Building a STEM career

I studied and worked toward an engineering career for many years. After I graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, I joined Rio Tinto, one of the largest metals and mining companies in the world.

As a medium term planning engineer, I currently spend most of my time in the mines of a remote area in Western Australia. In my role, I provide technical mine planning support to help implement and ensure effective mine plans to achieve corporate goals.

Why an engineering degree is not enough

While I have a strong technical background, I also know the importance of having business knowledge. Working for a mining giant, and seeing colleagues scale the ranks with their command and knowledge of various aspects of business, encouraged me to look for courses in business for my own advancement. As an engineer with a very niche background of mining, more often than not my approach to tackle problems was fairly limited and through the single lens of a technical engineer. I recognized that learning business fundamentals was important for broadening my knowledge base.

In addition, I plan to do an MBA at some point, and wanted to understand the basics of what an MBA program may entail. HBX CORe fit the bill perfectly with all my requirements, and I signed up for the program in 2016.

The impact of HBX CORe

All three courses were beneficial to expanding my knowledge base and learning business fundamentalsI was able to use Business Analytics when a project on truck optimization for my site came up while I was enrolled in the course. I was able to apply the statistical concepts that I learned during the course to create an optimizer tool for truck usage and scheduling at the mine.  This tool resulted in significant cost savings, which was highly valued by the site management team.

Before CORe, reading a balance sheet was completely alien to me. Since taking Financial Accounting, I’ve been keeping track of my company’s annual reports, and the accounting that I learned helps me in understanding where the business may head in the future. I’ve also been tracking a few other companies for investment purposes, and I’ve realized that I can make more informed decisions with my improved knowledge of company financials.

Bharat Anand’s Economics for Managers course has proven to be the most influential for my career. Understanding the basic concepts of economics from the course really broadened my approach to various planning-related problems I tackle each day. My ability to identify details related to business efficiency and performance that I may have missed in the past was fine-tuned in the program, and my understanding of the business is now much stronger. After my HBX CORe experience, the level of discussion with my managers at work has been highly insightful and productive.

Learn more about Economics for Managers

The economics coursework has been particularly important in helping me understand pricing. The mining industry experiences cyclical price fluctuation every few years, and now I understand the reasons and factors that dictate these changes and how supply and demand affects commodity pricing. Since completing CORe, I’ve been using the concepts taught in Economics for Managers to build more accurate pricing models for my business so that I can better forecast prices and fluctuations.

Lastly, I’ve been considering a start-up idea I’ve been thinking about for a few years, and the way Economics for Managers was structured and taught is helping me create my business plan. Learning economic principles like pricing and supply and demand have given me confidence in developing my idea.

Pankaj Prashant

About the Author

Pankaj Prashant has completed both HBX CORe as well as the pilot program of Managing Your Career Development. A medium term planning engineer based out of a remote mine site in Western Australia, Prashant took CORe to learn business fundamentals and better understand the business of the mining industry.