Empower Yourself with a Master's in Management
"In an early-stage start-up, you do everything yourself, so a commitment to learning and strong organisational skills are key."
- Name: Tara Priya Chandra
- Home Country: United Kingdom
- Current Job Location: London
- Job Function: Co-founder / CEO of FLO
- Industry of Work: Health / Personal Care
- Name of Company: Here We Flo Ltd ('FLO')
- Hobbies: Reading, boxing, coffee snobbery
- Executive Global Master's in Management from The London School of Economics in 2015
- BA from Columbia University in 2010
What did you do between undergrad (e.g. Bachelor) and Master/MBA?
In the 3 years between graduation and my master's, I was a music recording artist & songwriter. I had indie record deals outside the US, so most of my time was spent touring abroad or in the recording studio in LA or the UK. But usually, being an independent artist doesn't involve a steady or substantial income, so I was always working at least one other flexible job. For example, I created content & wrote copy for a Mark Cuban-funded start-up – I could do that from a hotel room when on tour - and tutored kids in a slew of subjects. I had to relearn all my high school chemistry so I could teach it! It was a very intense time. My first year, every weekday, I would help homeschool a child actor from 9 AM to 12 PM, then see students at a tutoring center from 2 PM to 10 PM, and finally get to work on music from 10:30 PM to 2 AM. But it was still more flexible than a 9-5 day job, in the sense that I could take off time to tour or record out of town when needed.
Why did you decide to pursue a Master/MBA degree? What was the “light bulb” moment you knew business school was in your future?
LA and the music industry had been frustrating experiences. I often felt powerless as the artist, dependent on my management and attorney to make career decisions for me. I was signed to an entertainment conglomerate, and there were a lot of internal politics and funding issues which, while utterly out of my control, affected me and my career significantly. A particularly disappointing episode made me realise, all at once, that 1) I needed to move to London for music and 2) I wanted to empower myself by studying more. The LSE had a really cool new "alternative MBA" program called the Executive Global Master's in Management. I applied and landed in London in September 2013.
Please describe your current job and the skills you need.
Co-founder of my startup, FLO "brilliantly organic" femcare. Sales & relationship management skills are crucial; I pitch FLO almost every day, whether to a retailer, investor or consumer. Graphic design skills: I work in Illustrator far more than I could have imagined, designing our products, ads, marketing, etc. Accounting knowledge helps a lot, as do strategy & planning skills. FLO is FMCG, which means VAT, supply chain, logistics & loads of invoices. In an early-stage start-up, you do everything yourself, so a commitment to learning and strong organisational skills are key.
What did you learn or gain from business school that has allowed you to get where you are today (skills, internships, network, etc.)?
B-school bolstered my confidence in myself and made me realise my agency. My Capstone project was the consumer & market research for (what became) FLO, and the results were strong enough to convince me to take yet another career risk and launch FLO. My professors and classmates were also helpful; our marketing professor gave me advice that influenced our product design, I still turn to one of my banker classmates for finance advice - and my co-founder, Susan, was at LSE with me. Finally, LSE has a great start-up support division called GENERATE that helps entrepreneurs in so many ways. They've been amazing, from providing free legal & accounting advice to giving micro funding to putting us forward for press & marketing opportunities.
What was your inspiration for pursuing your current job/career—why did you get into this particular line of work?
I moved from LA to London in late 2013 and couldn't easily find the organic cotton tampons & pads I had been buying from Whole Foods in the States. In the UK, the organic market - especially health & beauty - has seen strong YOY growth, but the major retailers have been slow to adopt across product sectors and the corporate brands slow to adapt to evolving consumer consciousness. There was a gap in the market for a natural, eco-friendly product that was affordable, accessible & adorable.
Your greatest takeaway from business school?
That the word "business" is far more inclusive and varied than we think it is. I was resistant to thinking of myself as a "business person", because I've always seen myself as a "creative" and a hippie and held a rigid, unfair definition of the word "business". LSE changed that for me. Our class was so professionally diverse: finance and consulting were actually the minority backgrounds. And my professors and the LSE careers department were really encouraging about FLO and helped me see myself as an entrepreneur. So my greatest takeaway is that being an entrepreneur is ultimately about passion, solving a problem & getting paid for it.
Is the job/industry how you expected it to be? If not, what’s the biggest difference?
I had no idea what to expect from starting an organic tampon company!
Did you take the GMAT® exam and if yes, when do you think is the best time to take the exam (e.g. during the Bachelor or after practical experience etc.)
I think the best time to take any graduate school exam - GRE, GMAT, etc - is when you're still in school. You're in the academic mindset and process information efficiently, you can study in the campus library, you can take prep courses with friends and study together…small things add up. It's quite different once you've been away from school for awhile.
Where do you see your career taking you 10 years from now?
That would be telling! I'm a "big dreams" kind of girl, so you can assume world domination, marketing leading, brand expansion & music releases are all on the table. Here's to 2027!