Aathira Sethumadhavan

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Aathira Sethumadhavan ’23

Alumni Spotlight: Master’s in Food Business

“CIA completely changed my life. It gave me the confidence and belief that there are so many potential career opportunities out there in the world of food.”

Why did you decide to pursue a master’s degree and what made you choose the CIA’s master’s program?

When I started this course, I was standing at a crossroads, uncertain about my career and future. I had taken a sabbatical from work and I knew I did not want to go back to a full time hotel career. I most certainly lacked clarity.

I thought I’d do just an MBA, and I remember my dad saying, “Why not find a course that will actually add the right value?” The moment I saw that CIA had an actual master’s program in Food Business, I knew with certainty that THIS was the course I was meant to do.

What is your current position? How has the CIA master’s program prepared you for this role?

CIA completely changed my life. The master’s program changed my perception about the food industry and opened up avenues I never thought about before! On top of that, it gave me the confidence and belief that there are so many potential career opportunities out there in the world of food. Most importantly, it made me realize that I could actually become an entrepreneur. I now work as a certified nutritionist.

Have you landed a new job, begun a new career path, or opened a business since you began your master’s degree journey? How did the CIA master’s program aid in this endeavor?

Beginning the master’s program led me down the path of becoming a certified nutritionist. In addition to working full-time as a recipe content creator on Instagram, I founded and run my own diet and wellness coaching program.

Following the program’s food product concept track in my second year, I am now presently working to create a program which helps people become healthier and happier through better food and lifestyle habits.

The food business program has thrown open so many opportunities for me now in terms of my career—and I am in a very different place from where I started.

What advice would you give to others thinking about getting their master’s degree at CIA?

I would recommend don’t think twice because the knowledge I have gained from this course has been nothing short of phenomenal! The faculty and the material—outstanding to say the least.

What course or experience most impacted you? How has it helped you meet your career goals?

Two courses that have made a huge impact so far—Design Thinking and Supply Chain Management.

Design Thinking changed my perception about almost everything I believed to be true about food and lifestyle. While building prototypes and redoing iterations, I was also changing my own lifestyle, my beliefs about food, my understanding about what the society needed, and my vision for the future.

Supply Chain Management—a subject I was so sure I would not enjoy—has been the foundation of my entrepreneurial journey. The knowledge I’ve gained from this class is essential, as I now actively work on launching my product.

Also, the on-campus residences have been almost dream-like! Studying on the CIA campus, interacting with my classmates from all over the world—best time ever.

How were you able to balance your personal life and job with your studies?

I’m able to manage my personal and professional life along with the studies quite easily. The asynchronous pattern is extremely convenient, and I can plan how to space out my work in advance.

What do you consider to be the strengths of the CIA master’s program?

  1. The faculty (undoubtedly!)
  2. Course material
  3. Asynchronous style
  4. Regular peer reviews and interactions
  5. On-campus residences!

How has the CIA master’s faculty supported your education and professional development?

The faculty have been a powerhouse of strength, support, and knowledge! They are so approachable, and always available to help—even though I live halfway across the world. Overall, this program completely boils down to the faculty, and they are nothing short of amazing.