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ASU student passionate about advancing gender equality in the business world

New student Priyanka Mathur is ready to tackle gender inequality in business.
August 18, 2017

Drawing inspiration from her mother, Priyanka Mathur sees women as having no limitations

Editor's note: This is part of a series of profiles of fall 2017 incoming ASU students.

Priyanka Mathur has already accomplished a lot, working as a high-level marketing professional at a major corporation and winning a spot in a highly competitive MBA program at Arizona State University, yet one of her biggest inspirations remains her mother.

“I was working with Siemens, responsible for all India marketing and strategy for industry services and I was really fortunate to find this great responsibility at a very young stage in my career,” said Mathur, who is in the full-time Forward Focus MBA program in the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU.

She appreciates the school’s attention to increasing the number of women in business — a trend she’s passionate about.

“My earliest source of inspiration was my mother. She was the first woman police officer in Rajasthan,” the largest state in India.

“India is a very conservative country and Rajasthan is one of the most conservative states, so back in the 1970s it was really difficult for women to find challenging careers and to challenge the system. And my mom was one of them,” she said.

“So I feel there are no limitations to women’s capabilities and they’re equally strong as men.”

Although women are graduating from college in numbers equal to men, Mathur notes that women are drastically underrepresented among CEOs at the largest companies.

“As of 2017, there are 32 female CEOs on the list of Fortune 500, meaning that only 6.4 percent of the U.S.'s biggest companies are run by women and this is the highest proportion of female CEOs in the 63-year history of the Fortune 500,” she said.

“Post MBA, I want to be a successful business leader and a trusted adviser to aspiring women. Gender equality is the vision of my generation and I want to be at the epicenter of the movement.”

Meet Priyanka Mathur:

Question: Why did you want to pursue a Forward Focus MBA at ASU?

Answer: I am keen on exploring and harnessing the potential of data analytics in marketing and operations. W. P. Carey’s highly ranked Forward Focus MBA Program will not only provide me deeper insights on expanding my knowledge base on data analytics to solve complex business problems, but also help me hone my leadership skills to effectively collaborate and lead across various cross functions at a global level.

Q: What are you most excited to experience your first semester?

A: The firsthand experience of interacting with people coming from 24 nations and understanding different cultural nuances that come to play both in business and in real life.

Q: What do you like to brag about to friends about ASU?

A: We have all the numbers to brag about. We are U.S. No. 1 school in innovation, No. 3 in supply chain, No. 25 in global MBA program; the list goes on. But what I would like to brag about is the feel of being a part of this small close-knit community where everybody wants to help each other. This makes ASU an ideal environment conducive towards learning for growth and development.

Q: What talents and skills are you bringing to the ASU community?

A: My professional network finds me as a creative problem solver and an articulate communicator. My solid background in marketing and project management will enable me to contribute in various team-based projects, case-studies and classroom discussions, especially in courses such as service innovation and business-to-business marketing.

Q: What’s your favorite TV show right now?

A: “Game of Thrones.”

Q: What do you hope to accomplish during your MBA study?

A: I seek to understand business from a global perspective, gain cross-cultural experience and acquire a growth mind-set to advance my career towards being a global business professional in my niche.

Q: What’s one interesting fact about yourself that only your friends know?

A: I’ve been writing in my daily diary since I was 15.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem in our world, what would you choose?

A: Back in the 1970s, a woman police officer was unheard of across the country. Ms. Pramila Mathur rose up to the challenge and fought her way through the system to make it happen. I have been fortunate to watch this amazing woman every day of my life because I am her daughter. Since childhood, I have firmly believed that gender is no ceiling to capabilities and aspirations.

Currently, the representation of women in business is far from ideal. MBA is one of the primary pipelines for supply of future leaders. And clearly there is a dearth of women leaders in the business world. I believe a financial stimulus could accelerate things. Taking inspiration from ASU’s Forward Focus program, I will like to start a fund. Potential women candidates who have the ability but lack means need to be identified across the world and must be trained extensively to become our future business leaders. With $40 million, I can make a start toward bringing a shift in the current scheme of things.

Top photo: Priyanka Mathur is in the Forward Focus MBA program in the W. P. Carey School of Business. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News


ASU students, faculty gain insights, create impact in Nepal, Ecuador

August 18, 2017

Study abroad programs give participants — faculty and students alike — an opportunity to learn alongside others in order to understand cultures different from our own, gain valuable insights, challenge our assumptions and contribute to the betterment of the communities we visit.

Students and faculty from Arizona State University's School for the Future of Innovation in Society traveled to Nepal and Ecuador this summer to engage culturally with host communities, broaden their worldviews, and roll up their sleeves to make a lasting impact. Each program had specific learning goals and a final project tailored to the experiences of each student. Students in Tena, Ecuador. Students explore in Tena, located in the Amazon region of Ecuador. Download Full Image

With crucial support provided by the Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiatives and ASU’s School of Sustainability, participants learned first-hand about social justice, capacity building, entrepreneurship, and community empowerment.

Students from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering — including The Polytechnic School, the School of Sustainability, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and Global Resolve participated in these cross-disciplinary projects with SFIS.


Nalini Chhetri, clinical associate professor and assistant director at School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and Netra Chhetri, associate professor at the school and senior sustainability scientist at the School of Sustainability, led two groups of students from multiple disciplines, colleges and schools to various regions in Nepal.  

Both groups included master’s students from Tribhuvan University, the largest university in Nepal, which turned out to be one of the best aspects of the collaborative peer learning experience, according to the ASU students.

With Chhetri’s guidance, students learned first-hand about global best practices in sustainable development. The group visited with people from indigenous communities who are successfully earning livelihoods while protecting the buffer zone areas of the national parks in the region — the home of Bengal tigers and one-horned rhinos — by instituting their own societal governance systems.

Chhetri and her students met with successful farmers, both men and women, who practice organic but profitable farming such as vegetable growing, bee keeping, and an organic coffee plantation. Her group also installed a photography exhibit at Tribhuvan University.

The homestays, site visits and expert seminars in Nepal brought participants face to face with new ways of thinking, feeling and living, Chhetri said.

“The experience of learning about new cultures and confronting new contexts, especially in developing countries, is invaluable for our students,” she said.

Netra Chhetri’s group outfitted community members in Nepal’s Nawalparasi district with several locally engineered pyrolysers, which are large kilns used to reduce organic matter — in this case, an invasive plant species — to biochar, a usable fuel, fertilizer and filtration resource that can be sold for profit.

The group also installed a solar-powered irrigation system that pumps water from a depth of 157 feet, providing local farmers with access to reliable water year-round, including the ability to grow out-of-season crops that sell at a higher price point. 

“This was truly project-based,” Chhetri said. “The students worked with community members and experts from a local company that distributed the biochar, and then implemented the project design themselves, collecting research data in the process.”

Students even brought samples of the biochar home to continue to analyze it.

“Now, we’re trying to help the company scale this and improve the quality,” Chhetri said. He hopes the process will result in activated charcoal, which could filter water and be sold in retail stores, providing a major boost to the community’s economic security.

“This has been the most satisfying project I have done since coming to ASU,” he said.


In Ecuador, Mary Jane Parmentier, clinical associate professor and chair of the Global Technology and Development program, and Carlo Altamirano, a doctoral candidate in the Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology program, introduced the group to several varieties of social entrepreneurships, including the solidarity economy model.  The trip acquainted students with multiple economic empowerment strategies in an environment where local traditions and culture compete with the challenges brought on by globalization.

Parmentier’s students stayed with families in the city of Cuenca for five nights. Students also visited the town of Tena in the Amazon region. They stayed in lodges in Tena with no electricity, which included the occasional encounter with “big black tarantulas,” the students reported. They learned about the Andean knowledge system, visited the Isla de la Plata, and even met Balthasar Ushka, the last Iceman of the Chimborazo.

Parmentier’s groups led seminars on social entrepreneurship using the bilingual Dreambuilder programs, developed at Thunderbird School of Global Management, at a women’s vocational training program in Quito — Ecuador’s capital, and to business students at the Technical University of Ambato.

Students also visited two Ecuadorean universities, the Catholic Pontifical University of Quito and Yachay Technical University, to learn about the government’s initiative to foster science and technology research and teaching for national development.

They also spent three days working with the Intensive Ambulatory Therapy program at the Health Center of Cuenca to build a healing garden at an outpatient medical center for adults recovering from addiction.

While students from all three groups were assigned research papers, some of the students in the Nepal group expressed what they had learned through less traditional formats, such as photo essays and poetry. Parmentier noted that many of the research questions her students developed before the trip to Ecuador changed just prior to turning in their final assignments.

“Some of the students realized their initial questions were naïve,” Parmentier said. “This kind of experience succeeds when it overturns assumptions. That’s hard to get across when you don’t get out of your comfort zone.”

The great advantage of study abroad programs is the opportunity to engage culturally with people and places students have not encountered before. Yet, study abroad is really a “learning community abroad,” Parmentier said.  And it’s not just for students.

“It’s made up of students and faculty, and we’re all curious, we’re all learning,” she said. “We all benefit from each other’s questions.”

Denise Kronsteiner

Director of Strategic Communications, School for the Future of Innovation in Society