What was your career history before Stax and what is unique about your background and experience?
Prior to Stax, I worked at another strategy consulting firm. Our projects would typically tend longer term - helping clients develop actionable plans for their most pressing issues such as revitalizing growth after major industry events, how to go-to-market, approaches to gain market share, scaling the business to meet aggressive growth plans, developing operating models for new businesses, etc.
My prior consulting experience in strategy development and execution, combined with an academic background of MBA (Ohio State University) and B.E. in Computer Engineering (University of Mumbai, India) provides a unique perspective on Stax projects and allows me to incorporate the actionability of the recommendations we make to our clients.
Why Stax? What were you looking for?
While I enjoyed the work at my prior firm, I wanted to deepen my focus on strategy development and M&A, and help unlock value for private equity firms and their portfolio companies. As I was considering this transition, I networked with several folks in consulting and came upon Stax - a brand name in the private equity space, with the breadth of client engagements across scope/sectors. While these were important considerations, my primary drivers to seeking Stax were the ability to make an impact in a growing firm, as well as to work in a culture that would resemble my personal values (collaboration, inclusion, and respect for other teammates).
Describe your career progression at Stax, your current role, and what unique opportunities Stax has provided?
I joined Stax as a Consultant in 2015 and later promoted to Manager. At Stax the role of a Manager on client engagements is broad - from co-owning the deliverable along with the Managing Director, managing the client relationship and business development process to driving our internal problem-solving processes. The client-facing aspect of our work is not just limited to Managers and Managing Directors - I'd say that it's applicable to everyone on the client delivery team. Given the smaller size of core teams and the ability to tap into a vast pool of specialist resources, everyone is encouraged to put their best foot forward and there are tremendous opportunities for team members to play an active role in shaping the client engagement/relationship.
There are very few firms that can compete with Stax on the type of engagements/clients served. While I have managed more than 75+ engagements across verticals at Stax, every project brings a new way of understanding the markets and potential hypotheses that unlock value for private equity firms. I don’t think another firm could have offered the same experience working on such diverse projects across sectors, e.g., Fintech, EdTech, Healthcare, Enterprise Tech, Industrial Services, etc. A couple of unique engagements include assessing the longer-term future of the housing market and projecting birth rates in the U.S. over a 10+ year timeframe.
Tell us about your leadership role at Stax outside project work, how have you made a firm-wide impact?
I helped revamp our onboarding program to equip new hires with core knowledge of Stax problem-solving processes and approaches, which is a testament to how Stax values empowering everyone to drive change in our work. Leadership was very supportive to focus onboarding through a real-life case example and enabling new hires to understand the typical workings of the Stax approach.
As we continue to deliver to our aggressive growth plans, recruiting has been another key focus area for the firm and for me personally. I have enjoyed partnering with our leaders in building the Stax brand across the potential new hire landscape -- from targeting top business schools to identifying and evaluating high potential experienced hires.
What characteristics do you believe define a Staxer? What skills, experience will help a candidate succeed in our unique and fast-paced environment?
There are several foundational consulting capabilities we look for in new hires -- intellectual rigor, deep data-driven analytical skills, critical thinking and problem-solving, etc. In my experience, academic backgrounds in business, engineering, mathematics, and economics typically tend to be more prevalent, but these capabilities can be found in people of any background. This is the reason why we focus on case-based interviews of potential candidates.
I think the key differentiating capability that generally separates strong candidates from good candidates is the ability to deal with ambiguity. While each of us has broader experiences and depth within certain sectors, there are always newer angles and niches to analyze on client projects. The consultants that bring a strong problem-solving structure to a relatively ambiguous situation demonstrate their ability to break a complex problem into manageable pieces and begin allocating time/resources to address each piece, eventually integrating these into a comprehensive solution.
I would recommend anyone interested in rolling up their sleeves and working on interesting/complex client engagements across a wide variety of industries to consider Stax. To build on that, those who are further interested in playing an active role in their career development and seek to have an impact at the firm through project/non-project work should strongly consider joining Stax.
What is your favorite place in Chicago and why?
Streeterville. I am a stickler for high-rises and communities that live in/around them. Probably due to my experience growing up in densely packed Mumbai, I enjoy the energy in such neighborhoods, the ease of access to beaches, parks, restaurants, bars, etc.
What TV show are you currently binge-watching?
The Serpent - I love watching crime shows! Have watched Night Stalker, Hannibal, Mindhunter, Unabomber, etc. to name a few recent ones.
How do you like to spend your time outside the virtual office?
Used to be hanging out with friends/family, going out, and traveling to new destinations. However, with Covid and recent life changes (my wife and I are now parents) most of our free time is now spent hiking or at playgrounds.