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Executive Director of Career Services Pulin Sanghvi: A background in finance and consulting, a goal to help students branch out

Pulin Sanghvi, the newly appointed executive director of Career Services, comes to the University with a strong background in finance and consulting, including companies as large as Morgan Stanley and McKinsey & Company.

Acknowledging that recruitment for these industries is already quite strong on campus, Sanghvi said his main priority is to broaden student opportunities for career exploration.

However, Sanghvi said he is not concerned that his background will hinder his abilities to expand career exploration services at the University, citing that he had expanded offerings as the head of the Career Management Center at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

His arrival comes at a time when the office is undergoing several reforms. Sanghvi’s newly created position puts him above Career Services’ director, Beverly Hamilton-Chandler, whose office was formerly the highest in the agency. Sanghvi took office on Dec. 1.

In addition, Sanghvi’s appointment comes after then-University President Shirley Tilghman called for extensive changes to the Career Services program, which she called a “work in progress” last spring.

“We’re not doing nearly as good a job in helping you, not just get a job, but how to think about what it is you want to do after graduation. So I would say that’s on my conscience, that I haven’t done a better job in fixing that,” Tilghman said of her regrets for the program in May.

University officials have stated that Hamilton-Chandler will stay on in her current role. Hamilton-Chandler deferred comment to Career Services communications staff, who declined to be interviewed.

Sanghvi’s agenda: “Spend time one-on-one with students”

Sanghvi’s agenda emphasizes greater outreach to communicate with students about their interests and needs for career guidance.

“The big change happening in career management now — that I am passionate about — is shifting the focus away from getting a student a job as the absolute number-one goal of a career services organization,” Sanghvi said.

Instead, he said he wants to see college career offices help find the “right path” after college for each student.

When asked whether his background in finance and consulting would put blinders on the career exploration options he can bring to University students, Sanghvi said it would not.

He cited his experience at the Career Management Center at Stanford Graduate School of Business and with the Positive Coaching Alliance, a character-building organization for young athletes, as proof of his ability to work with students to find their passion and explore a vast range of interests.

“One of the key parts of career exploration is broadening the perspectives available,” Sanghvi said. “A school like Princeton has forged so many different paths in many ways for students.”

Sanghvi pointed to the University’s alumni network as a key way to offer students “a living library of case studies” of people who took diverse paths after college. He plans to develop an advisory council of leaders in employment sectors other than finance and consulting who will speak to students about career options, as well as a partners group to facilitate communication between students and faculty on the career search process.

Sanghvi’s priorities include expanding online resources for career exploration and highlighting international career opportunities. He plans to create new internships and community service projects to diversify on- and off-campus learning opportunities.

“I am deeply passionate about the student experience,” he said. “I am fully expecting to spend time one-on-one with students.”

Sanghvi said that he will host “Career and Life Vision” workshops to engage students in their real interests and help them explore diverse directions to pursue after college. He added that he has reached out to the USG and Graduate Student Government to understand students’ needs and learn where the deficiencies in career management currently are.

USG president Shawon Jackson ’15 was one of a small group of students selected to participate in the interview process to fill the position of executive director of Career Services last spring. He said he looks forward to working with Sanghvi over the next year as Career Services seeks to partner with student government as a method of broadening its outreach.

“I think there is a lot of information about finance and consulting because typically those firms have the resources to do outreach for schools like Princeton,” Jackson said. “One of the reasons a lot of people are very excited about the new executive director is because, with that understanding, they can do more targeted outreach to alumni in other fields.”

Sanghvi at Yale: “I could study anything of interest to me”

The youngest of three brothers born to first-generation Indian immigrants, Sanghvi spent his childhood in the Chicago area. He attended public schools and was actively involved in community service initiatives as well as one-on-one Lincoln-Douglas debate while at New Trier Township High School in Winnetka, Ill. In his senior year, he was accepted to Yale early action.

Growing up, Sanghvi found the idea of job security and the ability to progress and build a career within one company to be overwhelmingly important, as this stability had allowed his parents to relocate in the United States. His father was a chemical engineer.

“Some of the things that drew me to Yale are some of the same things that are now drawing me to Princeton,” he said. “It very much struck me as a very much student-focused university, one which had a strong sense of community.”

“I was very drawn to the idea of intellectual exploration. I could study anything of interest to me,” he said of his undergraduate education at Yale. His decision to major in economics was motivated by an understanding that the discipline was tied to key policy issues, Sanghvi explained. He was interested in issues like overpopulation and development in India, which could be understood through the lens of economics.

At Yale, Sanghvi was Editor-in-Chief of The Yale Daily News Course Critique, a publication of student-written course reviews. Working for the Course Critique was his first experience working for a publication and understanding the integration of the publication, advertising and editorial aspects.

He also partnered with two classmates to teach an after-school program at a New Haven elementary school, where they taught structured math and reading lessons.

“For me, being part of the New Haven community was an absolutely fulfilling and a fascinating experience,” he said.

The Post-grad years: banking to consulting to business school

“As I was graduating from college, I looked at the opportunities in front of me and two of the paths that were very visible on campus were consulting and investment banking,” he said. “My oldest brother had been in consulting for almost six or seven years at that point, and I felt like understood the consulting world. It seemed very natural to me. It felt very aligned with some of the things I knew about myself.”

Sanghvi explained that he chose to work for Morgan Stanley after graduation to explore a field where he felt less comfortable.

“I felt like there was a lot of potential trying out the less comfortable part of myself during the period after college,” he said. Sanghvi described his post-graduate self as a “tabula rasa.” After working at Morgan Stanley, business school seemed like the next logical step, he said.

“I always had my eye on returning to management and consulting. For me consulting was an environment that was the closest thing in the business world to what I liked about academia,” he explained.

Sanghvi is the former director of the Career Management Center at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, a role he started in 2010.

Sanghvi also currently sits on the board of directors for Positive Coaching Alliance, which was founded in 1998 by the Stanford University Athletic Department.

Positive Coaching Alliance Founder and Executive Director Jim Thompson described Sanghvi as both a friend and a colleague and someone with a “very keen analytical mind.”  Thompson said Sanghvi was a huge asset to the organization in developing their strategy.

“Pulin makes people he works with better people,” he said.

Thompson said Sanghvi’s involvement with Positive Coaching Alliance was part of the reason he rethought what he wanted to do with his life and went into career management at Stanford’s business school.

“His emotional intelligence combined with his analytical training is very powerful,” Thompson said.

“He is a really warm, authentic person,” he added. “When I have an idea or things that are bothering me, I call him to chat about it. He listens really well, and he gives me really good feedback — and not just things I want to hear.”

Vice President for Campus Life Cynthia Cherrey deferred comment to University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua, who on her behalf expressed confidence in Sanghvi to accomplish the revamped goals of Career Services and move the organization forward in a positive direction.

Faculty at the Career Management Center at Stanford Graduate School of Business deferred comment on Sanghvi to the school’s communications staff, who then declined to comment on the basis that Stanford University policy prohibits comment on personnel.

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