"My education at Booth taught me to think, evaluate and learn from every experience that my career has thrown at me." Lotika Pai (Evening '08) is the Founder and CEO of Q-it (a technology solution which helps parents turn their child's video viewing time into an educational experience). The start-up, which launched on Feb 5th 2014, already has parents from countries like Australia, Cambodia, Thailand, Turkey, India, UK, US, China, Netherlands, Japan and Switzerland signing up. Last year, Lotika was appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to the City's Technology Diversity Council charged with the mission to help craft policy initiatives that will enable Chicago to realize its vision of becoming a city where technology fuels opportunity, inclusion, engagement, and innovation. Lotika grew up in India and prior to attending Booth worked as a Supply Chain Management Consultant helping global manufacturing companies optimize their operations. With deep experience in operations management and technology, she was looking for the rigor of a strong finance and accounting program which led her to Booth. We recently had the opportunity to talk with Lotika about her Booth experience.
How has Booth helped shape you & the path that you're currently on?
I went to Booth to dive deep into the intricacies of finance and accounting. And I did. I graduated, became an Investment Banker and put what I had learned to practical use. Now, fast forward four years I have a young child and I am realizing that my priorities have changed. I still want to do great things, but I want to do them on my terms. So with the intention of starting something on my own, I spent the next year exploring and working with multiple startups while I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. And it was not like I could go back to school, redo my MBA, and maybe this time around take Entrepreneurship classes like Building the New Venture with Professor Waverly Deutsch, or NewVenture Strategy with Professor James Schrager. Many opportunities presented themselves and I had always had my Booth thinking hat on to evaluate each idea analytically whether the opportunity made sense and if I was the right person for it. Eventually I founded Q-it , and you can read more about WHY I created Q-it at http://bit.ly/1byJ0re In six months, I went from an idea in my head to building a product which helps parents of young children bridge the gap between entertainment and education. During this entire time my Booth network was active in guiding, advising and supporting me. I met other Booth entrepreneurs and learned from their successes and failures; I worked with current students through the Booth Business Solutions Group validating our business plan; I was introduced to 1871, a technology incubator, through Booth connections; I had friends who went down the route of Venture Capital give me great advice over many coffees and lunches. Not all of these people were my classmates, but are part of my broader Booth community. And as my new venture unfolds I am very thankful for all the insights, nudges, help, honesty and support I have received from them. And I have come to realize that my education and time at Booth has taught me how to ask difficult questions, build frameworks to understand the answers, and create impact by executing on insights. That will always stay with me. What you learn at Booth prepares you for Life and not just your Career.
Any insights you would like to share with prospective applicants to Booth?
I learned two very important lessons after graduating from Booth. Before diving into them, I want to give you some context. It was the summer of 2008 and I had just graduated. I had my choice of dream jobs to pick from and I happened to pick Lehman Brothers, and I was on top of the world. During the six weeks of intensive training in New York, as you can well imagine, we were all glued to Bloomberg terminals watching the stock nose dive to single digits. My first day of work as an Investment Banker was Monday Sept 15th 2008, the day after that very long Sunday evening, about which I am sure you have seen either movies or documentaries about. Lehman Brothers had just announced bankruptcy. That morning, I walked into the office and my assistant came up to me, handed me a box and said, Honey really nice to meet you, but you need to pack up your stuff. I remember just standing there in the middle of the room with a cardboard box in my hand thinking to myself Stuff! I don't have stuff, I just got here. I can still picture myself sitting there engulfed in this big black chair overwhelmed by something I had no control over. And then about an hour later my phone started ringing and my inbox started filling up. My Booth network reached out to ME. Friends I had gone to school asking if I wanted to submit my resume to the company they were working at. A couple of Professors I had developed great relationships with reached out asking how they could help. Career services reached out, asking for my resume they were going to pull together a resume book and circulate that around.
When I needed it most, Booth rallied for me.
At a moment in my career, when I was questioning choices I had made and opportunities I had passed up, the support I received gave me great comfort and I realized that no matter how difficult the situation seemed at the moment it would pass, and it did; and that I would get through it, and I did. Later that week Barclays bought the Lehman Brothers Investment Bank and everything eventually worked out fine. And today, I am an entrepreneur building a product which encompasses my two enduring passions of technology and education.
So that brings me to two lessons learned, that I would like all prospective applicants think about:
1. Your education at Booth will teach you to think, evaluate and learn from every experience that your career
is going to throw at you. Whether it is positive, negative, in your control or not
2. Your network is a resource you can use throughout your career and it is not restricted to people you go to
school with. It is not just people in your field or where you are today. For many of you there will be many
transitions as your progress in your respective careers and you can leverage your Booth way of thinking
and the broader Booth community to support you through those transitions.
What were your relationships like with professors/students?
They were and continue to remain wonderful. I consider myself fortunate to have learned from some of the best minds in the world. I learned International Finance from Professor Raghuram Rajan, I was introduced to Entrepreneurial Finance and Private Equity by Professor Luigi Zingales, I dug deep into the intricacies of M&A Accounting with Professor Haresh Sapra, I developed a fascination for Microeconomics thanks to Professor Dennis Carlton, I understood the dynamics of Competitive Strategy listening to Professor Marianne Bertrand, I appreciated the complexity of Taxes alongside Business Strategy with Professor Merle Erickson, and I learned how to become an effective Negotiator (in business and with my son) thanks my favorite class at Booth with Professor Linda Ginzel.
I have built strong friendships with people I met at Booth. After graduation, along with eight friends, we created a very informal women's group and scheduled one organized dinner every month. We have been meeting every month for well over 5 years now and are each others sounding boards and support shoulders. We have been through a lot together over the years engagements, weddings, children, career changes, big decisions and I really value these relationships. It doesn't matter that we have all gone down different career paths like Healthcare, Venture Capital, Economics, Finance, Entrepreneurship or Marketing we look out for each other.
One of the gifts Booth gives all its students is the introduction to amazing, smart people from all over the world. As a student you get the opportunity to work with them, collaborate with them, learn from them, and build strong relationships with them. It is a gift that keeps giving.
To learn more about Lotika visit:https://www.q-it.com/team
To learn more about Q-it visit: https://www.q-it.com/
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