In the realm of global experiences, Akash Miharia‘s journey stands out as a testament to the power of diverse perspectives. A double major in Business Administration and Economics, Akash graduated from Chapman University in 2021, having honed his skills not only in academia but also outside the campus borders.
Akash’s Chapman Experience
Growing up in Abu Dhabi, Akash’s worldview was shaped by the various cultures and ideas. This early exposure to a global society laid the groundwork for his future endeavors. “Transitioning to the United States can be a difficult step for many international students,” says Akash, “but within Chapman’s warm and welcoming environment, I found myself comfortably at home.” From surface-level exploration as a freshman to deep-sea diving into uncharted waters as his collegiate years went on, Akash says his Chapman journey was a transformative one.
Campus involvement played a pivotal role in shaping Akash’s leadership skills. As a member of Greek life, he participated in philanthropic events, honing his ability to work effectively with diverse individuals and bring ideas together. Building relationships with professors and mentors enriched his Chapman experience, opening doors to new opportunities that guided him along his career path. Additionally, Akash says “I took advantage of the events Chapman had to offer – attending seminars, talks, economic forecasts, and career fairs provided me with valuable insights into industry trends and the chance to network with professionals allowing me to expand my network.”
Reflecting on his Chapman University experience, Akash highlights the holistic approach of the Argyros College that went beyond preparing students to receive a piece of paper. He says “It wasn’t just about earning a degree; it was about the hands-on learning experiences and supportive faculty that left a lasting impact.” The curriculum provided a strong foundation in business and economics, while practical skills in communication, leadership, and management extended his influence beyond the core disciplines. Exposure to diverse subjects fostered critical thinking and a broad perspective crucial in the dynamic business world. “It wasn’t just job preparation,” he says, “it was life preparation.”
Several influential figures at Chapman, including Dr. Jared Rubin, Dr. Bart Wilson, Dr. Jan Osborn, and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Vernon L. Smith, acted as mentors, guiding Akash’s academic and intellectual growth. His favorite class, Humanomics, blended economics and humanities. Akash engaged in dynamic discussions, expanded his worldview, and learned the value of autonomy and interdisciplinary learning. He says “This class sparked my passion for understanding human behavior and the incentives that drive it, as well as the collective good that stems from it, a fascination that continues to drive my academic and professional pursuits more than two years after graduation. It motivates me to be a lifelong learner and value diverse perspectives.”
Embarking into the “Real World”
Today, Akash serves as a Product Manager, Search for Walmart‘s eCommerce sector. At the forefront of online retail innovation, he contributes to shaping the shopping experience for consumers. His role requires not just problem-solving skills but a commitment to making the shopping journey remarkable. “From conducting in-depth research and analysis to validate our product direction to crafting technology and UX projects, I assume end-to-end ownership of my product space and ensure our innovations align with our corporate objectives,” he says.
The path to becoming a Product Manager wasn’t initially clear for Akash. However, a blend of business sense, technical skills, and a creative inclination drew him to the role. His journey involved a bit of luck and a lot of curiosity about how products could be improved for users. He says he’s “always wondered why apps, websites, and other products are the way they are and how they can be better for people. I like breaking things down and re-imagining them to be more valuable.” For Akash, being a Product Manager isn’t just a job; it’s an opportunity to inspire, shape the future, and make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.
Lifelong learning is important to Akash, and even after graduating from Chapman in 2021, he could not stay away from the classroom and went on to pursue further education at Arizona State University‘s W.P. Carey Schoool of Business. “Following my Chapman journey, I pursued a Masters in Business Analytics to gain technical expertise,” he says, “enhancing my readiness for the tech industry.” Along the way, Akash worked part-time as a Business Development Analyst at Infrrd where his role involved analyzing buyer sentiment, tailoring sales strategies, and producing custom Salesforce reports.
Advice for Students & Recent Graduates
“To those students or recent graduates considering a path similar to mine, I want to begin by emphasizing that it’s absolutely fine to not have all the answers. I certainly didn’t. Yet, this uncertainty has helped me get closer to what I truly want,” says Akash. He encourages maintaining a positive and resilient mindset, turning rejections into opportunities for growth. Akash also shares valuable insights for aspiring product managers:
- Be a knowledge sponge, learning from all available sources, while embracing your unique perspective and sharing unconventional insights.
- Let imposter syndrome fuel your growth and experience. Fearlessness will earn you respect; remember, it’s about learning, not losing.
- Leverage your strengths while actively working on your weaknesses. Celebrate small wins and even the losses to find joy in the everyday.
- Cultivate personal connections with empathy and respect. Network to build relationships and establish trust.
- Connect the dots and seek insights through regular reflection.