Corporate to Community

Using SCU business skills, Sanjay Gehani MBA ’11 went from climbing the corporate ladder to becoming his own boss franchising preschools.

Corporate to Community
Sanjay Gehani MBA ’11, far right, with his Building Kidz WorldWide team. Photos provided by Gehani.

When he was accepted to Santa Clara University, Sanjay Gehani MBA ’11 initially envisioned something similar to most business students: finish your MBA, climb the corporate ladder, and eventually become an executive at a Fortune 500 tech company. But after being immersed in SCU’s diverse entrepreneurial community and starting his own family, Gehani wanted to use his skills to do something different rather than chase traditional corporate success.

While managing partnerships for Xilinix, a Silicon Valley company that makes programmable chips, Gehani decided to pursue an MBA. He started the Leavey School of Business MBA program in 2007, not knowing that the business approaches he would learn would be vital in his unexpected turn away from corporate America.

“Getting an MBA at SCU, for so many different reasons, expanded my thought process about my career. I went from being so singular and tech-focused to more multifaceted,” says Gehani. “SCU helped me connect with my entrepreneurial side and consider creating my own business rather than solely making the typical corporate investments.”

A year after Gehani earned his MBA, his son was born. A life change that further prompted a reevaluation of his career. He wondered if he was “missing out on a lot of [his] son’s life” while traveling to Europe and Asia 17 weeks out of the year for work. Coincidently, when searching for the perfect preschool for his son, the supply constraint for high-quality early childhood education ignited an entrepreneurial passion in Gehani like nothing else.

With The Boy Scouts 1160x653
Sanjay Gehani MBA ’11 mentoring a group of Boy Scouts.

In 2014, Gehani walked away from his 15-year corporate career to become a partner of Building Kidz School, a for-profit business that franchises preschools. The organization also dedicates 25 percent of its profits to underprivileged children, helping orphans and children with hearing and vision impairments, as well as juvenile diabetes research.

“Seeing how below-average daycares are many parents’ only options when educating their children was heartbreaking to me. When I found Building Kidz School during my preschool search, I knew I wanted to devote my business skills to this cause,” says Gehani. “Helping teachers make a living wage, creating sound academic communities, and focusing on holistic child development is truly food for my soul. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.”

When asked what advice he would give current SCU business students caught between corporate America and pursuing their own entrepreneurial ambitions, Gehani encourages them to live by the motto, “Chase your dreams, don’t chase the cheese.”

“Nothing is more rewarding than being your own boss and growing your own business. It’s not work if it’s your passion,” says Gehani. “What you don’t want to do is look back on your life at 50 years old and reflect on what you wish you did. I always say fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.”

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