Interview with Thomas Thekkekandam '10 of McKinsey and Company

Interview by Howie Rhee. Published August 1, 2014.


What did you do before Fuqua and where did you live? 
I co-founded Nourish International, a student-led non-profit that helps high school and college students run business ventures, which in turn fund sustainable development projects. We built an organization that has since grown to 60+ campus chapters and 113 development projects in 28 countries. This experience gave me the entrepreneurial bug which led me to next join The Link Group, where I helped Fortune 500 companies make product marketing decisions.

What did you focus on at Fuqua? What were your main activities and areas of study? 
Ultimately, I came to Fuqua because I wanted to get a deeper understanding of the skill sets necessary for launching and building a business. I spent a lot of time focused on P4E, where I worked with several teammates on three different startups. I was also a dual degree candidate at the Law School, so I took quite a few business law courses. Outside of class, I tried hard to learn as much as I could from the varied experiences of my classmates, which meant I was a member of several clubs, attended all sorts of conferences, took part in consulting and business plan competitions, and had a near-perfect Fuqua Friday attendance record.

What did you do after Fuqua?
I have been at McKinsey and Company for the last three-and-a-half years. While at the Firm I've focused on front line sales, organization and team building, capital productivity, and regulatory affairs for clients in a variety of industries. McKinsey has been an amazing place to continue my journey of learning about what makes great businesses great. I learned from some of the brightest people in the world and sharpened my business judgement, team (and client) management skills, and knowledge of several industries.

Where do you see yourself in the future? 
My true passion has always been about building companies that help solve some of the worlds big problems and I've always had a particular interest in food security and healthy diets. In the near future, I plan to build a consumer-focused company in this space.

Any key pieces of advice to pass on to Fuqua students? 
Two pieces of advice: (1) Business school is an amazing opportunity to learn as much from other students around you as from your professors. Take every opportunity you can to work collaboratively with your classmates or just engage in debate. You will learn a ton from the collective hundreds of years of experience your peers bring to the table. (2) Don't miss opportunities to experiment outside of the traditional career paths - your MBA is one of the last times you will ever have so much freedom and so little risk, but two years will fly by. So from day one take every chance you get to volunteer for small companies, explore startup opportunities, meet leaders in the business world, and ask hard questions of yourself about what you're truly passionate about.

Favorite memory of Fuqua? 
Working on three different startups. The P4E gave me the framework and resources to rapidly test the viability of three different business ideas while I was at Fuqua. This was an amazing learning opportunity that accelerated my growth as an entrepreneur. Though my teammate and I ultimately decided not to pursue any of the three technologies we worked on (probably the right decisions), we both came out of the experience even more passionate and excited about eventually starting something together.

-----

Read other profiles of Duke entrepreneurs

 

Follow DukeGEN on Twitter and Facebook

Comments