“I want my career to have multiple dimensions, and my education at Olin has opened my eyes to how I can manage this idea into a reality.”
While in her second year at the Washington University School of Medicine, Nishkala Shivakumar knew she was passionate about her career in medicine and the medical community, but felt there was more out there to explore.
“I remember knowing I was passionate about medicine and patient care,” she said, “but at the same time, realizing that there was a part of me that felt unfulfilled.”
It was then that the Greensboro, North Carolina, native began her path to a dual degree as a physician and an MBA through a collaboration with Washington University School of Medicine (WUSM) and Olin.
Collaboration leads to success
In spite of the numerous challenges involved in attending medical school while pursuing an MBA, close communication between advocates at Olin and WUSM has helped Shivakumar make it happen. This collaboration drove her choice of Olin for her MBA.
“I was able to work with both WUSM and Olin to pursue an MBA while remaining close to the healthcare community I had built connections with over the previous three years.”
Introduction to entrepreneurship
Before attending Olin, “I had not fully realized the accessibility of entrepreneurship,” Shivakumar said. “However, from the beginning of my time at Olin, I was exposed to various ways to get involved in entrepreneurship—especially in St. Louis—which has become one of the startup hotspots in the US.”
She explained, “based on my experiences in the entrepreneurship curriculum, it became clear to me that I would like entrepreneurship to play a role in my career as a future physician.”
A global experience
Olin’s commitment to being globally oriented spoke to Shivakumar, a child of immigrant parents. “I enjoyed the opportunity to immerse myself in various cultures around the world,” she said. During her time as a student at Olin, she was able to take international excursions to expand her learning. She thanks Olin for opportunities she would never have been able to pursue otherwise.
“Being able to travel the world, albeit intensely, was a time for me to fully open myself to how other parts of the world operate through their businesses and cultures,” Shivakumar said. “Ultimately, having that experience was instrumental in informing me as a future physician and businessperson.”
A collaborative, supportive community
With the help of the entire Olin community, she sees the world, and her career, in a different light.
“From Ashley Macrander to Tom Fields to Doug Villhard, there have been many people at Olin who have influenced the way I envision my career,” she said. “I am consistently surprised and impressed by the quality of advisers and professors here at Olin.”
But it is her peers whom she most credits for her success and growth at Olin.
“To be able to meet so many different people with different backgrounds and different career interests has been invigorating,” Shivakumar said. “I have made some lifelong connections that will help me continue to grow in my career, but more importantly, as a human being.”
Nishkala Shivakumar, MD/MBA 2021
Physician, entrepreneurship, consulting
Pre-MBA: direct from undergraduate school
Education: BS, biomedical engineering, Duke University
Hometown: Greensboro, NC
Key Olin success drivers
Commitment to diversity and inclusion
Olin's collaborative environment
Key Olin pillars of excellence