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South Asian professionals empowered by diverse perspectives in Ivey’s EMBA

Aug 29, 2023

L-r: Nida Dhanani, Harsh Jain, Rathika Narmathan, Usman Muhammad

L-r: Nida Dhanani, Harsh Jain, Rathika Narmathan, Usman Muhammad.

When you’re an immigrant working and living in North America, you may think you need to quickly gain a North American perspective to adapt. It’s easy to unknowingly diminish the power of your own unique perspective coming from a different area of the world.

For a recent webinar on the Ivey Executive MBA (EMBA) experience, four executives of South Asian background gave advice for South Asian professionals considering the EMBA, including the importance of sharing your perspective with others and leveraging it as a strength.

“There is this urge to learn everything about this side of the world and there is a tendancy at times to forget that you have so much perspective to share from where you’re coming from,” said Nida Dhanani, a current Ivey EMBA participant who was born and raised in Pakistan but now lives and works in Canada. “It’s not just one side having to learn about the other side no matter where in the world you are.”

Dhanani, who is Director of Quality for Collins Aerospace, was a panellist at the event called South Asian Perspectives: An EMBA Alumni Panel, which is part of an ongoing series of virtual information sessions. Other panellists included Rathika Narmathan, EMBA ’23, Principal Consultant, Capco; Harsh Jain, EMBA ’19, Project Director-Customer Experience, Ontario Power Generation; and Usman Muhammad, an EMBA ’23 candidate and Director of Consulting and Delivery with CGI.

The panellists discussed why they were interested in the program, how they juggled it with other priorities, and tips for making the most of the experience.

Diversity in the class enhances the EMBA education

Dhanani said the Ivey EMBA has a welcoming environment for participants from South Asia – or anywhere in the world – to share their perspectives, and doing so only enhances the learning for all.

“In this globalized world and in a country like Canada that is so proudly diverse, it’s very critical that we show up and we share our perspective and we share that side of the experience,” she said. “Know that it’s vital for you to share your experience so that we all can collectively learn from each other.”

Harsh Jain, who lived in Canada during the program while the rest of his family was in India, his home country, even invited his EMBA class to celebrate Diwali with him. He cited the value of the long-standing relationships forged through the program.

“There are moments in life where you are going to look back and say, ‘What was the moment that changed the future for you or created relationships for you that became longstanding?’ and the EMBA program will be one of them for you,” he said.

Cultivating a global business perspective

Having spent half of her life in Sri Lanka before moving to Canada in her late teens, Rathika Narmathan said she appreciated the chance to learn more about business in Canada and other parts of the world.

“I’ve gained insights into North American companies and industries through the case-based models and the small family business histories, which I wouldn’t have known otherwise,” she said. “My foundations were tailored to Sri Lanka’s needs, but the case method and the insights and perspectives I got from various people have been extremely valuable for me. It’s like the program is designed to help people like me.”

And although Usman Muhammad is originally from Pakistan, he has spent most of his life in Canada so the chance to gain a global business perspective was a factor in taking the EMBA.

“I was drawn to the case-study based approach, the incorporation of international trips that were just phenomenal, and the remarkable diversity of industries that are represented in the classroom setting – all the unique ideas that people bring to the table,” he said. “Having South Asian heritage, individuals can leverage this program to gain diverse business exposure, networking opportunities, and a global business perspective on issues that matter to leaders.”      

Watch the webinar recording above.