Diverse Interests Drive Success for MEM Student Gautham Pandiyan

April 1, 2009

As a young man growing up in Chennai, India and in England, Gautham Pandiyan has always sought out new experiences and opportunities. When he came to Duke to pursue a PhD in Molecular Cancer Biology he took advantage of Duke's interdisciplinary approach to education and tried a few Fuqua classes. Quickly realizing that he had a flare for business and innovation, Gautham completed his MS and made the switch to the MEM program where he could continue to pursue his technical interests and build a foundation of business skills.

Gautham is a standout MEM student both in and out of the classroom. As an undergraduate at The University of Georgia, he volunteered with the UGA International Student Life office and was extremely appreciative of the services that they provided to international students. When he came to Duke, he took it a step further and applied to be the Residential Manager of the Duke International House. He got the job and has spent the past year living in the I-House, working with I-House staff to improve services, and even driving the van for the biweekly shopping trip once a month. Gautham feels that the I-House is an important part of the international student experience here at Duke – a home away from home where international students can seek guidance and support.

Gautham's engagement in the Duke community goes far beyond just the international student population. Elected as a member of the GPSC executive board in the past and having served on the board of directors for the National Association for Graduate and Professional Schools, Gautham has worked to help graduate and professional students across the country. He led lobbying efforts in Washington, DC to improve the climate for graduate and professional students and also works daily with the Duke administration. Gautham was recently nominated for the Young Trustee Award here at Duke, and despite not receiving the award, feels honored to have been nominated. Additionally, as an employee of Duke's Office of Licensing and Ventures and as a key player in Entrepreneurship-Week planning and execution, Gautham celebrates the entrepreneurial spirit of Duke.

Gautham's talents also reach into the arts. As an active member of Sabrosura, an on-campus Salsa dancing group, Gautham struts his stuff at shows and even provides occasional lessons to other MEM students. In his free time (it hardly seems possible that he could have any) Gautham likes exploring Durham, spending time with friends, and researching industry, which he feels is a clear indicator that he made the right choice when he moved to MEM. Gautham hopes to work on the commercial side of a biotechnology or pharmaceutical company when he graduates in September. There is no doubt that Gautham will make his mark on the world, he has certainly made his mark at Duke.