CDS Fellows Spotlight: Ashwin Chandrasekhar T’24

June 10th, 2024

Hometown

Bangalore, India

What did you do prior to Tuck?

I was Vice President at startup building and deploying products for SMBs in India.

What made you want to be part of the CDS fellows program?

Fellows bring a variety of backgrounds and interests to the table so you get to learn constantly. I feel better informed about the applications of AI to industries such as healthcare, music, and financial services because of peers’ interest in these topics. Secondly, CDS is one of the most curated platforms at Tuck. The center works closely with students and deeply knows their professional and intellectual interests. This allows CDS to facilitate conversations, connections, and conferences in a very customized manner. The team at CDS knew my interest in digital transformation of community banks and was able to get me in touch with all the right people so I could deepen both my knowledge but also my network in that very niche topic of interest.

What other activities were you involved in at Tuck?

I was the chair of Tuck’s Men As Allies club. I was also a career development fellow at Tuck’s Business Bridge program where I mentored undergraduate students, especially those from non-traditional backgrounds, on their careers.

What has been the biggest growth moment at Tuck, where you stepped out of your comfort zone? What did you learn from that experience?

I gave a Tuck Talk, one of our more fabled programs where 5 students once every quarter speak about their life’s more emotional and difficult moments. I felt very anxious sharing my experiences at a military school with 300+ students and faculty but I was proud that I did and several Tuckies came to me after (and continue to come to me) and tell me how my story touched them!

What CDS learning opportunities or experiences have you learned the most from your time at Tuck?

My project on Community Banks and FinTech partnerships has helped me meet several community bank CEOs, ecosystem building organizations, and FinTech infrastructure companies. My research has really allowed me to develop an understanding on how legacy institutions that have a deep positive impact in our community could be revitalized through a modern technology stack and 21st century business models. It’s learning I can apply to a variety of contexts!

What class at Tuck pushed your thinking the most?

The Early Stage VC practicum made me go through a real-time simulation of venture capital. I went through 60+ pitch decks, conducted due diligence on 6 startups and their founders, authored investment memos for real VC partners, and then had partner meetings with them to defend my investment recommendation. Finally, I also did a mock negotiation of a term sheet with a founder. The class was incredibly rigorous but I wasn’t bored for a single moment and as an aspiring entrepreneur, I came out with the takeaway that I can do this!

What books are you reading, podcasts are you listening to, or shows are you watching?

Podcasts: Acquired (history of Big Tech firms in 4-hour-long episodes), Breaking Banks (how legacy banks can survive disruption);
Books: Ask Your Developer by Twilio’s founder Jeff Lawson, Another Country by James Baldwin, Accelerating India’s Development by Karthik Muralidharan;
Shows: Bachelor in Paradise 😀

What advice do you have for Tuck students interested in tech- and digitally-focused career pathways?

The tech world is big. Find your niche. Find your passion and then double down. Meet all the people. Email all the founders. Become an expert.

 

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