Our Five Under Five column features a Q&A with a Whitman School alumna/alumnus who graduated within the last five years. In this issue, meet Ratna Khanduja ’16, a native of New Delhi who now calls New York City home. Khanduja triple majored in management, marketing and supply chain management at Whitman. Today, she serves as a consultant in Deloitte’s Human Capital Transformation practice. In this role, she supports clients in defining their HR strategy and analyzing and revising current HR processes to increase efficiency, while also advising them on new designs and implementation of global HR transformation programs.
- Did you have early influences who spurred your interest in business?
I come from a business family. My dad is an entrepreneur in India who worked tirelessly to transform his business into a global front runner. My mom is the vice president and general manager of Le Meridien Hotel and serves on the board of multiple nonprofits and as a mentor to many. She is currently working on a new business idea with colleagues. Growing up, I saw their passion, resilience and zest to bring change for generations to follow, which spurred my interest earlier than I can even remember.
- What factored into your decision to choose Syracuse University?
I remember visiting campus as a prospective student. Within five minutes, I knew it was where I wanted to be. The sense of belonging and knowing that there is an army of people (professors, staff, alumni) to support you was all I needed. And a surprise visit from Otto helped make my decision easier. Still today, there is a great sense of pride and togetherness that comes with being a Syracuse alumna.
- How do you feel Whitman prepared you for your career?
Whitman’s well-rounded curriculum has helped my career in many ways. At Deloitte, I often go back to the foundational skills I learned in management classes. Whitman does a great job preparing you to work in teams with colleagues from diverse cultures and mindsets. As a consultant, I regularly interact with new people from across the globe. My experiences at Whitman helped me become comfortable working with a variety of people in any setting.
- Would you like to give a message to any of your Whitman professors?
Though every professor I had at SU impacted me, I wouldn’t be where I am now without Professors Alex McKelvie and Don Cardarelli. I came to SU to major in economics until I took a class with Professor McKelvie my freshman year. I leaned on him for advice during my transfer to Whitman. He went above and beyond to support me. Professor Cardarelli is one of the greatest people I have ever met, and he is so passionate about teaching and his students. He is the reason I went into the HR strategy and consulting industry.
- What do you do to de-stress or keep balance in your life?
It’s always important to de-stress, but especially during these unprecedented times. I have always enjoyed dancing. At Syracuse University, I led the Bhangra team. Today I host virtual dance classes for kids and different nonprofits. I also work with Minds Matter, an organization that connects students from low-income families with people and resources to succeed in college. The student I have been mentoring for three years just got accepted into her dream school.