“EMTM’s bridge between technology and business has allowed me to take on all of these challenges. The return on the investment has been incredible; I’m certain that EMTM has been integral to my career growth.”
Relina Bulchandani, EMTM’04
Global Lead, Connected Real Estate
Cisco Systems Strategy Practice: IBSG
New York, NY
Relina Bulchandani, EMTM’04
For Relina, EMTM was a laboratory for defining and clarifying career objectives. Relina got her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, with a double major of economics and political science. Shortly after graduating, she took a position at Ernst & Young in the technology practice, working with large U.S.-based companies in the area of real estate. Within four years, she was a senior manager in the company and her career was progressing. Still, she was looking for more focus and validation and a way to supplement her liberal arts education. “Many of my colleagues came from the tech side. I was finding that managing people and presenting at global conferences was coming easily to me, but in order to move forward I needed a more rigorous technology education.”
When she decided that a graduate degree was her next endeavor, Relina eschewed traditional MBA programs and instead looked at executive programs at large universities in New York. Yet these programs offered only half of what she was looking for. “I could take more accounting and finance classes at these programs, but they offered little in the way of the technology background. I knew then that I was really looking for a combination degree with a holistic approach.” She visited Penn’s EMTM and found that the program’s curriculum met her needs, and she was impressed by the professors she encountered. It was a short commute from her home in New York City, and her company agreed to sponsor her.
At EMTM, Relina was fascinated by the leadership classes, which directed her to identify her personal style. “Working on teams in the other classes also helps you further refine your own brand of leadership, and that gave me a lot of confidence at work.” Even though she doesn’t work in software development, she was surprised to find that a class in the subject helped her to approach problem solving in a new way.
The program’s hybrid worldview was especially applicable to Relina’s work in real estate. “Real estate is traditionally a little behind from a technology standpoint. I think after this program you end up with a strategic advantage because you can see farther into the future you understand how to better think through investment decisions in terms of efficiency and sustainability, and you understand how technology plays a role in building investments and assets.”
Though she came into the program open to a career change, EMTM cemented Relina’s desire to stay in real estate. “I realized that this is something I’m good at. The program really helped me find my sweet spot.”
After she completed her EMTM degree, Relina was offered a new job at Forest City Enterprises. “It allowed me to jump up a couple of levels in title and salary, and I was leading strategic real estate projects, sitting between the CIO and COO. I think the degree really helped me get this opportunity it’s not just the confidence, it’s the interesting ideas you can bring to the table.” At Forest City, Relina helped implement SAP, making them the first real estate company to do so.
Four years later, Relina joined Cisco, where she now serves in a global lead role in connected real estate within the Internet business solutions group. “I’m looking at how technology and real estate are enabling cities to move into the future and I’m challenged to stay 12-24 months ahead of the industry in terms of the next new big business models. EMTM’s bridge between technology and business has allowed me to take on all of these challenges. The return on the investment has been incredible; I’m certain that EMTM has been integral to my career growth.”