Accounting for Anything

How a degree in biology and an MBA from Rollins’ Crummer Graduate School of Business led Navreet Dhaliwal ’13 ’15MBA to a career at one of Orlando’s coolest tech startups.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

Officially, Navreet Dhaliwal ’13 ’15MBA’s resume includes an undergraduate degree in biology and an MBA from Rollins’ Crummer Graduate School of Business. Unofficially, she has mastered the art of winging it.

Let’s start with Dhaliwal’s transition from her home in India to start college in the U.S. Her parents gave her their blessing to pursue neonatal health studies, even though she had never visited a single campus in the U.S. Sure enough, she hated her first school and transferred to Rollins—and loved it.

While studying biology she accidentally fell in love with (ready for it?) accounting, so much so that she pursued an MBA and fell in love again (this time with a person she initially hated). Just like that, she had flipped two dislikes—one into a future husband and the other into a career with HealthGrid, an Orlando-based tech company launched in 2014 to simplify communication between doctors, hospitals, and patients.

Wait a minute. A tech startup? Dhaliwal’s friends say they never knew she loved technology.

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

You studied biology and business. How did a startup tech company enter the picture? “It’s beyond me. Giving technical answers to complex issues, I don’t fit the profile. But I do know how to work with people and figure things out. I’m not the type who complains and makes excuses. That comes partly from my mom, and a lot of it comes from my experience at Rollins.”

What prepared you to work so far outside your comfort zone? “Startups are a whirlwind of every skill set you can imagine. Each person wears so many hats. If you’re pigeonholed into one specialty, you won’t be as valuable. Fortunately, at Rollins you’re encouraged to explore and to discuss ideas with people you have nothing in common with. Good relationships can cover a lot of ground.”

Leaving India must have been another uncomfortable move. “My parents always gave me so much freedom to do what made me happy. They allowed me to come to the U.S. with no family and without really knowing anyone. My mistake was randomly picking a college in New Jersey off a list of schools. It wasn’t my smartest move.”

How did you find Rollins? “I was visiting Florida during spring break and somehow we drove past Rollins. The area was so pretty—much different from where I spent that first semester. I did some research, transferred, and fell in love with the school. I still live five minutes away.”

An accounting elective led Navreet Dhaliwal to pursue an MBA at Rollins’ Crummer Graduate School of Business. (Photo by Scott Cook) An accounting elective led Navreet Dhaliwal to pursue an MBA at Rollins’ Crummer Graduate School of Business. (Photo by Scott Cook)

How did you go from an undergraduate degree in biology to a MBA program? “During my undergraduate work, accounting was one of the general-education classes available. People were telling me, ‘No, that class is just a requirement for business students. Don’t take it.’ But I absolutely loved it. Yes, accounting. It inspired me to go for my MBA.”

What was your most important takeaway from your time at Crummer? “On one of our first days, we took these personality analyses to match us up with people we’d be working with throughout the program. Turned out, everyone in my group was the polar opposite of me. I thought, ‘seriously?’ We had to take all these classes together and work on projects together. It was more valuable than I ever imagined.”

You had another takeaway from grad school, right? “Yes, my husband, Jordan [Borger ’15MBA]. When we first met at Rollins, it was clear that we were so different—our views, our skin. And one thing we have in common is speaking our minds. In fact, speaking my mind is the reason for my nickname ‘Red Flag.’”

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

It sounds like an interesting home dynamic. “Actually, Jordan’s encouragement has played a big role in where I’ve come. He believes in me, and that’s huge. And we do agree that we’ll want our kids to go to a liberal arts school like Rollins someday—to learn to handle anything that comes their way.”

What excites you about your daily work? “I’m in a place where you can see your personal value and the growth of the company every day. It’s never stagnant. Put it this way, I do not go to bed on Sundays and dread coming to work at HealthGrid to start the week.”

Are you still glad you studied biology? “Oh, sure. It seems like one decision doesn’t have to do with the other, but you realize everything fits together. None of it was a waste, even the semester in New Jersey. I wouldn’t have the job or the husband I have now if it weren’t for every step of the way.”

Photo by Scott Cook Photo by Scott Cook

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