To hear her talk about it, Preeti Amarnath SF '08 has come to the MIT Sloan Fellows Program as a pilgrim. She is here to absorb all the knowledge and information at her disposal, so she can bring it back to Intelligroup — the New Jersey IT solutions company where she is director.
“After working for 5 years, I felt that I was doing the same things over and over again. My growth had plateaued. I needed a fresh perspective or some out-of-the box thinking that might put me and my company back on a high-growth track. That's when I thought of MIT,” Amarnath says. “The Sloan Fellows Program has exactly the right mix of innovation and business skills. Just listening to fellows teaches me a completely new way of addressing the same challenge. I want to return to Intelligroup, as a storyteller for what can be.”
Immersing herself in the MIT environment has given Amarnath plenty of stories to tell — stories about successful innovators and nontraditional strategies and of course about entrepreneurship done right. But she is perhaps most passionate about a story she never expected to tell. “The MIT Sloan Fellows Program is really a people story,” Amarnath says. “The most compelling aspect of my experience is the cohort — the individual members and the group. Everyone here has incredible credentials, and for all the cultural differences, you find it is what you have in common that rises to the top. The chemistry is amazing.”
Collaborating so intensely, Amarnath says, has inspired a powerful support system that links every member of the program. “Everybody matters. You never feel alone. We have a saying ‘No Fellow left behind,’ and we live by it. We're in this together, and if there's a classmate who is feeling out of sorts, we all go out of our way to help. That proactiveness took me by surprise — that all these people from all these diverse cultures come together to help each other. In fact, helping each other becomes central to the experience. You become a better person as a Sloan Fellow, there's just no two ways about it.”
Amarnath counsels prospective Sloan Fellows to think of this year away from traditional responsibilities as an investment in life. “You are able to give back so much more to the world as a result of the knowledge and wisdom you've gained in the program. Jobs change, companies get sold, Amarnath reflects, “but what you've absorbed as a Sloan Fellow is something you truly own, something you take with you always, wherever you go. This year is truly time invested in yourself, in making yourself a better person professionally and personally. I can think of few experiences in the world more valuable.”
Amarnath notes that spouses are an important part of the Sloan Fellows community — another surprise. “In most programs, the participants' partners are invited to a Fourth of July cookout or a cocktail party here or there, but their impact on the experience is negligible. In the Sloan Fellows Program, we know all the partners by name. In fact, I think my husband has made as many friends as I have. My classmates invite him to go out sailing on the Charles. There's no distinction that I am a fellow and he's not. We're all part of the family.”
This sense of community actually takes the pressure off the fellows, she says, because they don't have to worry about how their partners are adjusting. “The MIT Sloan Fellows Program has taken them out of their comfort zone, yes, but it has given them a new one.”