February 22, 2021
Alumni Spotlight: Angela and Sunil Patel on Wedding Their Backgrounds
When alumni Angela Patel (MBA 1998) and Sunil Patel (MBA 1998) came to the Tepper School of Business, they had recently married and were looking for a way to wed their common backgrounds in science to the world of business. They saw the Tepper School as the perfect place to develop their skills to lead with confidence within an atmosphere of collaboration across disciplines.
As Angela Patel, who has long been involved in MBA recruiting at her company put it, “I’m impressed with the continued level of talent that the Tepper School has been able to attract and am proud to be part of the Tepper community.”
The Patels met in pharmacy school at Purdue University. Already study partners and newly married when they arrived at the Tepper School, they intentionally grew their peer group globally and across disciplines.
“We expanded our friend group beginning with the quantitative prep program held two weeks prior to the official start of classes, during which we made friends with classmates from around the world that we still keep in touch with today.”
The Patels shared that while it was helpful to have each other as a study partner, they also completed many projects separately. “In our second year, we were each president of our Management Game teams.”
Angela, Sunil, and their daughters, Erika and Alaina.
Angela, Sunil, Raghav Daga (MBA 1998), and Raghav's wife Kavita, during a visit to Jaipur, India.
Angela with Tarun Viswanathan (MBA 1998), Zahiye Yuksel (MBA 1998), and their son Demir, during a visit to London.
Summer internships meant that the couple were 2,000 miles apart – Angela Patel in Michigan at Dow Chemical and Sunil Patel in San Francisco at a small biotech company. But, when it came time to make their first career leap, together they found Merck, one of the world’s largest research-intensive biopharmaceutical companies.
“The opportunity at Merck enabled us to be together and to work at a company that leveraged our pharmaceutical and scientific backgrounds,” they agreed. Angela Patel joined the company in a finance role, while Sunil Patel started out on the commercial side of the business.
The Patels have been with Merck for over 20 years. Today, Angela Patel is Executive Director, Global BioSterile Operations Finance, and Sunil Patel is Senior Vice President and Head of Corporate Development.
“A key commonality throughout my career was being in roles where I could leverage my analytical background to bring objective analyses forward to support resource allocation and strategic business decisions across Merck’s product portfolio,” Angela Patel said.
Sunil Patel works directly with the C-suite and executive committee to lead negotiations for major collaborations and M&A. He also is heavily involved in strategic planning at the corporate level.
“It is a role that allows me to have a front-row seat to all of the emerging science and business issues that impact our industry,” he said. “I feel I am making a real contribution to the company and the patients we serve.”
Reflection and Sagacious Advice for the Future
When reflecting on their time at the Tepper School, the Patels noted their MBA journey was critical to make the transition from pharmacy backgrounds to a business setting.
“There are so many foundational attributes of the Tepper School program that we carry with us today, but if we were to describe the most critical, it would be the ability to assess a situation to draw conclusions and have that supported with facts; the importance of effectively communicating a position and gearing it to the correct altitude based on the audience; and the ability to learn how to work as part of a team to achieve goals.”
The Patels also noted how, “So many aspiring leaders struggle with moving from an individual contributor to being able to achieve goals as part of a team. Have the self-confidence to allow others to critically evaluate work in order to produce the best product.”
A final piece of advice for future business leaders: “Remember the mission of your company and have it guide you for long-term decisions. You should always understand the macro themes that impact your business and be willing to adapt as needed.”