Carnegie Mellon University

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August 05, 2019

Rana Sen: 2019 Alumni Award Spotlight

Solving public sector problems with a connected, interdisciplinary approach

By Elizabeth Speed

Digital transformation, mobility and increasing congestion problems, governance & finance, environmental sustainability, inclusive environments, safety and security, and continued impact of innovations are the key areas of focus of the leaders of local government agencies. Sorting out this complicated puzzle is the challenge that Rana Sen (A 1999) tackles as a managing director with Deloitte US, in his roles as the lead for US state/local transportation practice and the smart city initiative.

To provide exceptional service to his clients, Rana leads efforts to recruit and retain talent for Deloitte, and he knew where to look for promising recent grads.  “I chose Carnegie Mellon, given that's my alma mater and also where we always find the best talent. I am obviously passionate about the Architecture school and giving back,” he says.

But his search also includes students from CMU’s Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy, which houses related programs that offer valuable relevant expertise. “Students coming out have the capability and potential to be successful in the firm. I reached out to many of the same faculty in Heinz College who taught me.”

Connecting the varied elements for serving government clients is a skill set that comes from his cross-functional training as an architect, and CMU’s interdisciplinary culture.

“My program leveraged architectural principles but also combined that with computer science, public policy and information systems courses. We looked at the built environment and how technology can enable it,” he says. “One of the roles that we play is that of a convener. We need to understand many of the other disciplines at some level of depth in order to bring them together through human-centered design.”

As he thinks about building future talent, Rana is committed to exposing students to tackling real world challenges to create a richer learning environment. Rana and his colleagues sponsor capstone projects for Heinz School students, who work for a semester on a problem, suggest outcomes, and produce deliverables. 

“Capstones help students to gain skill sets around analysis, messaging, creating impact statements, and presenting,” he says. “It gives them a taste of what the consulting profession is like.”

Rana was also instrumental in securing funding from the Deloitte Foundation for three fellowships for Heinz and Architecture graduate students, working closely with faculty advisors.

“This is an ongoing collaboration with the faculty of Heinz College and Architecture,” he says. “I think that needs to be celebrated because it’s really helping the student grow and mature, and the way the faculty make it happen at CMU is simply extraordinary.”

He explains: “Carnegie Mellon’s contribution has been key to my professional success and my personal growth. It is an honor and privilege to be able to continue a meaningful relationship with CMU, and I am very thankful for this opportunity.”

Rana Sen received a 2019 Alumni Service Award on May 17 for his meritorious service to Carnegie Mellon. Read more about CMU’s 2019 Alumni Awards and honorees.