Recently nominated for the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for social impact, Aakriti Agrawal, ’16 & ’22, champions making a difference at work and in her communities. An award-winning nonprofit founder and data governance expert, she recently graduated from the MBA@Nebraska program in May and moved to Phoenix, Arizona, to launch her career as a manager of data governance at American Express (AmEx), a Fortune 100 company.
“I loved my MBA experience. I could immediately apply what I learned in class to my professional and nonprofit life through classes such as Initiating and Managing Entrepreneurial Growth (ENTR 821) and Nonprofit Management (MNGT 871),” Agrawal said. “I met people from around the world who continue to be close friends and mentors for me and help me grow my own knowledge even after we've gained our degrees.”
At AmEx, she took on the role in a newly created team and was soon asked to lead a major project. Two months later in a global town hall meeting, Agrawal received recognition for her contributions to her business line.
“With 73,000 people in the entire company, I was shocked to be recognized, especially while being so new! I’m fortunate to be on a team that shares my desire to get things done,” she said.
Agrawal first came to Nebraska from India for her bachelor's degree in actuarial science and finance. After graduation, she set onto a path toward a career in data governance and started teaching herself how to code. With this knowledge, she co-founded Girls Code Lincoln, a Nebraska-based nonprofit, to teach fourth through ninth grade girls how to computer program and built a community of supporters who wanted to help close the gender gap in STEM.
“Founding a nonprofit with no nonprofit experience is tough, but we leaned on our community. My co-founders — Nicci (Poehling) Peterson, '16, and Justin Stark — and I spoke to dozens of people to learn how to do this, and the community helped make our vision a reality," Agrawal said. "This year, before I stepped down from the board, we hosted the Girls Code Lincoln podcast where we interviewed inspiring women in various areas of STEM and leadership, such as Tracy Bohaboj of Duncan Aviation and Connie Collingsworth of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who we met at the college’s Women Lead Conference."
Agrawal presented a TEDxOmaha talk about closing the gender gap in tech through the principles used at Girls Code Lincoln. The talk currently has over 3,000 views on YouTube. She continues to challenge herself with impactful speaking opportunities and plans to present at her first national data governance conference this December.
“My time at Nebraska taught me to step outside of my comfort zone. There were a lot of opportunities that I never expected to lead to anything, but they did — so I learned early that I should try different things and see where they take me,” she said.
A few days apart in 2021, she won Lincoln’s Inspire Founders Award and was named Emerging Leader of the Year by the Lincoln Chamber Young Professionals Group.
“It was an honor to be recognized for my community involvement, and I was so proud to celebrate with my parents,” she said. “I've been so fortunate, and I couldn't have done any of it without Lincoln or the College of Business.”
With her “Start Something” attitude, Agrawal was selected as an inaugural Entrepreneurship Fellow where she will mentor students through the Nebraska Center for Entrepreneurship. While continuing to engage with the college’s community, she plans to remove barriers for other nonprofit founders globally through her new venture, The Nonprofiting Org.
To learn more about the MBA@Nebraska program, visit: https://mba.unl.edu.
From day one, you'll engage in unique hands-on learning opportunities and prepare to make a difference on campus and beyond. We can’t wait to see what you’ll create.
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MBA@Nebraska Points of Pride
Published: December 1, 2022
of MBA@Nebraska graduates secured employment within six months of graduation
(August 2020-May 2021)
alumni salary increase
- Financial Times, 2022