The Booth Experience’s Women@Booth series aims to highlight the experiences of exemplary women leaders at the school. Over the months of March and April, we will speak to women across Chicago Booth to uncover their past experiences, understand what brought them to Booth, and get a sneak peek into what lies ahead for them. We hope these stories bring to the fore the people who make Chicago Booth a great community to be part of and inspire women around the world.
The next person to be featured in this series is Dhanasree Molugu, who is pursuing a career in venture capital to help the next generations gain access to technology, education, and healthcare.
Dhanasree grew up in Hyderabad, India, and later moved to Mumbai where she studied engineering as an undergrad at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay. Prior to Booth, she spent ~4 years in VC across India & China. As an Associate at India’s leading early-stage VC Blume Ventures she worked on ~14 investments over 3 years in SaaS, Marketplaces, and Fintech. She also helped create Arka Venture Labs (the first India-US B2B startup accelerator). After her investing stint at Blume, she spent a year in Beijing at Peking University as a Yenching Scholar learning about Chinese markets and also working with Xiaomi’s strategic investments team on Fintech investments. Currently, she is interning with Foundation Capital in SF as part of the inaugural cohort of PE/VC lab SF initiative.
Why did you decide to come to Booth?
I have not one but three vital reasons why I decided to come to Booth. First, all my interactions with Booth students, alumni, and staff have been so welcoming and supportive that I developed a deep sense of belonging to Booth early-on. Second, I’ve always been academically driven and Booth’s stellar faculty and resources were a big draw. I couldn’t wait to be in a place where great business minds of the world— Professor Eugene Fama, Professor Richard Thaler, Professor Raghuram Rajan, Professor Steven Kaplan, Professor Kevin Murphy, to name a few —taught! Last, I realized that at Booth, we have a culture where ideas compete and we value people who are unafraid to voice their opinions. Here in Chicago, we prefer to let arguments stand and fall on their own merit. We grow as thinkers listening to conflicting ideologies—where two Nobel laureates, namely Prof. Eugene Fama and Prof. Richard Thaler, argue whether markets are efficient or irrational. This was the last reason and strongest of them all as I believed I share this trait of forming my own opinions and sticking to my principles.
How have you found the women support network at the school?
For the most part of my academic and professional life I had very few women peers. During my undergrad at IIT-Bombay, I was one of 74 girls in a class of 834 students and I was often the only woman in the room during my 5 years working in the venture capital and investment banking industries. But here at Booth, I’m blessed to be surrounded and supported by ambitious, kind, and strong women peers, especially those who are also interested in venture capital and finance in general. The support I received from the Women@Booth has been in various forms from both my peers as well as the alumni. They cheered me on when the going got tough, they invited me for wine nights to just chat, and they always made me feel that they are just a ping away. I’m super proud to be amidst these boss-women!
Are there any initiatives that stand out for you with respect to the support women leaders get at Booth?
Apart from all the love and support that I’ve received from the women community, there are two initiatives that stand out for me. The first is the Lead’Her’ship program—a brilliant quarter-long module where women leaders receive mentorship and develop the skills to recognize and communicate their strengths, share their perspectives, and influence their workplace culture. The second is the Women as VCs , Entrepreneurs, Board members course that brings stellar guest lecturers who are women VCs, founders, CXOs to our classroom so that we can interact with them and build our own paths to become the future business leaders.
What are you most passionate about?
I’ve been a math geek and technology-enthusiast all my life. Through my personal and professional experiences, I’ve become passionate about the intersection of technology and finance. Hence, I am motivated about a career in venture capital where I hope to deploy my analytical skills to help support and nurture innovation that potentially can help next generations gain equal and easy access to technology, education, and healthcare.
What are your personal and/or professional aspirations going forward? How has Booth helped in you achieving these aspirations?
My professional aspiration is to join a leading VC fund post MBA and eventually start my own fund or venture, and Booth is already helping me do that. In my first quarter at Booth, I was able to secure an internship with a leading SF-based VC fund (Foundation Capital) through the Polsky Center (Booth’s Entrepreneurship and VC research center). There are several other avenues for me to grow professionally here at Booth—be it courses such as Entrepreneurial Finance & Private Equity or programs such as New Venture Challenge.
On the personal front too, I’ve had the chance to reflect and—as we call it here at Booth—’flex‘ myself and grow as a person through the leadership development programs such as LEAD, Interpersonal Dynamics, etc. I’m also supremely fortunate to be attending Booth alongside my significant other. Booth’s excellent support system for couples and student-partners provided us with several opportunities to learn, challenge, and rediscover ourselves through this shared experience.