Name: Vishnu Gopinath
Hometown: Thrissur, India
Undergraduate Major: Mechanical Engineering
University/Program: UNC Greensboro; First-year MBA student
Hobbies: Soccer (Vishnu plays in UNCG’s intramural league)
Vishnu Gopinath opens up to the UNC Consortium’s Eugene Charles about how he came to UNC Greensboro, his experience in the MBA program, and how this experience has helped him grow as a person and professional.
EC: How did you make the decision to study at UNCG?
VG: A family friend who lives in Raleigh told me about North Carolina and the excellent universities here. They recommended several universities to me. When I started digging deeper, I came across several websites that mentioned UNC Greensboro (UNCG) as a “best value for money” school. Apart from that, UNCG was very swift in responding to my application and flexible on some requirements, such as waiving the face-to-face interview. This is something that would have been difficult for me, as I had yet to arrive in the United States.
EC: How would you describe North Carolina/Greensboro and your experience living here?
VG: Before coming here, I was aware that North Carolina is a southern state in the U.S., but apart from that I didn’t know much about it. Through my research, I learned that North Carolina has a mild climate and a low cost of living relative to other places. That and the fact that I already had a close friend here were major factors in my decision-making process. Now that I’ve gotten to know Greensboro, I would definitely recommend it to other Indian students. It is a quiet, simple city with a lot of really friendly people.
EC: What is the biggest difference between Greensboro and the city that you are from in India?
VG: I would say that the biggest difference between Greensboro and my home town is the incredible diversity of people here. Back in Thrissur there isn’t a lot of diversity. The multitude of races, ethnicities and cultures that I have encountered here in the community and the classroom has really helped me to grow personally and professionally. Through my MBA program, I have made friends from the U.S., other parts of Asia, Europe and even South America and the Caribbean. Coming from a rather homogeneous society, my experience at UNCG has bolstered my ability to relate to people from different cultural backgrounds. I have also learned more about the world and how business is conducted in other countries.
EC: Aside from meeting and working with students from all over the world, what has been your greatest learning experience in your MBA program?
VG: My MBA classes have also exposed me to new teaching methods and technologies that I wouldn’t have encountered in my home country. The experience of working in groups is very new to me. In my undergraduate studies I worked on the majority of my projects alone. There were only two group assignments in my entire engineering program. Here, group work is built in throughout, and it has really helped me to develop as a team member. The use of new and innovative technologies, such as simulation for marketing class and Gapminder software for economics class, has also really enriched my learning experience.
EC: What are your plans after graduation? How has your experience at UNCG prepared you professionally?
VG: As of now, my plans after graduation are up in the air. Whether I stay in the U.S. or return to India, I feel confident that my experience in UNCG’s MBA program will allow me to build on my background in mechanical engineering to become a leader within my organization.
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