In about the time it takes you to read this story, 6,000 kilograms of clothing will be tossed into Australian landfills. Extend that to a year, and another 235 million T-shirts, pants and random other garments will have been jettisoned into UK dumps. These castoffs represent an enormous tragedy for the planet, and a serious motivator for HEC Paris MBA student Priya Kumar.
One of Priya’s long-term plans is to develop an online platform that allows people to donate clothes and other items directly to the charities of their choice. The project recently earned her a McKinsey Next Generation Women Leaders Award (NGWL), a prize that includes a €2,000 scholarship and a personal mentor from the prestigious management consulting firm. “It’s an opportunity to be inspired by the best, and to inspire others in the process,” Priya says.
Though Priya sees the online platform as a project for “a few years after the MBA,” her life already serves as an inspiration for parents everywhere. After years of working as an account executive for Guess, managing India and Southeast Asia accounts for the clothing manufacturer, she gave birth to her daughter in 2015. After a short sabbatical, she decided to return to the professional world equipped with an MBA.
She says HEC Paris was the best fit for her future career because of its location in Europe, the hub of the fashion world. Another advantage for her was the university’s very strong network in the luxury, prestige and packaged goods segments in the geographies of her choice.
“Lots of people think that having a child necessarily means taking a step back in your career,” she explains. “I think having a child actually empowers you. I want to set an example and be my best self for my daughter.”
As the current VP of the MBA’s Marketing Club and with the McKinsey NGWL, Priya is well on the way to becoming her best self.
Her advice to other women wanting to apply for the NGWL? “Believe in the power within you. The juncture that we are at today has endless possibilities and it is up to us to shape our future. And what better way than to learn directly from the best in the trade? Hence, the NGWL is a great opportunity.”