Meet Smita Srivastava: Serving Others through Mentorship and Research

By Eric Hollenbeck

Smita Srivastava is known throughout the Carson College of Business as someone who her peers can turn to for support, encouragement and guidance. The third-year doctoral student in entrepreneurship is respectfully known as the “glue” for new doctoral students because she connects students with resources and offers advice to help them get the most out of their doctoral program experience.

It is her dedication and service to her peers that earned Srivastava the Carson College’s Graduate Student Service Award in spring 2018. “I believe that PhD students who join the program face a lot of challenges. I do not want them to face the similar difficulties that I faced when I was new to the program,” says Srivastava.

Srivastava describes the time in a PhD program as a marathon rather than a sprint. “My aim is not to teach anything to the first-year doctoral students, but rather make them aware of the resources available. I just wanted to let them know that they are not alone and suggest to them what may work better,” she says.

The award recognizes the impact Srivastava has on other doctoral students. “The graduate student service award is a positive appreciation by all those who believed that I have been of some help to them. It means a lot to me and tremendously shapes my future role to be faculty.”

Helping entrepreneurs think differently about resources

In addition to her eagerness to help other doctoral students, Srivastava is also active with her own research, primarily focusing on strategy and entrepreneurship.

For her doctoral thesis, she is exploring resource acquisition strategies and the after-effects of resource acquisition for start-ups. Her research may help entrepreneurs better understand how to acquire financial, social, and informational resources that are often imperative to the survival of new business ventures.

“Most businesses believe that financial capital is the crucial resource requirement for the new ventures; however, my research suggests ‘mo’ money, mo’ problems’ because entrepreneurs may focus too intensely on raising capital while disregarding other resources crucial for growth and survival,” she says.

“Entrepreneurs may need to realize that not just acquiring the financial capital will help them survive; rather, developing their capabilities through continuous learning will help them grow and survive. In other words, more money may not always be enough—capabilities are the key.”

Beyond the Carson College experience

After she earns her doctorate, Srivastava plans to continue building her research portfolio while growing her career in academia, drawing inspiration from faculty-to-student interactions. “I would like to pursue my faculty career doing research and remaining engaged with students. I draw a lot of insights by interacting with the students; hence, I plan to join a school with a balanced focus on research and teaching,” she says.

As for advice she’d give to others considering a doctoral program in business, Srivastava says the Carson College of Business has great opportunities for prospective PhD students. “It has a very research-active faculty and supportive PhD student cohort. You will not only learn a lot but also enjoy a family-like environment.”

Learn more about Carson College of Business graduate programs here.