It was a dream come true when, fresh out of Shanmugha Arts, Science, Technology and Research Academy with a bachelor’s degree in information technology, Ksheera Rangarajan scored an engineering role at global tech giant Google.

But just as her career grew, so did her ambitions. Ksheera’s eyes were opened to the myriad career paths besides engineering she could take in tech.

She set her sights on a business-related role and found her way to the ESSEC Master in Strategy & Management of International Business (SMIB) program at ESSEC Asia-Pacific.

You’ve had three years of work experience. Why the SMIB instead of an MBA?

I was advised that an MBA would be more relevant for those with over five years of experience, and it made sense to take it later in life when I needed a push from middle management into a leadership role.

In contrast, the SMIB program appealed to me because of its focus on preparing students to be consultants, a possible career.

I was also drawn to the fact that there is a campus in Singapore, as I felt this would give me the best of both worlds—to study at a premier school in Europe and gain the knowledge to establish a foothold in Asia.

Were there any concerns you had about coming to ESSEC Asia-Pacific?

I wasn’t worried about being able to adapt to a new country, but I was concerned if I could get used to being a student again.

It’s an entirely different life when you need to collaborate on assignments, prepare for examinations, and network with finding a job in mind.

Thankfully, my classmates have been helpful!

How is ESSEC different from your previous schools?

One thing that stands out is that everything is more application-based, and we learn through case studies.

I also like that we have people from a mix of different majors and industries. It helps to have different perspectives during discussions.

For example, I’m working on an industry consulting project on sustainable batteries.

I have little to no experience in that area, but my classmate has done environmental sciences and has helped me understand the necessary concepts.

Tell us a little more about this industry project. How have you benefited from this?

It’s under the SMIB program’s Asian Strategy Challenge (ASC). My team is working with Newcastle University to understand the environmental impact and economic feasibility of refurbishing second-life automotive batteries.

Coming from a computer engineering-related background, I find learning the ropes of a new industry exciting.

I’ve understood the nuances of being a consultant—which is very different from being an engineer—and am glad to do this with such a robust ESSEC support system behind me.

Are there other examples of how ESSEC has helped you in your future career?

The career services have been beneficial. We have networking sessions to meet alums almost every other week and a study trip to Dubai to visit companies in the country.

I also appreciate how the career services team has been able to personalize their support based on my unique goals.

I aspire to be a product manager in a start-up environment, and the career service advisor has been able to work with me to build a plan for that.

Advice for future SMIB students?

This is the time for self-discovery. You’re in a safe and supportive environment, so be open to the unfamiliar and explore outside your comfort zone!