An alumnus discusses his family's recent gift to establish the Chirapurath Family Scholarship Fund at Chicago Booth.
- November 20, 2023
- Booth Donors
JG Chirapurath, '01, is not one to talk about his own successes.
Even with his wide-ranging career in the technology field, which includes founding a startup and serving in executive roles at Microsoft and SAP, Chirapurath is much keener to discuss the help he received along the way.
“I challenge anyone to look back through their career and not find multiple times when they stood on the shoulders of others,” Chirapurath says. “Everyone deserves a leg up.”
Chirapurath and his wife, Jessica, are providing a “leg up” for future Chicago Booth students by establishing the Chirapurath Family Scholarship Fund, created through their gift to the school earlier this year. The gift received a one-to-one Boundless Scholarship match and, as an endowed fund, will provide scholarships for talented Booth students for years to come.
"I challenge anyone to look back through their career and not find multiple times when they stood on the shoulders of others. Everyone deserves a leg up."
Chirapurath says that he chose to establish a scholarship over other giving options because he wanted to give current students the same opportunities he had received during his time at Booth.
"Jessica and I look at this as an opportunity to support people who are on that same journey. You have to start by helping students," he says.
Growing up in India, in a family whose industry had historically been farming, Chirapurath learned the importance of education from his parents and grandparents. Chirapurath’s grandfather was a vicar and the principal of a seminary. Chirapurath’s father was one of the first people of his generation to earn an MBA in India, and he went on to become an international business executive. His father-in-law was a professor at Rutgers University and a renowned oceanographer and explorer. His mother was an entrepreneur and his mother-in-law was a marine engineer, who both broke the mold of cultural expectations and norms.
Chirapurath followed his family’s example when he came to United States to pursue graduate school, and he and his wife speak of family as their inspiration in their own careers.
“I looked at America as a place where dreams could come true, provided you applied yourself to the passions that motivated you and always pursued purity of knowledge,” Chirapurath says.
Chirapurath’s pursuit of knowledge led to a master’s degree in computer science at the University of Maryland and eventually took him to Chicago Booth, where he graduated with his MBA in 2001. Chirapurath says Booth was a perfect fit for his “engineer’s mind.”
"I looked at America as a place where dreams could come true, provided you applied yourself to the passions that motivated you and always pursued purity of knowledge."
“An engineer’s mind works in frameworks, and it works with boxes. Look for the right framework and right box. Booth was the perfect place for someone like me, with its focus on challenging the limits of knowledge. I got so much out of the program, and I made lifelong friends,” Chirapurath says.
While earning his MBA, Chirapurath started a company called Sarvega with an industry executive and a fellow Booth student. They won the Edward L. Kaplan, ’71, New Venture Challenge with their idea and grew the company for several years before selling it to Intel in 2005. Chirapurath credits his Booth professors—especially Ellen Rudnick, senior advisor at the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Booth, and Steve Kaplan, the Neubauer Family Distinguished Service Professor of Entrepreneurship and Finance and Kessenich E.P. Faculty Director at the Polsky Center—for helping him develop the business idea during its early days.
Rather than following a linear career path after selling Sarvega, Chirapurath pursued his interests. He learned as much as he could about scale, which he describes as, “the process of making small things as big as possible.” This led to several leadership positions at Microsoft, executive roles at ProQuest and Hewlett Packard, and his current position as chief marketing and solutions officer at SAP, a position he says he is “privileged” to have.
“At SAP, we work on turning cutting-edge technologies like AI into impactful products, because ultimately, what customers care about are outcomes. . . . I am absolutely honored and motivated by the duty of care to help my customers on their journeys,” Chirapurath says.
Having attained his own professional success, Chirapurath is now more focused on giving back. With the Chirapurath Family Scholarship Fund, he hopes to foster a “virtuous cycle” of supporting young people who are in the same position he once was. He encourages his fellow Booth alumni to give back also.
“What I would say is do it. Just do it,” Chirapurath says. “I want other alumni to transport themselves back to the time when they were entering Booth. . . . I think we have a duty to help this community, which we have taken so much from. It’s time for us to complete the loop.”
Chirapurath hopes that the recipients of the Chirapurath Family Scholarship will be free to pursue their own interests with fewer financial obstacles so that one day they can give back as well.
"I look forward to hearing about their careers,” Chirapurath says. “And I hope that at some point in their career, they can pay it forward and continue the virtuous cycle in their own way."
Prior to this gift, Kilts committed more than $12.5 million to advance the study of marketing at the school.James M. Kilts, ’74, Makes $10 Million Gift to Booth