Purya Chauhan: Applying Business Development Skills to the Technology Sector

Purya Chauhan (‘13) wanted to become a technology leader. Hailing from a computer science and engineering background, he had worked for 15 plus years in the technology space, including a VP role at Citi in app development and delivery. Chauhan knew that he wanted to further develop his strategic thinking skills and advance his career through education. However, after exploring M.B.A. options, he decided to enroll in the Technology Management executive master’s program.

He told us that the Technology Management graduate program gave him a broader perspective of how to be a leader at an organization. From speaking to leadership to training teams, his experience in the program helped him go from Manager of Advisory Services at KPMG to Director in a year.

We spoke with Chauhan about the Technology Management program, work/life balance, and his career.

What brought you to the Technology Management graduate program?

I was the Head of the IT Solutions Group that provides technology delivery, systems integration and solutions development for a midsize commercial bank. Additionally, I led a key business transformation program from inception to implementation. I was responsible for ensuring that the information was used as a strategic asset to deliver profitable revenue growth as well as for providing better customer experience.

I joined the graduate program in 2012. As I was progressing in my career, my desire to go to school was growing as well. I almost applied for an M.B.A. program, but I did not want to change my career from technology to finance or another discipline. Then, I became aware of the Technology Management Executive M.S. program.

How did you balance work, school, and your personal life?

Doing the graduate program while working was very challenging. At work, I was leading a major business transformation program in order to revitalize our online banking. Then, there was the class from 6:00 - 9:00 pm. Then, there was my family – we have two kids. It was really challenging, but the bright spot was, every day, I had a spark. I was motivated to go to school and learn from my professors and cohort.

In what ways was the program valuable for you?

How it added value for me, first of all, the program gave me a big-picture view. It's a total change in mindset. You have to understand the context of your value-add. If you're working for a bank, how are you impacting the bottom line of your organization, or saving money for the bank, or providing a better experience for the customer, or growing the business, or adding to the organization’s infrastructure in a way that will add value in the future?

With that mindset, I was able to fine-tune my approach and critical thinking. It also helped me deal with global teams, which sometimes suffered from cultural barriers. I learned how to change my own behavior to accommodate others’ needs. I incorporated that sensitivity in my approach. Columbia SPS’s signature course provided a unique learning experience where every student of the program receives the mentorship from practicing CIO.

You recently received a promotion. Can you tell me about that?

I joined KPMG in October 2014. Although I wanted to be the director at the time, I did not have business development experience, so I was not ready for that kind of role. I had to demonstrate my skills and determination to deliver above and beyond.

Within a few months, I had an opportunity to showcase my value-add. For example, when you prepare a business proposal, it's not just another Powerpoint presentation, it’s about the content itself. How do you package your message, how do you deliver your message, and how do you deliver it effectively to client executives and to company’s principals?

One year after joining KPMG, I earned a promotion as director. The Technology Management graduate program, which helped me advance career, is a world-class educational experience combined with the exposure to a broad spectrum of tools and resources.

Learn more about the Technology Management graduate program.