Vijay Kasarabada is all about the love. If you bother to do something, anything, he feels you should love it. Why else would you consign yourself to a job, or a marriage, or a family?
“If you’re at work at you’re always waiting for five o’clock,” he says, “maybe you should be doing something else.”
And he does love what he does, although he can’t talk much about it. Suffice to say he’s a vice president at Blackrock — the financial Goliath based on Scudders Mill Road in Plainsboro that is soon to come to University Square at Alexander Road and Route 1 — and he works in technology.
He is equally mum about his wife, Bhavana, a research scientist at a major, Princeton-based pharma company that he will not name.
Past that, Kasarabada is a wide-open book, and if he had a Chapter 1, it would be about loving what you do for a living. You will, after all, spend a lot of time doing it.
It wasn’t a desire to move into the financial field proper that motivated him to pursue his MBA in finance at Rutgers. He received his bachelor’s degree in computer science back in his native India and he wants to stay in the technology realm. What motivated him is twofold — he wanted to broaden his horizons and he wanted to go to school in the United States.
Born in India, Kasarabada could be considered a true global citizen. His father’s job in the oil industry took the family around the world. Between ages 3 and 8, Kasarabada says he was not in India.
Eventually, though, the family settled in New Dehli, where his father now runs an international finance company, and where Kasarabada earned his bachelor’s degree. He came here about 10 years ago with “my two suitcases and pretty much nothing else,” and landed a tech job with Goldman Sachs. Five years ago he and Bhavana married, and two-and-a-half years ago they had their first of two daughters. The second was born in February, and the family lives in East Windsor.
Though life here has been good for Kasarabada, he felt the desire to go back to school. In 2004 he did what most people do — he started thinking about it in earnest, from his couch. He did some Internet research on MBA programs in the state, but that didn’t give him much and he spent the next couple years in an on again-off again flirtation with the idea.
When Kasarabada started looking seriously at MBA programs he at first did it online and quickly moved into the real world. Schools everywhere have open houses, liaisons, even whole departments dedicated to getting prospective students the information they need on programs. “Talk to them,” he says. “You can’t make an informed decision from your couch.”
In 2007 he got his plan together and started his program at Rutgers in New Brunswick, part-time. All together, the degree will cost about $55,000, so he advises being aware of the time and cost of attaining an MBA. But if you can get the money, do it, and if you have good support on the home front, take it. His wife has inherited most of the responsibilities for the children and general household needs while he’s been in school, but Kasarabada says it’s been no issue. “She’s better when she’s busy,” he says.
Kasarabada is plenty busy himself. His schedule changes from semester to semester, but he has gone at least twice a week in the evenings since he started. And given that his classes have been at night, he twice a week leavs the hous at 8 a.m. and doesn’t get home until after 10 p.m. “There have been a couple of semesters where I took an additional class, but for the most part its twice a week,” he says.
At least he has company, though. “The MBA is always pretty intensive as far as group participation,” he says. “Most classes have group presentations and projects that involve interaction outside the classroom. Some times conference calls and E-mails suffice, but most times we meetup during the library and campus hours during the semester. Once even in each others homes.”
Kasarabada’s expects to finish by the end of December. And even before he’s done, he can tell he’s a different person. His degree path has made him more confident, more aware, and more able to find the balance his lifestyle requires.
Balancing work, family, and school, he says, takes organization, time management, and family support. It also takes the discipline to shut out distractions. Kasarabada has been TV-free since he started his MBA, and he doesn’t miss it. “I’m in 2007 where the movies are concerned,” he says.
The other side of this is managing the expectations of your family. Kasarabada has a large family, which means there is always another birthday, another anniversary, another special occasion. But as much as you might want to attend them all, he says, “you can’t attend every party. You need to inform people of your restrictions.”
And something he learned from saying no is that people actually understand.
Getting through an MBA also takes the ability to separate and disengage. Take his devotion to school, for instance. “Sure I’m looking to get the most out of school,” he says. “But I’m not going to spend hours and hours and hours on every project.”
In other words, pick your battles. Know when it’s time to devote your energies to school, to work, and to life. And the easiest way to do that, he says, is to pay attention to which one needs you the most at any one time. “You need to realize that you will never get 100 percent out of all three areas at the same time,” he says. “You can’t be perfect every day, but over time it works out.”
Kasarabada advises that you be realistic about what you can get done. He doesn’t have a daily to-do list, but he doesn’t feel he needs one, for one simple reason — he always knows what needs getting done because it’s the most pressing. “At the end of the day, the most important things get done,” he says. Small, unimportant things get taken off the list or just shoved back. And if they get to be important, they get done.
Kasarabada also advises doing taking some sort of action, even minor action, if you are looking to do anything. If you want to go for an MBA, have a family, buy a house, or whatever, there is never an ideal time, so stop looking for one. “Excuses are easy,” he says. So just keep going, in small steps, if necessary.
The application procedess itself can take a long time, Kasarabada says, particularly if you need to take a GRE test. Start there. If you do a little bit now and a little bit every day, in three years you will be three years better off than you would be had you just stayed on the couch. One way or another you’ll be three years older. “It’s better to get started than to never do,” he says.
#b#Rutgers Business School — Newark and New Brunswick#/b#, 94 Rockafeller Road, Janice H. Levin Building, Piscataway 08854-1895; 973-353-1234; fax, 973-353-1345. Michael Cooper, dean. Home page: www.business.rutgers.edu.