Gowtam Atthipalli


I was fortunate to have been raised on three continents, during which I was exposed to a variety of cultures and peoples. My personality is a broad reflection of my multifaceted career – a combination of skills I developed over the years in a cross-cultural environment. I have always been a curious person and interested in how things work. I earned my B.E (Hons.) in mechanical engineering from BITS, Pilani in India. I proceeded to pursue my MS and PhD degrees in Materials Engineering from the University of Cincinnati and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively. My time as a graduate student was a rewarding learning experience, truly transformational in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I had opportunities to mentor students, collaborate with research labs from around the world, publish original peer-reviewed work while working alongside some of the most brilliant minds in science. These experiences helped shape my analytical mindset and more importantly helped me develop an acute sense of cultural sensitivity and empathy.


I wanted to apply the learned skillset in the industry and I made a natural transition to work in Silicon Valley where I started working for a semiconductor firm called Nanometrics. Here I had great client facing experiences, but the projects were relatively specialized; having come from an already specialized background I felt pigeon-holed and took up an opportunity to work for a larger tech giant, Western Digital, a world leader in hard drive manufacturing. It was a rewarding four years as I got to work with people from a vast array of backgrounds from over 30 different countries. Western Digital was unique in that everything was conceived in-house – from conception of next-gen devices to the manufacturing of the final product – hard drives. My role was a mix of strategy, operations, and process control with a heavy focus on data analytics. The projects I led and worked on varied in scope and impact and involved teams from R&D, production, design, fabrication, testing, logistics, and IT.

Clichéd as it may be, I firmly believe that technological innovations hold the key to the advancement of civilizations; however, implementing these technologies in pragmatic way, providing a clear pathway from a concept developed in a research lab to macroscale production for the ultimate end user, requires a business strategy. This spurred my decision to join Kenan-Flagler business school. Having worked in multiple fields, I realize that no single discipline holds all the answers, and that the way to move forward is to make connections across boundaries. The role of a consulting business or consultant is to understand how things work and then make those connections to provide practical and implementable solutions.  This fueled my interest in management consulting.

Interests and Hobbies

I am an avid badminton player and a lifelong fan of the city of Pittsburgh’s sports teams – the Steelers, the Pirates, and Pitt’s Panthers. I have always recognized the importance of education and I served on the board of directors of Nirmaan non-profit, where I spearheaded fundraising activities to benefit underprivileged kids in rural India. In addition, I actively contribute to Kiva’s education initiatives. Having been raised as a global citizen, I have a deep interest in global travel (23 countries and counting), enjoy trivia, and practice transcendental meditation that has helped me gain better perspective on life. In addition to my ability to alternate between three different English accents , I am fluent in Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu, and conversational in French. I try to contribute to the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA community by serving as an MBA Ambassador (International Outreach), International Business Association (Careers Liaison), and Business Technology Club (Executive Liaison).