Peer Talk Profile: Naresh Koka
Naresh Koka is vice president for strategic alliances at SPR Consulting.
Booth: How did you choose Chicago Booth for Executive Education?
Koka: I decided on Booth’s Advanced Management Program primarily because of its flexibility.
The program offers courses on a wide variety of topics, so you can tailor your studies based on the direction you want to take your career. I also appreciated the flexibility in the way the program is presented.
Instead of cramming everything into six or eight weeks of continuous education, you spend one week on campus at a time, and then go back to work and apply what you’ve learned. That approach makes it easier to maintain a balance between work and education.
Booth: How was the New Product Development elective applicable to your work at SPR Consulting?
Koka: My role at SPR is in strategic alliances, so I’m always looking for ways to work with partners to create joint products or service products that differentiate us from competitors. With its focus on strategic customer analysis and promotion strategies, the New Product Development elective aligned perfectly with what I wanted to do.
Booth: What are some key concepts you learned in New Product Development that you think will be most useful throughout your career?
Koka: The concept of strategic customer analysis was very useful—bringing in the voice of your customers to guide product development, rather than creating a product based on your team’s skillset and then taking it to market. I’m planning to use what I learned about conjoint analysis to help make sure our product development aligns with the attributes that are most attractive to our customers. I also plan to apply the concepts I learned in promotion strategies to the way we take our services to market.
Booth: What surprised you most about the New Product Development elective?
Koka: The breadth of topics came as a surprise to me—the course covered not just product development, but also marketing, customer strategy, and other areas. It also surprised me to meet classmates from a diverse range of industries and regions, including Australia and the Middle East.
Booth: What did you learn from the other participants in the class?
Koka: The course brought together an interesting mix of early-career professionals and high-level executives with a lot of experience. It was valuable to hear the higher-level executives chime in on the concepts we were learning—which concepts had worked for them and which hadn’t—and it was equally valuable to hear the professor respond to those insights based on current market conditions.
I also enjoyed the program’s evening social activities. Being able to meet classmates outside of the class structure and have casual conversations about life and careers gave me additional insights and new connections.
Booth: Why should other professionals consider taking an Executive Education course at Booth?
Koka: Chicago Booth is one of the top schools for executive management education. The faculty are nationally acclaimed scholars and Nobel laureates who bring real-world expertise to the classroom. And the program provides a lot of flexibility for executives who are looking to get to the next level.