Undergraduate Blog

A Career of Personal Purpose with Irma Goyal Shrivastava (McIntire ’93)

Shrivastava’s visionary approach and knowledge of customer-focused business strategy, governance, brand marketing, and organizational development are allowing the firms she works with to seize opportunities in the dynamic customer landscape.

Irma Goyal Shrivastava

In the best of situations, we find a way to stick with the things we love doing most­­. For Irma Goyal Shrivastava, that has meant consulting.

A Commerce alumna who concentrated in Marketing and Strategic Managem­­­­ent, Shrivastava started her professional journey as a Business Analyst at A.T. Kearney, an unexpected opportunity she couldn’t help but seize.

“I had taken the LSAT and gotten into law school, but through successful on-campus interviewing at McIntire, I got a job with a global consultancy that made me want to defer law school. The rest is history,” says the Plano, TX, native. “I fell for consulting.”

That love for the profession took her to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, where she earned her MBA, which was followed by a series of roles over 18 years with The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta, GA. “I moved here in 1997 and have stayed on,” Shrivastava says of her Georgia home base. Currently, she is CEO of R Squared Strategic Solutions, a marketing consultancy she founded in 2021. She also sits on multiple private equity-backed company boards that value the importance of marketing to drive growth.

What is it about her profession that has kept her so engrossed in her work?

“I have come back full circle to consulting now with a focus and expertise in brand and consumer,” she says. “It is where I started my career as a Business Analyst to now where I advise CEOs, CMOs, and boards regarding their marketing-driven growth agenda. In particular, I love that I can help a leader identify the issue that is limiting their growth and focus in on how to break past it to drive sustainable growth.”

She explains that her role, insights, and experiences position her to create positive impact. Shrivastava notes that recently, while working with a well-known brand, she was able to help them redefine themselves for a better outlook. “The company had been trapped by its previous success and blind to the fact that their brand was not positioned for the future. We did research to identify where their customers were going and how to evolve their brand successfully. Overall, I enjoy advising the brand growth strategy for large, well-established brands and for small, entrepreneurial consumer brands,” she says.

In addition to her consulting work, Shrivastava’s efforts as an Independent Director for companies provide firms and the individuals who work for them with the benefit of her knowledge of customer-focused business strategy, governance, brand marketing, and organizational development.

“Given my visionary approach to connect with unique consumer insights and deliver an optimal customer experience to drive sales, I look ahead to seize opportunities in the dynamic customer landscape,” she says. “In addition to global enterprise organization experience, I bring small company know-how as an entrepreneur and as a board member.”

One of the boards she is a member of, Desi Fresh Foods, is giving her the opportunity to combine both her personal and professional interests; Shrivastava is relying on her marketing, retail, and cultural insights in the boardroom in order to assist the company as they aim to take their ethnic Indian food and beverage business to the mass market.

Culture and Passion

Speaking of her global enterprise organization experience and culture, Shrivastava is also Co-Founder of recently launched IndiaRooted, a program of cultural experiences designed to provide Indian American teens with the opportunity to learn about themselves by better understanding their ancestral heritage and culture with their peers.

Putting true passion into a project that she is “excited to bring to life” stems from an idea that came by way of her daughter who graduated from high school last year. “She had a good friend who is Korean American and was embarking on a program to go to South Korea for the summer to connect with her culture. As I researched, I discovered that similar programs existed for other cultures, but not for Indian Americans,” she says. “Well, now it does!”

IndiaRooted will lead its first group of 17- to 19-year-olds to India June 10-23, 2024, and is still accepting applications. Shrivastava says the inaugural cohort will experience the country from a multitude of angles: “Visiting iconic sites such as the Taj Mahal, going on a tiger safari, hanging out with teens in India, meeting artists, and seeing how business is done in India. The goal is for each participant to develop an emotional connection to their Indian heritage. Research indicates that people who better understand themselves and where they came from are more secure and self-confident.”

She believes that her interest in and attention to her culture have significantly informed her experiences and expectations. “As a leader with a dual upbringing, I appreciate the importance of cultural understanding to better connect with customers and to successfully steer organizations,” says Shrivastava. “I am passionate about cultural understanding as a way for individuals to chart their path forward more effectively.”

For students today trying to find their way forward while facing uncertainties of the job market, unsettled disruptors such as AI, and an unstable political landscape, she advises soon-to-be professionals to stay grounded and use their business education to do the most good in the world in three words: “Chase your passion.”

Shrivastava says that that for her, that burning interest was found in pursuing consumer, culture, and connection. “I am living that today. Along the way, I learned what I was really excited about,” she says, encouraging students to tap into their feelings to find what that is for them and what drives them in any opportunity. “Focusing on how you feel may sound like a luxury, but it is not. See how you feel and build around that feeling the work that excites you. This may start as a side gig or a hobby. Over time, it can become more. This will shape your personal purpose.”

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