As Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, Aparna Ramesh is responsible for leading various financial management activities for the Federal Reserve System(FRS), spanning diverse lines of business. Prior to her role as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, she served as Assistant Vice President, Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning, and Director of Financial Planning and Analysis for the Federal Reserve Bank She’s also worked as an Assistant Vice President at Cambridge Savings Bank and was an officer at M&T Bank.
HOW DID YOU DETERMINE THAT THE MIT EMBA PROGRAM WAS RIGHT FOR YOU?
It all came down to the cohort. You get this built-in peer group that’s going to challenge and support you. I knew that I wanted a strong connection with my peers. That’s how I determined the MIT program was the right fit for me.
WHAT WAS MOST DISTINCTIVE ABOUT THE COHORT CULTURE?
Once I got to MIT, it was clear that everyone was exceptionally smart. What I came to appreciate was that our class was operating at a different level of maturity. We all arrived with our own stories, our own goals. But we learned from each other, celebrated each other’s successes. It was—and is—a distinctly non-competitive place.
WHAT WAS AN UNEXPECTED BENEFIT OF THE PROGRAM?
Though I chose to return to my original employer in a different role after the program, what has stayed with me is a realization I had during the program: I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I had previously felt there was something missing in my professional life. Now I know what kind of work truly makes me happy.
WHY THIS PROGRAM?
The coursework covered a lot of ground, but was intuitive, and more than that, applicable. What resonates is the Institute’s “mind and hand” philosophy. There was rigor in how we learned in the classroom. There was equal focus on effective application in the field.
HOW DO YOU SEE THE MISSION OF MIT SLOAN REFLECTED IN YOU WORK?
Since I returned to the Federal Reserve Bank as CFO, I’ve had to make some difficult changes. The notion of being a principled leader—true to MIT Sloan—means doing the right thing for an organization, compassionately. It also means not compromising on results. The program empowered me as this type of leader: the kind who stands by decisions that aren’t always easy, but are right.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO WOMEN CONSIDERING THE MIT EMBA PROGRAM?
When I started the program, I had a working spouse, was going through transformational changes at work, and had two young children. It was a lot to juggle. My classmates had an equal number of commitments. My advice? Don’t try to be perfect. Decide what success looks like by your standards, let the nonessential details go, and get what you want out of the program.