After law school, Sheila Bangalore, WG’21, began her legal career as a corporate and securities associate at Bilzin Sumberg before eventually moving cross-country to Las Vegas to work in the gaming industry. As assistant general counsel for two public gaming manufacturers, she worked hand-in-hand with her teams to arrive at solutions, while nurturing her curiosity for business, and began thinking about getting an MBA.
In 2016, she organized a power of technology conference geared towards the professional development of women in gaming. “We brought together titans in the industry and gave them a platform to share their insights and engage in discussion with women who sought career advancement but didn’t know where to begin. We were inspired to do something different and didn’t realize just how much it would resonate until the tickets sold out in days. It was an amazing opportunity to exercise a non-legal muscle and also helped me realize I could do a lot more,” she said.
Her passion for problem-solving eventually led to an invitation to join the board of directors for Global Gaming Women, where she continued to be motivated and inspired by C-level women and helped guide the organization’s strategic direction by co-chairing its Strategic Planning Committee.
At the same time, Sheila was also working on complex transactions and wanted to better speak the language of numbers. “To support my business teams and be a stronger advocate, I needed to seal gaps in finance and accounting so that I could understand issues beyond a legal perspective. I realized that the best way for me to achieve my full potential was to take the big step of pursuing an MBA,” she said.
Forming a Plan to Go Back to School
Her next step was to put together a plan with her family. She explained, “My twins were entering elementary school, and my husband directed a busy medical practice. Given our already demanding schedules, family buy-in for this next step was essential.” Sheila’s foray into business school would require significant adjustments to her own work schedule and her husband’s emergency room call shifts. Her kids – first-graders at the time – got excited about joint study sessions with their mom.
Researching EMBA Programs
With her family’s support, Sheila began researching EMBA programs. She recalled, “Fortuitously, Wharton was hosting an EMBA Admissions Reception in Las Vegas, which I discovered through my Linkedin network, and I attended. It was wonderful to meet like-minded people who were curious and excited about their futures. I decided to seek out a premiere executive MBA program close to home where I could learn with others, like the people I met that evening.”
In the end, Sheila applied to only one school: Wharton’s EMBA San Francisco program. “Wharton has exceeded my expectations. From the beginning, I was learning from top faculty like Vice Dean Peggy Bishop Lane for Accounting, Prof. Michael Useem for Leadership, and Prof. Kent Smetters for Economics. I was able to bring class concepts into real life with projects already underway. As I continued at Wharton, I have leaned into its renown Finance Department to soak up as much as I could, and I plan to graduate with a major in Finance.”
Moving to the C-Suite
While attending Wharton, Sheila transitioned into a C-level role at MP Materials Corp (NYSE: MP), a specialty rare earth materials company. Soon after she joined this team, MP began the process of going public.
She recalled, “My present role as chief strategy officer and general counsel better aligns with my skill set and allows me to work alongside a dynamic executive team in thoughtfully growing our business. MP’s products are critical to the modern technological economy and help power global electrification efforts currently underway. I’m energized to contribute towards major milestones in MP’s history and am excited for our future,” she said.
On November 18, 2020, MP commenced trading on the New York Stock Exchange. “I’m grateful for the support of a wonderful team, and count being on hand to ring the NYSE bell as a career highlight,” she noted.
Advice for Prospective Students
For Sheila, the key to success as an EMBA student is setting priorities. She said, “Wharton’s EMBA program is not something you take on casually, especially with children and other important commitments.”
She added, “Once you make those decisions to allow yourself to experience the program to the fullest, and then apply those learnings to solve interesting business challenges, the sky’s the limit.”
-By Meghan Laska
Posted: March 8, 2021