An MBA and a trained Himalayan mountain climber, Upasana Basnyat sees a clear relationship between mountaineering and business. “Mountain climbers are trained to be cautious, to be aware of changing environments, and to realistically assess themselves,” says Basnyat. “Sometimes they find it hard to let go of a vision even if the circumstances don’t suit that vision, a course that leads to failure.” In sound business decision-making, she notes, leaders must take into account the business environment and objectively assess resources and risks. Another parallel is the necessity of teamwork. “No one ever climbed Everest alone,” she observes.
Basnyat grew up in the busy modern city of Kathmandu. Although athletics came naturally to her, it was never a given that she would become a mountaineer. Not many locals climb. She was, however, the exception. The teenager attended boarding school in India as well as the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in Darjeeling. As she describes it, the institute was “a sort of army boot camp with scenery.” Students endured months of training. At age 17, she ascended 17,575 feet to Mt. Everest Base Camp.
Basnyat went on to earn her undergraduate degree in finance from the Cass Business School, London. Work as a trainee at an accountancy firm in London and as a management trainee in Kathmandu led to graduate studies at Baruch College.
So what’s next? The newly minted MBA in finance and entrepreneurship is weighing her options, which include special training for a higher ascent of Everest.
—Elaine Bernstein, Graduate Academic Services, Zicklin School of Business