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Surabhi Bhandari (photo by Susan Young)

Surabhi Bhandari (MBA 2017) wants to launch a medical technology startup in India that will help revolutionize health care in her native country. “Multinational companies dominate the medical technology segment there,” says the second-year MBA student. “I believe an indigenous company that understands the way India works will be better able to tackle the complex problems that drive up costs.”

Bhandari points to innovations such as telemedicine, which can connect health professionals with those living in remote locations in India, as one solution. She also explored ways that health care products can be produced at lower costs, making them accessible to larger populations, while working for a Boston-based medical technology company during the summer of 2016.

A fellowship is making it possible for Bhandari to attend HBS. Earning her MBA, she says, will enable her “to look at myself and my home country from a very different perspective.” In the first-year Required Curriculum, she found Business, Government, and the International Economy to be especially insightful in benchmarking India’s problems and opportunities in relation to other countries. She also notes that Leadership and Organizational Behavior “opened my eyes to my own internal leadership strengths and weaknesses.”

“I want to build a healthy future for India,” states Bhandari, whose first two jobs after graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi offered starkly contrasting views of health care realities in India.

Working in New Delhi for McKinsey & Company, Bhandari helped produce a report for the government that offered a 10-year vision for the country’s health care system. She was particularly struck by the inadequacy of facilities in rural areas. “Basic health care is not accessible to a majority of Indian people,” she observes, noting that conditions in remote villages “drain life and productivity” from the entire country.

In contrast, in a subsequent job as an investment analyst for Sequoia Capital in Mumbai, Bhandari looked at companies developing sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools that, she says, “could have huge potential to improve rural health care—if they could be made affordably.”

To Bhandari, the financial aid she has received from HBS makes it possible for her to “continue working toward being a health care entrepreneur, instead of taking a job with immediate cash rewards,” she says. “The fellowship enables me to move a step closer to having a very real impact on people back in India.”

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