Even as a young girl taking dance classes, Shilpa Arya (BSM 2007) was focused on improving efficiency, from easing the entrance of dancers to the stage to how parents filed in for recitals. So she already knew she had a strong interest in process improvement by the time she enrolled as a Management major at Georgia Tech.
"When I was filling out the application to Georgia Tech, my parents asked me if I wanted to be an engineer," she says. "I said, 'No, I want to be in business; I want to make things better.'"
Arya is fulfilling this goal in her job at The Home Depot, where she's worked for the last two years, focusing on ways to improve the consumer experience and help store associates do their jobs faster and better. She was recently promoted to senior business analyst within the Store Operations department.
Arya got a lot of preparation for this job through Georgia Tech's Cooperative Education Program, which allows students to earn as they learn, alternating semesters on campus with full-time jobs at participating companies. The opportunity to participate in a Co-op program in a city with many employment options was a major factor in attracting her to Georgia Tech from her hometown of Columbia, South Carolina.
Arya, who completed her undergraduate studies in five years (which is standard for the Co-op program), spent five semesters working at Delta Air Lines in a process improvement role. For example, she studied ways to improve the movement of passengers through check-in lines and onto planes, then back off again.
"I loved the Co-op program because I got to employ the concepts I was learning in the classroom," Arya says. "Everything just clicked so much easier from then on."
Knowing that much of her learning would be outside the classroom, she made a point to be involved in numerous extracurricular activities at Tech. She held leadership roles within her sorority, the FASET orientation program, Freshman Council, and Lambda Sigma Honor Society and serving as president of Georgia Tech Ambassadors.
She continues to interact with members of the network she built at Georgia Tech in her current job. "I work with a lot of management and industrial engineering graduates from Tech, including my sorority sisters and fellow ambassadors," says Shilpa, who married fellow management major, Ashish Arya (BSM 2006). "It's great to meet new people, but you can’t beat working with other Tech grads."
She adds, "Coming to Georgia Tech was the best decision I’ve ever made. I came from a small town where everybody looked and thought the same, so it was refreshing to come to a school with not only tremendous cultural diversity, but also great diversity in thought. It's a very accepting community, and I’m grateful and honored to be a part of it."