Marriott Alumni Magazine

Winter 2014

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Alumni News Management Society Shanghai Chapter Hosts BYU Professor Shanghai—China’s most populous city—is now home to a growing BYU Management Society chapter, the only one in mainland China. “I arrived in Shanghai in August 2011 and noticed there wasn’t a chapter there,” says Sean Luangrath, former chapter president. “After collaborating with other alumni, along with Helena Hannonen and Rixa Oman, we were able to get a chapter organized in April 2012.” The young chapter has evolved from nearly all expats into a group comprised of local residents and international alumni. “Today the mix of members is about 60 percent expats and 40 percent locals,” Luangrath says. “The active president is a local, which is helping in the chapter’s transition to complete self-sufficiency as expats leave to different locations.” Following Management Society tradition, the Shanghai chapter hosted its first large event in May 2013. The conference featured Tom Foster, a renowned global supply chain management professor from the Marriott School. Foster focused on best practices and global trends within the supply chain industry in his evening address at Shanghai’s Hong Kong New World Tower. “Professor Foster’s presentation was very relevant to our Chinese audience,” Luangrath says. “A large portion of the business here involves supply chain, and the members are keenly interested Serving Up Goodness Pretty Govindji was always an avid viewer of the Food Network, but when her sons came into the picture, her investment in tasty meals took on new meaning. Dinnertime goals soon centered on organic cooking, and before too long, Govindji realized what she served food on might matter just as much as good fruits and veggies. Govindji is the cofounder of Kangovou, a line of dishes designed for moms who want sophisticated and safe dinnerware for their families. All of Kangovou’s products are free from BPA, PVC, phthalate, melamine, and lead. The plates, cups, and bowls Govindji designed are made from high-quality, food-grade stainless steel that doesn’t leach chemicals. Each piece comes with an outer jacket, which locks in the temperature and prevents burns. “As an entrepreneur I love the idea that in building a business I can give back to the community by providing safe dishware for kids,” Govindji says. Prior to starting Kangovou, Govindji directed the human resources department at 1-800-CONTACTS. Her desire to better understand the financial side of things led her to complete an Executive MBA at the Marriott School in 2002. By the time she decided to pursue an MBA, she already had two degrees under her belt: a psychology BS from Virginia Commonwealth University in 1996 and an MS in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Baltimore in 1998. Despite her impressive credentials, Govindji knows that starting a business can be terrifying. “As most entrepreneurs will tell you, you are scared about the things you don’t know more than the things you know,” she says. “I found that if you are honest with people when you don’t know something, they are often willing to provide advice and guide you. I feel so fortunate to have found people willing and able to help me, and I am profoundly grateful.” Now Kangovou is growing domestically and internationally. Govindji admits that maintaining a balance of work and life can be tricky, but she still has at heart her original motivations for starting the business. “One of the reasons I started my own business was to have the flexibility that comes with it: to make my own schedule, allowing me to spend time with the inspiration behind my company—my sons, Devan, Dhru, and Akash.” Along with their children, she and her husband, Rakesh, live in Raleigh, North Carolina, the perfect spot for their family. “We are only three hours away from the beach and three and a half hours away from the mountains,” she says. When the family decides to stay in, you might find her at home enjoying her go-to comfort foods: roasted chicken enchiladas and her husband’s famous three-cheese baked macaroni. The Kangovou dishes in her cupboards can also be found at more than twenty retailers. Since its beginnings, the business isn’t the only thing that’s grown. Govindji feels her confidence has increased tremendously. “I know whatever lies ahead with my business I will be able to handle. Just keep moving forward.”

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