A Different Kind of Operation

Anirudh Kulkarni headshot

Anirudh Kulkarni headshotStudying engineering was not on Anirudh Kulkarni’s mind when he began his freshman year at GW in 1982. He wanted to become a doctor, like his father, and go the pre-med route as an undergraduate. The elder Kulkarni, recognizing the tremendous analytical skills of his son, suggested engineering might be better suited to his natural talents. So when Anirudh chanced upon an orientation given by the Operations Research (OR) Department (now known as EMSE – engineering management and systems engineering) within the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS), he was enthralled to learn that real world problems could be addressed by simulations using mainframe systems. The orientation spoke to his love of data and analytics, and how hard math and applied math could combine. Anirudh, SEAS BS ’86, MS ’88, declared himself an OR major – leaving the other operating table behind – and minored in economics and statistics.

During his senior year, Anirudh interviewed with a few companies and accepted an offer from TRW. A snappy motto about the future and the offer to pay for graduate school kept him with the company for three years. In 1989 at 25 years old, Anirudh left TRW to start his own company focused, not surprisingly, on consumer product analytics. This initial experience as an “intrapreneur” paved the way for the company he would found in 2002 and at which he remains today as CEO, Customer Value Partners.

Headquartered in Northern Virginia, CVP began as a technology and management advisory company, with America Online its first major client. CVP sought to use advanced technology to drive change in business, and Anirudh’s vision for CVP was, and continues to be, building a business based on strong culture that aims to drive innovation and change. Currently, CVP works with markets that continuously face disruptive change: healthcare; national security; and the public sector. With operations research and analytics at its core, CVP helps clients like the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of State, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and many more navigate change in areas of organization and culture, process innovation, and cyber security.

CVP boasts several awards and distinctions, including being named to the Fastest Growing Companies list in the Washington Business Journal and Inc. 5000. The award with the greatest significance for Anirudh is CVP’s being name to the Top Workplaces list in the Washington Post – a confirmation that he has succeeded in creating the type of company he envisioned.

Anirudh remembers his time at GW fondly. He was actively involved in student organizations, including serving as president of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honors society. As an alumnus he had been less active until three years ago when he returned to campus to attend the annual New Venture Competition finals. Concerned that he saw no engineering students among the top 10 finalists, Anirudh created an endowed speaker series in SEAS that seeks to bring to campus speakers focused on change, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship. The series launches this April with change agent and former chief information officer of the FCC David Bray delivering the keynote.

Now that he’s actively involved with SEAS again, he’s making up for lost time: Anirudh volunteers as a mentor to a SEAS Clark Scholar; as a judge for the past two years at the New Venture Competition; and as a member of the SEAS dean’s National Advisory Council. You can meet this passionate alumnus yourself when he delivers the keynote address at the SEAS 12th Annual R&D Showcase on Wednesday, February 21. The world of medicine may have lost a competent doctor, but the field of engineering gained a consummate professional and advocate.

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