Atulya Kumari. Sastra University, B-Tech Mechanical Engineering, 2010 University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2017 Hometown: Patna / India Pre-MBA Work Experience: Assistant Manager, National Thermal Power Corporation You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. - Steve Jobs I grew up in a small town in India which always experienced power shortage. Pledging to solve this problem, I went ahead to pursue mechanical engineering. Despite being the only girl in a batch of 180 students, my confidence did not falter. I acquired the confidence to voice my opinion and learned to find my place in a hostile environment. Starting my career in the largest power company in India, National Thermal Power Corporation, I broke another glass ceiling by choosing to work in a male dominated mechanical maintenance area. I applied my learnings to gain the support of my team members who were initially reluctant to work along with me. I started my journey as an engineer, and keeping the goal of sustainable development in mind, I took a project to reduce the wastage of demineralized water. My strong technical skills and leadership skills helped me gain the support of my team and working together we could identify 40 points of small and large leakage points in the complex network of valves and piping. By working towards fixing all those little leaks and recycling the water going in the drains, I could increase the overall efficiency of the water cycle by 5 percent. These small initiatives made me aware of my leadership potential, and I kept exploring the opportunity to become a leader in my domain. I realized to become a world-class leader I needed some additional business skills to grow my career at the pace I desired. Leveraging the exposure to operations at a large scale, lean inventory management, and leading large teams, I want to pursue a career in strategy and operations. As a first year MBA student at the University of Illinois, I have the opportunity to interact with highly motivated students from across the world exposing me to a global thought process. The MBA has also taught me how to network and build a connection with people working in various industries and has opened my mind to challenges and opportunities. I am also managing a project as a part of student-run consulting organization, Innovation Immersion Program, where students from across the globe are working towards solving real life problems. The opportunities are endless, especially if you have a passion for continuous learning and deep appreciation for problem-solving. Explore your passion and go out in the world and be successful.