you to consulting?

I thought I’d have a two-year stint in consulting and bring those skills back to banking. I’ve stayed in the industry because I’ve been able to bring together my knowledge of the financial services industry and interest in how customers think.

Consulting plays to one of my greatest strengths because it’s an industry that thrives on collaboration. It also puts you in a position to influence and lead, and to cultivate those incredible skills early in your career. For example, if a second-year analyst derived the insights for a project, we’ll ask her to present to clients. In consulting, you can advance and utilize your abilities regardless of tenure.

What inspired you to pursue your MBA?

The MBAs I observed at work had a structured and strategic approach that inspired me to pursue the degree. I also wanted to broaden my thinking and gain depth in financial analysis.

My MBA experience enabled me to grow in these ways—and many others. It helped me see business challenges from different perspectives and companies, which introduced me to the world of consulting. The people I met at Duke also became this unexplainable, huge part of my life. I joined business school with a big network. I left with friends to help build businesses.

What tips would you share with women considering an MBA?

Getting to business school is not the end goal. An MBA is the bridge to get you to where you want to be.

Think about the big problem you want to solve. Figure out what experiences you are missing that you can gain through your MBA program. Know how a specific business program will help you accelerate.

What have been some keys to your success?

I bring an entrepreneurial grit to all I do. If you don’t know how to do something, figure it out. If no one is stopping you, don’t stop yourself.

If you had to pick a career “wow moment,” what would it be?

For more than three years, I essentially ran a startup. I led one of Deloitte’s innovation labs on how insurance companies can use emerging technology and data to change their customer interactions. It’s been incredible to build a venture from scratch, then see it become commercially successful.

What have been your biggest business lessons?

Don’t try to solve a problem yourself. Involve more people than you initially think may be necessary.

And don’t fall on your sword all the time. If something happens, own it and move on.

How do you keep your personal life as full as your work life?

My last 4 years as a mom have been a day-by-day journey, trying to figure out how to make it all work.

At times, I have little predictability in my work, but I can still create a schedule—even if it changes week by week.

You also have to check yourself. Don’t go months before seeing something is broken. Be more mindful. Ask the people in your world if priorities are being met. Try to outsource things that do not align with your priorities.

 

Immediate family members in her household: Husband and one child, nearly four-years-old
Recent Forté volunteer experience: Speaker at the Forté MBA JumpStart event and Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference
Her role model: Her mother, a stay-at-home mom who thinks like a business person. She encouraged Malika to stand on her own two feet, stay focused, and never let anything stand in her way once she set her mind on a goal. Malika says this becomes part of your DNA when you hear it every day, and that pushed her into business.
Words of wisdom that inspire her: Over our lifetime, I believe we can have it all, but it may not all happen at the same time.
Song that makes her turn up the volume: “Want to Want Me,” Jason Derulo

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