5 Questions with Pavan Balekundri

MEM: Describe NC State in one word.

Balekundri: “Gateway” would be an apt word to describe NC State for me. The university serves as a gateway to numerous opportunities and learning experiences, providing students with access to a wide array of educational resources, industry connections, and innovative projects. Being an international student, the ambitions and dreams that we bring here are given greater channel and support. This gateway opens doors to personal and professional growth, allowing students to explore and excel in their chosen fields.

MEM: What is the best recreational activity, in your opinion?

Balekundri: Swimming has always been a personal favorite because it’s so rejuvenating. There’s something magical about being in the water—it’s both a workout and a form of meditation. The rhythmic strokes and the quiet beneath the water’s surface make it a peaceful escape that refreshes both body and mind. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to stay fit and loosen muscles after a great workout.

Basketball brings a different kind of thrill. It’s not just about the physical exercise but the joy of teamwork and strategy. Playing basketball has taught me much about cooperation, quick thinking, and resilience. The fast-paced nature of the game makes it exhilarating, and scoring a basket from the three-point line or taking a layup after a well-coordinated play is incredibly satisfying.

MEM: If you could create a MEM mascot, what would it be, and why?

Balekundri: If I were to pick a mascot for the Master of Engineering Management (MEM) program, I’d choose an elephant. There’s something about elephants that just feels right for MEM. They’re wise and strong, qualities that MEM students aim to embody as they merge technical knowledge with managerial expertise.

Elephants are also known for their incredible memory and capacity for learning, which resonates with the vast knowledge MEM students must grasp and retain. Plus, these magnificent creatures lead their herds with a mix of gentleness and firmness, much like the leadership style the MEM program fosters.

Elephants thrive in their communities, working together, which is precisely what successful engineering management is all about—fostering teamwork and synergy. An elephant, with its grand stature and inspiring traits, perfectly symbolizes the spirit of the MEM program. His name would be ELEPHY.

MEM: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Balekundri: The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is to always focus on competing with yourself and continuously improve. This idea has been a guiding light in my life, pushing me to always strive to be better today than I was yesterday. It’s about personal growth, about constantly raising my own bar and finding satisfaction in my own progress.

There’s a quote by William Faulkner that really captures this sentiment: “Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” This resonates with me because it emphasizes the importance of internal benchmarks over external comparisons. It’s a reminder that the most fulfilling competition is against our own potential, paving the way for genuine growth and self-discovery.

MEM: What is one thing you are currently working on to improve? 

Balekundri: One area I’m actively working on improving is networking and connecting with experienced professionals. Building relationships in professional circles can open doors to valuable insights, mentorship, and opportunities inaccessible through other means. It’s about more than just expanding a contact list; it’s about learning from others’ experiences, sharing knowledge, and cultivating meaningful connections that benefit all parties involved.

I’d really appreciate any tips on engaging more effectively with industry experts or suggestions on platforms where I can connect with professionals who can provide help and valuable insights. Whether it’s advice on networking events, recommendations for online forums, or strategies, any guidance would be incredibly helpful!