Alumna: Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business MBA ’10 and NYU BS, Economics ’02
Fresh out of New York University (NYU), Jessica Kapadia wowed her bosses and quickly worked her way up the ladder at an asset management company, but her next move was unexpected: she took a year off, traveled throughout Asia, and ended up working at a solar company in Nicaragua before starting her MBA at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business as a Forté Fellow. With “street smarts” that she developed growing up with immigrant parents, Jessica landed strategic roles at global firms where she consulted for clients all over the world. Since 2014, Jessica has applied her tenacity, curiosity and diverse background to her role in global strategy at Apple.
Numbers speak to me so I decided to go into asset management.
As the child of immigrant parents, the expectation is often that you will become a doctor or lawyer. After NYU, I worked as a paralegal and quickly learned I didn’t want to be a lawyer. Numbers speak to me so I decided to go into asset management at Shenkman Capital Management. Within four years, I was promoted from a Research Assistant to Strategy Analyst. I started answering questions like: What strategic framework should we build and what is the best strategic recommendation? It became so natural that I started doing it well, and I built trust with leaders of the firm.
I sold all my things and bought a one-way ticket to India.
After Shenkman, I took a year off. I sold all my things and bought one-way ticket to India. I taught English to monks in McLeod Ganj, went to a meditation camp, biked 500 miles through the Tibetan Plateau, walked 33 miles through Myanmar and traveled through Southeast Asia. A Canadian man I was biking with told me about a solar energy company in Nicaragua that was looking for someone with my background. I applied, got the job and moved to Nicaragua.
I lived in a small village in a house with dirt floors, tarantulas and no running water. We had to pump freezing water from underground wells to take baths. On my birthday, my host mother warmed my bath water for me over a wood fire without my knowing. It was the best birthday present I have ever gotten. Warm water!
After Nicaragua, I went to business school at Indiana University and then to BTS, a small, global consultancy. I spent three years traveling around the world working with companies like Nike, Pepsi, and GE, a privilege that comes from working for a smaller company.
After BTS, I was tired of traveling and took an internal strategy job at Deloitte. I was curious about the tech world so I decided to look around and was soon interviewing with Google, Apple and some start-ups. I quickly had an offer from Apple.
The ability to be a strong voice at the table comes from my MBA.
No matter what you choose to do, an MBA helps in every decision and conversation. As women, there is still inequality and the ability to be a strong voice at the table comes from my MBA. It made me more confident and increased my already diverse background – I am of Indian descent, have lived in New York, London and San Francisco, and going to Indiana University for my MBA and living in the Midwest was another opportunity to broaden my horizons.
I am willing to learn anything to get where I need to be.
I like challenging problems and am willing to learn anything to get where I need to be, whether it is putting in the hours or having difficult conversations. And I always have a smile on my face. If you are happy and you work hard, and follow your heart, you can’t go wrong. Street smarts and not letting anyone tell you no helps, too.
The confidence they put in me at a young age made me realize: “I’m doing something right.”
At Shenkman, I worked with our top executives to help them make the best decisions for clients. I was dealing with a lot of money, and the confidence they put in me at a young age made me realize, “I’m doing something right.”
I learned to not assume I always know what is going on with other people.
I put a lot of rigor into my work and I am proud of it, but it’s important to develop other people. I used to work with a woman who stayed late and assumed she was being competitive with me, but she had an abusive husband and never wanted to go home after work. I learned to be kinder and not assume I always know what is going on with someone else.
In my personal time, I take care of my body and mind.
In my personal time, I take care of my body and mind – biking, skiing, rock climbing, yoga. Having people over for a good meal and good conversation. One of my favorite things is to light a fire in my fireplace and read.
Forté inspires women to better themselves and reach for things we may feel incapable of.
I was a Forté Fellow at the Kelley School, and I facilitated an undergraduate event. I appreciate that Forté inspires women to better themselves and reach for things we may feel incapable of.
My diversified background made me a competitive candidate.
Become a more diversified and holistic person, and you will be more fulfilled. I believe I got the job at Apple because I have an MBA, am savvy with numbers, have not been afraid to try new things like traveling the world and working in Nicaragua. Who knew what all these things combined would get me? It could have just been a good story, but I believe my diversified background is why Apple hired me.
|Words that define her:||Always present|
|Who is a woman you admire, and why?||My group of 10 girlfriends has inspired me to be more confident, reach for my goals and not take “no.” We, as women, have to raise each other up – otherwise, we are not doing each other a service.|
|Favorite book:||From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman. It put me in the shoes of someone else and inspired me to learn more about the world and absorb as much as possible.|
|Words of wisdom that inspire her:||“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau|
|Song that makes her turn up the volume:||“Float On” by Modest Mouse was my theme song when I was younger.|
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