Shrinivas V. Dempo (TPR '95) had big shoes to fill. With a career at his family's business mapped out for him, he didn't need an MBA for job security. But Dempo knew that family connections don't ensure success.
"My grandfather, who never got an education himself, was determined I should get the best one possible," Dempo said. "When it came time to apply to schools, he was comparing rankings, prominent alumni, everything."
Ultimately, they selected CMU's Tepper School of Business based on its strength in production planning and industrial management – skills Dempo would one day rely on to manage the Dempo Group of Companies. Today, Dempo is chairman of the group, which includes everything from shipbuilding plants to newspaper publishers, and tourist resorts to soccer clubs.
One of Dempo's first experiences at CMU was a management simulation. He and a team of classmates took command of a simulated soap company faced with falling market shares.
At first, the team struggled. But with guidance from their professor, they learned how to think critically in order to solve business problems.
"Instead of being hyperactive, our professor showed us how to be thoughtful. So rather than just trying anything, we ran through scenarios, began quantifying different approaches before we took them," Dempo explained.
It was a classroom lesson Dempo would apply to a real life scenario sooner than he ever imagined.
After graduation, Dempo returned home where his father and grandfather turned over the reins of a failing company within their portfolio. Employing the skills he learned at CMU, Dempo turned the company around within a few weeks.
Dempo credits both his family and his CMU education for his success. That's one reason why he decided to give back to his alma mater in his late grandfather's name.
The Vasantrao Dempo Reflective Chair – a $3 million gift – is a professorship unlike any other at CMU. The chair will be held simultaneously by a professor at Tepper, as well as a professor at an Indian university. The holders of the chair will be involved in research and teaching that is relevant to the challenges and opportunities of the Indian economy.
With the chair, Dempo hopes that all of India might be able to learn from Tepper, as he did.
"The professorship continues my relationship with my alma mater in a way that is to me both meaningful and fulfilling, enables a worthy homage to the memory of my much-loved grandfather, and helps create the framework of distinguished collaborative American scholarship in India," said Dempo.
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