From Commander to Student to Fellow to CEO

Maternova

It’s safe to say that opportunities at Babson helped catapult Prakash Veenam MBA’18 into a new career.

A former Indian Navy commander, Veenam came to Babson to earn an MBA rooted in the entrepreneurial spirit and to be inspired by a multinational, multicultural cohort. Not surprisingly, he was a very active student leader. He explored the many activities and resources that Babson offers with openness and curiosity.

Before Veenam graduated, he worked with Babson’s Graduate Center for Career Development to take advantage of an intriguing opportunity: a special Global Healthcare Entrepreneurship fellowship. This post-graduate fellowship gives international students the chance to work for the summer on a consulting project. All participating organizations address health challenges in low-resource settings, both in the U.S. and abroad.

Veenam’s fellowship was at Maternova, a resource for cutting-edge medical innovations in newborn, obstetrics, and reproductive health. Maternova co-founder Meg Wirth had a relationship with Babson already, having participated in the Beyond the Hack session at BOW World Health Day 2018. With her organization in a critical growth phase, Wirth was excited to work closely with a Babson MBA alumnus who she hoped would bring fresh entrepreneurial insights and perspectives to the team.

“During the initial phases of my time with Maternova, I understood the vast opportunity that its credo carried, and how immensely I could contribute,” said Veenam. “Meg always saw me as an equal, and gave me tremendous freedom and responsibility.”

In Fall 2018, Veenam was a featured guest at a Global Health Learning Circle, giving Babson students advice on leveraging past experiences and and Babson resources to step into new career paths.

Fast forward three months, and Veenam’s fellowship had come to an end. However, his relationship with Maternova turned into something unexpected. He was offered, and accepted, a role as the company’s CEO.

“Prakash’s leadership role at Maternova evolved swiftly based upon his combination of strategic leadership skills and ability to execute tasks and decisions at all levels,” shared Wirth. “We have worked with many, many students, recent graduates, consultants, and colleagues, but Prakash’s immediate understanding of the mission and vision of the company and his business acumen stood out.”

Now, seven months into the role, Veenam is using the skills he developed at Babson, and during his time in the Indian Navy, to move Maternova forward.

“I have been in a similar role before as the captain of a warship in the Indian Navy. But being the CEO of a small business with a social impact mission has its own challenges,” he said. The major difference? Manpower and resources.

Veenam doesn’t shy away from these challenges. He welcomes them—and that has been his greatest lesson thus far. “I learned to never underestimate my potential and what I can achieve. The right word is YES for every challenge. And, with the business acumen Babson has instilled in me, I look forward to every aspect of this wonderful opportunity.”

Reporting and interviewing for this story was contributed by Rebecca Obounou. You can read her full interview with Prakash Veenam MBA ’18 on the Lewis Institute blog.  

Posted in Campus & Community, Entrepreneurs of All Kinds

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