Growing up, Priya Ghatnekar assumed she would practice medicine one day like her parents. After discovering that it wasn’t the right fit, Priya pivoted to business as an undergrad and later got an MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School. She went into consulting to gain broad, transferable skills, which she now applies as a principal at Alexander Group. As a founder of the Women at AGI initiative, she is a strong proponent for the firm’s commitment to grow the number of women in consulting. Current role: Well versed in business issues In simple terms, what is Alexander Group’s mission? Alexander Group is a management consulting firm that helps organizations, primarily Business to Business companies (B2Bs), drive topline revenue growth. We tend to work with the customer-facing arms of a business — for example, marketing, sales, fulfillment and support teams. What attracted you to consulting generally and Alexander Group specifically? After undergrad, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with a business degree. Everyone said hard and soft skills learned through consulting roles were transferable, which is true. I’ve learned how to manage projects, engage with teams, speak publicly and with other people, and distill complex issues. Before I joined Alexander Group, I was looking for a small organization where I could do a project and see an immediate impact. When I interviewed here, what stood out to me the most was the people and the culture of the organization You can work long hours in consulting so if you don’t enjoy the work and the people, it’s probably not a fit. What characteristics does someone need to be successful in a role like yours? Willingness to work with teams, be open to new ideas, communicate proactively, and have a thirst for knowledge. You don’t learn this stuff in school — there is no class that talks about sales consulting — so you must be open to learning at times. You don’t learn this stuff in school — there is no class that talks about sales consulting — so you must be open to learning at times. What is your favorite part of your job? It is never static or boring. Even when we sell the same engagement to two different clients, each one is unique, and I am continuously learning. What is most challenging? Balance — because I get pulled into many directions. For example, today I have client calls, internal calls and some intellectual property to develop. We need clients to have a business so serving them is a priority, but so is attracting them. Every day you must prioritize, and each day can be different. Early years: Squeamishness led her off the medical track Where did you grow up? Pittsburgh, PA Was there anyone particularly who helped to shape your personal or professional path? My parents were influential in creating values. They were born and raised in India, and it is not easy to come to a new country. They always encouraged education because no one can take that away from you. You can take my job, but my education and determination always remains. You can take my job, but my education and determination always remains. Did you ever dream about a career at a young age other than consulting? I thought about becoming a doctor. My parents are both doctors, their friends are doctors, so that is all I knew. I am squeamish though and realized that medicine was not for me. What was your very first job (where you had a W2)? What did you learn from it? I grew up playing ice hockey, and when I was in school in Washington D.C., I worked at the ice-skating rink in the National Mall as an attendant. I realized that I could make money doing something I loved. Career path: Research what you don’t know Looking back on your career, has there been a pivotal moment or decision that took your career in a new direction that you wouldn’t have otherwise had the opportunity to do if you hadn’t said “yes”? A few years ago, I was assigned to work on a project in an industry I didn’t know much about. It was a very positive experience because I got to work with leaders outside of Chicago, I established relationships, I learned so much, and we sold more work. It really helped grow my career because I realized you don’t have to know everything — you just need grit and resourcefulness. When people used terms I wasn’t familiar with, I researched them. I was eager to learn and, in the end, my curiosity worked to my advantage. How have you benefitted from getting an MBA at Kellogg? Kellogg is very diverse. Going to school with people who had different perspectives and career backgrounds, I learned new ways of approaching solutions. Is there anything you would do differently on your career journey? What do you think young professionals can learn from your path so far? I wish in my early years I had been more active in driving my career. I used to be more passive and think things would just come to me. People will help you get there, but you must be the driving force in your career. People will help you get there, but you must be the driving force in your career. Leadership lessons: Find friends and be intentional What is about Forté’s mission that makes you want to support our efforts? Forté has a mission that resonates for me: help women succeed in business. I always say, “find a friend” — keep up relationships and build a community where you can safely connect with other women to share both solutions and challenges. Your bio says you founded and now lead the Women at AGI initiative at the firm. What does that entail? When I arrived at Alexander Group, I was a minority female, and there was a glaring lack of women consultants. If you looked at our leadership page back then, you would see that it was mostly men. This won’t change overnight, but it’s getting better. Of the 220 employees at the Alexander Group, about 45 regularly attend our meetings to hear speakers and discuss books on a range of topics. I also encourage all AGIers to come — this is a firm initiative, not just a women’s initiative. We need to see that individuals at all leadership levels care and are engaged. This is a firm initiative, not just a women’s initiative. We need to see that individuals at all leadership levels care and are engaged. Are there one or two important lessons in business that you always keep top-of-mind? No one has all the answers, but you need a framework for getting there. How you position things to get buy-in is important. I sell consulting, not a widget, for people to solve business problems. We are all people, and how you communicate is important. What advice do you have a for a young woman just starting out in her business career? Be intentional with your time instead of trying to do multiple different things at once. I always joke that I only have time for three things well: family, work and friends. Personal passions: Snowboarding dreams Is there anything on your “bucket list” you’d be willing to share? I am a snowboarder, and one day I want to snowboard in the Andes and in Chamonix, France. How do you spend your time when you are not working? My husband and I have an eight-year-old daughter. We live in Chicago and enjoy all the city has to offer, and we also like to travel..