Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Friday, March 12, 2021

Indu Kilaru, MPA, Certificate in Strategic Innovation

Indu Kilaru, MPA, Certificate in Strategic Innovation

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Vijayawada, India

Undergraduate education
Bachelor of technology degree in computer science and engineering, PVP Siddhartha Institute of Technology, 2019

India’s Brightest Engineer, from the Economic Times, India, 2019

Expected graduation date
May 2022

Certificate program
Strategic management of innovation and technology

Why an MPA?
I had the privilege of working as a global volunteer (AIESEC) in Dong Xing Elementary School, Taiwan. The people I met, specifically my host family and some of the teachers, significantly impacted me. After returning to India, I started working as an education volunteer in Teach for Change. The on-ground experiences I had during this period played a predominant role in my decision to pursue an MPA.

Why the La Follette School?
The La Follette School has a small cohort that is tightly knit. The curriculum is highly customizable and flexible, depending on the student's interests. It is also academically rigorous with a blend of quantitative and qualitative courses. Other factors like the school's ranking, professors, and of course, the weather in Madison made the La Follette School stand out.

Career goals
I envision myself as a policy analyst and a consultant/advisor. I also plan on pursuing my PhD in a field closely related to economic or social policy.

How have your La Follette School courses and/or experiences set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
The courses I have taken so far have given me a solid foundation for policymaking and analysis. I am also pursuing a Certificate in Strategic Innovation from the Wisconsin School of Business, which offers essential foundations in strategic and critical thinking, which will help me as an advisor/consultant.

I am a research assistant in the Human-Robot collaboration project at the La Follette School. I conduct literature reviews to understand how automation and collaborative robots impact employment levels and workplace ergonomics. It has been an exciting learning experience and has introduced me to various facets of industrial policies.

Alumni, staff, student mentors
The learning environment here is warm and friendly. Even before I came to the United States, I got in touch with Muhammad Shayan, who also happens to be my peer mentor. He has been very supportive and helpful in navigating my way through the semesters. He shared his experiences with the classes and offered genuine advice all along. The rest of my classmates are very friendly and helpful, too!

Advice for prospective La Follette School students
Form study teams! They are a great way to learn and share knowledge while collaborating to work on assignments. When in the slightest doubt, do not hesitate to reach out to faculty and staff. They are a great source of support and always extend a helping hand.

Most challenging La Follette School experience
Most of the coursework is challenging, particularly the qualitative part in Statistics (PA 818). The learning system is entirely different from India, so it took me awhile to get accustomed to and understand the process flow. But with the instructors’ support and discussions with classmates, I was able to find my way. Now, I feel more confident about everything!

Most rewarding La Follette School experience
Literally, EVERYTHING! The classes, people, activities are pushing me out of my comfort zone and helping me discover my hidden potential. The qualitative interactions enabled me to gain a greater sense of self. Choosing the La Follette School has been one of the best decisions of my life!

What did you do before enrolling at the La Follette School?
I was a research assistant in the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

La Follette School Student Association involvement
I am serving the Diversity & Inclusion co-coordinator on the LSSA Board.

Is there anything you’d like to add?
I can read Jane Austen's novels and watch FRIENDS any time of the day. I enjoy spending my time with kids. I also love Chicken Biryani (it is one of the things I miss the most from India).