Shravya was born in India and grew up in Abu Dhabi, UAE. In pursuit of her Bachelor’s in Business Administration, she came to University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Shravya then went on to get her MBA/MPH from UCLA. She currently works as the Chief of Staff at Virta Health.
What did your path look like to land your current role?
Like many other business school students, I was drawn to consulting and spent 5 years in Deloitte Consulting’s Strategy and Operations practice, specifically focused on healthcare both pre and post grad graduate school. My consulting years were really formative and helped build the fundamental skill sets that I now carry with me to each role I take.
Ultimately, after moving to San Francisco with Deloitte, I caught the tech bug and decided to make the switch to Box first as their Chief of Staff for Industries and later as the founding member of its Solutions Marketing team. After 5 years at Box, I wanted to get back to my roots in healthcare, specifically at a fast growing startup that was making a meaningful difference to patients, which is what led me to my current role at Virta as their Chief of Staff.
What was the biggest challenge you faced as an international student?
My visa status was the #1 determinant and often times roadblock in my career journey. When interviewing for jobs post undergrad/grad school, the options were limited for international students and only a fraction of the companies were willing to process visas. The same was true when I was looking for positions after Deloitte. I would interview and make it to the 2nd or 3rd round at startups only to learn the company couldn’t accept non residents. I was also under enormous pressure when looking for positions outside Deloitte since my H1B visa was running out and not only did I need to find a company that was willing to process an H1 but one that was willing to start my green card paperwork immediately upon joining.
In fact, soon after I got my offer letter at Box, the HR team retracted it citing that we didn’t have enough time to process the green card paperwork. I had to hire an independent attorney to help me navigate this and after sending Box a 20 point explanation on how to manage my case, the offer was reissued. While at Box, I also navigated many visa and green card hurdles when switching positions, all of which were extremely complex and stressful to navigate.
What were your most valuable resources that helped you get where you are today?
- I would say the three most helpful things for me were:
- My network of international friends and allies I could tap for help.
- My network of friends in HR that helped me to figure out what my options were.
- Realizing that it is worth it to just hire a lawyer or pay a consultation fee for a few hours so you are empowered with the right information.
What advice would you give to international students today?
Especially in today’s world, it’s worth really asking yourself where you see yourself and what types of jobs/roles you’re looking for in the next 3-5 years. It’s worth understanding how easy or difficult it is to break into a certain industry or role in certain countries & also how strict/relaxed their visa policies are. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to make my way through the complex visa web in the US but that hasn’t been the case for a lot of friends and family.