Journey from engineer and Rutgers MBA led to CEO's office

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Rutgers Business School Alumni Profile: Ganpat Mani, Rutgers MBA, 1973, President and Chief Executive Officer of ConverDyn (2009-2013)

Imagine a day before PowerPoint, before clickers, laser pointers, and multimedia. Imagine a young, talented, trained engineer entering a boardroom full of high‐powered executives, about to deliver the presentation of his life.

“Back then in the 80s, we had to use these big, bulky, overhead projector transparencies,” laughed Ganpat Mani, Rutgers MBA ’73, the engineer turned manager at Allied Chemical in Morristown, NJ.  “They kept asking questions and to their astonishment, I kept pulling out transparencies that had the answer.” Mani and his team made sure he had a transparency sheet for every possible question that might be asked during the two hour grilling. He was promoted shortly thereafter.

Life’s long journey from earning an MBA at Rutgers to becoming the CEO at ConverDyn, which specializes in the nuclear fuel conversion trade, took Mani from India to England, Germany, New York, and New Jersey, finally ending up in Denver, where he has lived since 1995. From 2009 to 2013, Mani was President and Chief Executive Officer of ConverDyn, a partnership between affiliates of Honeywell International Inc. and General Atomics.

His career started early, as an engineer’s apprentice in Germany as a teenager. After Mani earned a Bachelor of Technology Degree in Metallurgical Engineering from Loughborough University, UK, he then lived in New York, just missing out on an engineering job because of the economic recession in 1971. So he got his first taste of how important developing customer relationships were while working at an Indian Handicrafts & Handlooms store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. “I really enjoyed meeting people and getting a feeling for customer interaction,” he said.

His experience in retail gave Mani the inkling that he wanted to change his career from a technical path to become more involved in the people side of the business. He chose to go to Rutgers for his MBA to make that switch and never looked back. “I remember an incredible hands‐on learning experience at Rutgers,” he said, citing the ground‐ breaking Inter-Functional Business Management Program started by Professor S. George Walters.

Now known as Rutgers MBA Team Consulting, the program brings teams of student consultants together to work on real problems for major companies in the region.

Upon graduation from Rutgers he was immediately hired by Allied Chemical, which became Honeywell, where he stayed for 34 years.

One skill that Mani offered as a major factor to his success was learning how to improve his public speaking. “I had the technical background, but could I connect with a room of senior executives?” He joined Toastmasters International in New Jersey which Mani believes significantly helped his career advancement.

His bio is full of examples of building relationships with companies around the world, negotiating agreements for the safe global trade of uranium, trade missions to Russia, China, Japan, and India, and high-level meetings with the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Energy and State. Mani said he loves travel and meeting people from other cultures. “I’ve flown 2.7 million miles with United Airlines alone,” he reflected. He still gets birthday cards from his business friends from all over the planet. 

Since retiring a few years ago, Mani serves on two company boards, Uranium Energy Corp. and Uranium Particpation Corp. He also works with Bala Mandir, an orphanage in Chennai, India, which he visits often.

 His advice to Rutgers students follows Mani’s genuine interest in getting to really know people. “I advise everyone to connect with people not just for money, but for life and as fellow human beings,” he said.

- By Daniel J. Stoll          

TAGS: Alumni Alumni Profile MBA Rutgers Business School Alumni Association