The Luminis AGSM Wharton Business Innovation Scholarship provides a rare opportunity for outstanding leaders to forge a remarkable career.

Trisha Shastri is one such leader and the third recipient of this prestigious award. She is part of the AGSM @ UNSW Business School’s Full-Time MBA 2020 cohort of ambitious professionals preparing for the challenges of a rapidly changing world.

“When I was looking into MBA options I was trying to work out whether I should study an MBA here in Australia, or explore opportunities in the US,” she says.

Co-funded by AGSM and the Luminis Foundation – Luminis Partners’ community-focused philanthropic initiative – the scholarship provides recipients with a coveted opportunity to study at both AGSM and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, along with the possibility of a US-based work placement.

“The Luminis Scholarship offered the perfect trifecta for me. I want to build and maintain my networks here, but I’m also keen to expand my options overseas,” says Shastri. “Plus, it’s an incredible opportunity to study at two of the best business schools in the world.”

A unique element of the scholarship focuses on awarding an MBA candidate who has a record of business innovation. Although she’s still in the early stages of her career, Shastri had already demonstrated significant innovative contributions at KPMG while working as an operations consultant.

“I worked on an internal data coherence initiative, looking at KPMG’s internal practice management to find new ways to improve how it works,” says Shastri. This project involved pulling together data from different sources within KPMG to help senior Operations Advisory leaders make more informed decisions on managing business performance.

“The diverse data sources had never been aligned and captured in a single dashboard, making it difficult for senior leaders to make optimal decisions,” says Shastri. “I came up with the idea and rolled out a new integrated dashboard. It has the ability to harmonise data from multiple sources and helps the users drill down on both opportunities and problem areas for the business. It was the first time I’d been able to contribute to strategic decision making, adding value to my team beyond what was expected of me as a consultant.”

The success of this project sparked Shastri’s interest in how data informs decision-making, and so she decided to explore further study. “I had reached a point in my career where I wanted more challenges, to understand other options that would suit my interests in terms of analysing data, thinking strategically, improving performance,” says Shastri. “And I wanted to take a proactive approach in shaping my future career and set some significant goals.”

Shastri says with her experiential learning style a Full-Time MBA program was the ideal choice. “I really want to immerse myself in the experience and take up as many opportunities as I can, getting involved in the AGSM community, competitions and the exciting Wharton exchange program.”

Six weeks in, she knows she’s on the right path.

“It’s been amazing so far. The AGSM MBA is already exceeding my expectations,” she says. “It’s a very practical program. The diversity is a huge bonus, with 53 students coming from very different backgrounds – both culturally and career-wise.”

Her cohort includes people from military, medical, media and marketing and finance backgrounds –from 18 different nationalities. “Having all of these different perspectives is incredibly energising – it’s already expanding my thoughts and challenging the way that I think.”

Becoming an effective and confident leader is a growth area Shastri has identified to focus on. “I had a mentor at KPMG, and she had a big influence on me. Sometimes I would feel intimidated by all the amazing people around me there,” she says. “But when I doubted myself, she believed in my capabilities, helped me see what I could do, and pushed me further.”

The AGSM MBA experience is also designed to foster confidence in decision-making and leadership, and Shastri is already feeling the benefits of her experience.

“You get thrown into situations where there’s no time to plan or think, so you really have to trust your instinct and trust the people around you,” she says. “You have to find the confidence to say ‘yes this is what we’ll do as a team’, then act quickly and act with courage – I’ve already seen a big improvement in my confidence.”

When Shastri travels to The Wharton School later this year, she’ll have the chance to further her education in the dynamic US business world. She says she is ready for the challenge.

“I’m very fortunate to have this unique opportunity and I intend to get the most out of it,” she says. “I really encourage others to look at doing an AGSM Full-Time MBA. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to stop and look at your strengths, the areas you can improve, and then determine what you need to do to move forward personally and professionally. It’s a wonderful environment for internal reflection.”

AGSM offers a number of MBA Full-Time scholarships to support exceptional future leaders from diverse backgrounds, and help them gain a world-class education. You can learn more about the Luminis AGSM Wharton Business Innovation Scholarship and other scholarships here.