Student Spotlight: Parth Choksi

For Parth Choksi, current full-time MEM student, flexibility in course options is essential. Parth is a graduate of the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay, India with degrees in Mechanical Engineering and a career path that has included project engineering, founding a start-up, and sports broadcasting. Outside of MEM he likes watching European Football (Soccer), Formula 1 and eSports, as well as gaming (Dota 2) and practicing his secret talent – singing! Read on for more about his Northwestern MEM experience.

What made you decide to pursue a MEM degree?

I graduated as a Mechanical Engineer in 2013, post which, I worked for 6 years in multiple roles and wore different hats. I started off as a Project Engineer in a factory at one of India's biggest CPG conglomerates. After that, I started my own startup in Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality space as the Co-founder and Head of Product and Technology. After running it for 3 years, our startup got acquired. I then joined Star Sports, India's biggest sports broadcasting company in their Product Department as the head of New Technologies and Innovation. On thinking back about my journey, I realized that building Products is something that I enjoy and wanted to pursue a path of Product Management in the future. The MEM program is a perfect combination of Technology and Management which is something that Product Managers need to be good at in order to excel.

Favorite Class/Professor?

Although this was my first quarter at NU, I believe Product Management by Prof. Birju Shah was the best course that I've taken in my entire life! Both the structure and the content of the course make it really unique. The course has been designed in such a way that you actually end up building a Product at the end of 10 weeks! In addition to that, the course is highly interactive in nature. The professor talks about his learning and experiences at different stages of his career and brings in a lot of guest speakers, which makes it really engaging.

What is the most surprising aspect of your experience in the program?

This program has been designed to build make engineers into good managers. In almost every course, we have team activities and projects, some of which last an entire quarter! This ensures that we work with people from different backgrounds and cultures, which is a simulation of what ends up happening in real life! Along with that, we also get to interact and partner with part-time students who are a part of MEM, some of whom have more than 15 years of work experience. This is something that I believe is really unique to this program and is one of the most surprising aspects of my experience.

How does the program experience prepare you to reach your professional and career goals?

I want to pursue Product Management and build amazing products in the long term. The courses like Product Management and elective options like Designing Product Interactions (in the Segal School of Design) provide a great learning opportunity. Courses like Leadership and Organizational Behavior are important when it comes to learning about leading teams and products. Additionally, the fact that this program is designed for Engineers makes it even easier since the 'technical' language spoken by the professors as well as fellow classmates is similar.

What is distinct about your program experience?  What draws you in?

The best part about MEM at NU is that it provides a lot of flexibility in terms of choosing courses. There are options to choose courses from other schools like the Segal School of Design. Last quarter, I opted for a course called Designing Product Interactions which was a different experience in itself, as I was the only non-design student in the entire class. I am planning to take a course in the Department of Radio, Television, and Film in the next quarter. Most of the other schools do not provide this sort of flexibility.
 

What do you feel you’re learning from Northwestern’s program that you might not be experiencing elsewhere?

The opportunity to take courses in different schools like the Design School, Kellogg School of Management as well as the Department of Radio, Television, and Film is something that is unique to Northwestern's MEM program.
 

What advice would you give future/prospective students?

Students should come with an open mind and should look at exploring things that are outside their comfort zone. The MEM program is really flexible and can be fine-tuned to a great extent. There will be fellow students who have 2 years of work experience as well as part-time students with 20 years of work experience! There might be classmates who might have already completed their Ph.D.'s! The learning and networking opportunities that this program provides, from the faculty, as well as fellow students, are immense.