Hailing from an academically inclined family, Rashna Jehani’s (SP Jain EMBA Class of 2021) emphasis was always on learning with a purpose – the purpose being the ability to question the wrong and to enhance learning by sharing the knowledge garnered.
It is no surprise then that today, Rashna is a second-generation theosophist, a lawyer, and a business school graduate who studied at Trinity School of Speech and Drama (London), Columbia University (New York), and SP Jain School of Global Management (Mumbai Campus), respectively.
Hear from Rashna as she shares her story and talks about her journey with SP Jain’s Executive MBA program.
Why did you choose a career in law? What attracted you to the field?
Rashna: It was in the practice of law that I found how I could positively work towards implementing the 3 noble ideals of Zoroastrianism “Humata Hukata Huvarashta – Good Thoughts Good Words Good Deeds” – a faith I was born into. Law is a tool that can be used to overcome problems across diverse areas of life. The striking aspect of corporate practice is the variedness of the work. The mandates have ranged from advising lenders on debt transactions, advising multinationals on private equity transactions, assisting a privately held company in raising capital by listing securities on recognised Indian stock exchanges, representing a global manufacturer in an arbitration claim, and successfully representing a company in proceedings instituted by the Economic Offences Wing. These experiences have taught me that regardless of the nature of the mandate, the basis of the research, which would translate into the drafting and ultimately finalising of the draft, would be driven by a balance that has to be attained between the implications of the inclusions therein that would be required commercially and the extent to which they would be permitted statutorily.
With a Masters in Law from Columbia University, you already had highly sought-after educational qualifications. What made you decide to pursue an MBA?
Rashna: When I was awarded the chance to study at the SP Jain School of Global Management, I took it up as an incredible opportunity and seized it wholeheartedly without reservation. I believed that pursuing an Executive MBA was a natural extension of my interest in learning. As a lawyer driven by issues and wanting to bring about constructive changes, an analogy can be drawn with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in which although the penultimate need of aesthetics would be fulfilled by a driving corporate legal job coupled with its perks; the self-actualisation would be possible only upon the cognitive needs being accomplished vis-à-vis the individual’s intelligence being substantially increased with in-depth knowledge of matters one is passionate about.
I also felt that an EMBA would bolster my academic portfolio and contribute effectively to making my corporate experience meaningful. Additionally, in the wake of globalisation and a new India looking towards eradicating poverty by increasing its foreign capital and investments, I realized that a corporate lawyer would not only need to be thoroughly knowledgeable with the laws but also have to the ability to deal and address corporate issues.
How did you discover SP Jain’s EMBA, and why did you decide that this was the ideal program for you?
Rashna: The EMBA program at SP Jain is one of the most selective and sought out MBA programs one could be admitted to. It was ideal since it gave me the unique opportunity of creating a course structure that included course electives that focused on core marketing, finance, and operations – a combination that not many B-schools offer. This way, I gained value from each subject and it helped me to garner knowledge across the specialties that could be applied across all practice areas.
Do you have any fond memories from your time on campus?
Rashna: The SP Jain experience has been indeed memorable and the learnings were beyond the four walls of the classroom. The diversity of the cohort added to the learnings since we had students from varied backgrounds.
Participating in the Global Immersion Project made me realise that with structured thinking and team effort, we could shape the way corporate challenges get addressed.
What were the faculty and peer like for you at SP Jain?
Rashna: The faculty was amazing and added a personal touch to how they taught the subject. They were extremely approachable and were always willing to extend their support and guidance. Coming from a non-traditional background, I had the apprehension of being able to cope with finance subjects. However, with the support and encouragement from the faculty and the rest of the cohort, the task seemed less intimidating.
The curriculum provided me with an opportunity to understand the management and business-related concepts that, in turn, supplemented my capacity to add value to my clients beyond mere legal advisory. Courses like business analytics, portfolio management, and strategic innovation intrigued me. Studying these and others like negotiation and conflict management, project finance and financial statement analysis introduced me to the intricacies of the concepts therein and prepared me to face real deals and add value by applying the learnings.
What type of professional and personal skills does it take to succeed at your type of work? How did your time at SP Jain help you build these skills?
Rashna: Commitment, integrated teamwork, and a strong will to win are critical traits to be an effective lawyer. SP Jain’s EMBA has its own distinct culture along with offering a rich combination of learning and practically implementing those learnings. During my EMBA study, especially during the simulations, we had opportunities to collectively evaluate parameters and come up with decisions that all (or at least most) the team members approved of. This exercise was instrumental in inculcating a spirit of teamwork. It also made us experience how a business had to be undertaken in a competitive marketplace and what approaches were the most favored to stay ahead of the curve.
Do you have any advice for future SP Jain students who wish to take up a similar line of work? What opportunities for advancement should they look out for?
Rashna: More than advice, what I want to share is that the experience of studying at SP Jain would certainly enhance their academic and professional standing. The school gives you a platform to build the ideas that motivated you into being a corporate professional.
Through the learnings and discussions of issues with SP Jain students and faculty members, you will be driven in the direction of making the mind more intellectually curious. The 18 months you spend in the program will make your analytical ability more incisive and build your passion for causes, making you a compelling force for contributing effectively to society.
Click here to read more articles from SP Jain EMBA Alumni Community!