Duke Made It Easy to Find My Passion

Anagha Suchitra, MEM'17, has made the most of career-building opportunities—including interning with Consumer Reports in New York City and winning the 2017 Intuit Product Management Case Competition

By Jeni Baker

Master of Engineering Management student Anagha Suchitra wanted to be a product manager long before she knew that there is such a thing.

“Technology has always fascinated me—the process of innovation and how it constantly changes to help people achieve their goals,” Suchitra said.

“I’ve wanted to be at the center of that—driving the technological innovation, interacting with people, and building products that change lives—but before I came to Duke, I didn’t know that such a career exists.”

Suchitra earned an undergraduate degree in electronics and communication engineering in her native India. Prior to coming to Duke, she worked for Accenture as a software product analyst, and the product she worked on was launched.

“During the process, we got to know both the technology and the business sides of it—how our product helped customers and impacted business—which was so cool,” she says. “That’s when I decided to pursue a higher degree to help me get more involved with that.

“I was impressed by what I read about the Duke MEM Program online, and when a friend shared her experiences, I decided that Duke offered exactly what I was looking for.

“With all the options and opportunities at Duke, it was easy to find my passion in product management during my very first semester,” she said. “Students have a lot of flexibility in choosing the paths they’re interested in and the kinds of opportunities those paths provide.”

Suchitra collage

“Best summer ever!”

The MEM Program requires that students complete an internship, and Suchitra enthusiastically pursued the opportunity. Her online networking led to a phone call with a product manager, then an interview, then a three-month internship with Consumer Reports in New York City this summer.

Anagha Suchitra“It was a great experience that I’m sure will propel me forward,” she said. “I got solid experience dealing with actual product managers and doing real things in the field I’m passionate about.”

Her time in NYC led to another career-building opportunity: a chance to participate in Intuit’s Product Management Case Competition.

She and her partner, Pyay Aung San of New York University, developed a concept for a bookkeeping application for small-business owners and built a prototype.

“Our task was to come up with a new, innovative, useful app that will make people’s lives easier,” she said. “We interviewed real small-business owners to get feedback on our prototype, and then brainstormed to make improvements based on that feedback.”

Suchitra and San’s hard work paid off. They won first place in the competition, traveling to Mountain View, Calif., in September 2017 to present their product.

“The people at Intuit were really excited with what we came up with, and thought it was great that we were able to build something that will be so useful,” Suchitra said.

Not only is Intuit considering developing their app into an actual product, she and San were awarded a $2,000 prize.

Suchitra—who plans to pursue a career as a product manager in the software industry—documented her internship and the Intuit case competition on her LinkedIn page, ending her series of posts with “Hands down, best summer ever!”

Brad Fox, associate dean of master’s programs for Duke Engineering, is delighted by Suchitra’s activities and accomplishments through the MEM Program.

“Anagha’s is the type of fantastic experience we hope all our students participate in, whether it’s in academics, internships, or activities like competitions,” he said.

“This is a wonderful example of a student coming here to get a master’s degree to change the trajectory of their career, explore new opportunities and experiences, and take advantage of everything that Duke has to offer.”

Suchitra agrees that her time at Duke has helped to prepare her for future success: “The experiences I’ve had in the MEM Program have expanded my abilities, developed my analytical and leadership skills, and built my confidence to pursue this career.”