Sejal Desai, MBA’99

Smiling sajal desai in a group with children at Dream a Dream foundation

Program Director, Entrepreneurs for North Texas

Establishing the Desai Family Fellowship at Naveen Jindal School of Management is just one thing Desai has done to improve the lives of others. Since her graduate school days, she worked for several years with STARTech, a tech incubator; was partner in a program that encourages children to study science and pursue higher education; established a social business that connects international travelers with agencies in India needing volunteer help; has served on the philanthropy council for North Texas Food Bank; and worked in community engagement for a real estate firm. Now she is with Entrepreneurs For North Texas, a Communities Foundation of Texas program.

What is your favorite UT Dallas memory?

Some of the faculty took a keen interest in my future and made connections for me that have truly impacted my life in many ways. It was on account of the confidence and support of Dr. Ram Rao and his introduction to a new up-and-coming tech incubator that I began an unpaid internship with STARTech toward the end of my first semester. Within a matter of a year and half, I was part of the founding team.

What UT Dallas experience inspired you the most?

Learning to define my own success. This is what I say to others: spend the majority of your day doing something you are passionate about. Define success for yourself and be happy with your own definition. Do not let others define success for you. Be grateful at every stage in your life. Hope for some early failures as they will teach you a lot. Count your wealth in terms of the number of meaningful relationships you have built, not money in the bank. If you were lucky, pay it forward.

What advice do you have for college students looking to succeed professionally?

I believe in diversifying one’s personal portfolio. I have applied theories learned in finance and investment to real life. Prior to starting my MBA, I was with Ernst & Young in Mumbai, India, working in corporate advisory services, doing mergers and acquisitions, business valuations and more. All these different career experiences shape who I am today.

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