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UW Crest with engineering background
October 31, 2022

Michelle Ranavat: 2022 Early Career Award recipient

Written By: Staff

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Michelle Ranavat

Michelle Ranavat BSIE ‘03 (MS ‘04, engineering management, Tufts University)
Founder and CEO, RANAVAT

We are honoring Michelle as an industrial engineer and entrepreneur who combined her passion for engineering, ancient traditions and personal care to found a luxury beauty products company that also funds education initiatives in rural India.

Why did you choose engineering?

When I first started, I wanted to become a chemical engineer, because my dad is a chemist. I thought that if I proved myself and could get an engineering degree that it would give me a strong foundation. I started as a chemical engineer, but then I discovered industrial engineering. I was so happy that I ended up rethinking, because it is so much more my passion, and so much more in tune with what drew me to engineering—the idea of manufacturing and quality.

What are some of your best memories from your time at UW-Madison?

We did a lot of IIE field trips; we went to South Dakota to do a paper presentation, and I was the representative. I got to present my findings over the summer internship I did. A lot of my memories are fun partying memories, which is good. When I think about college, I remember how hard it was, but I also remember how much fun I had with everyone and how people were honestly so kind. Everyone was collaborative. We worked super hard, but when it came to having fun, we didn’t skimp on that either. I looked at a lot of people’s college experiences and it was so one-dimensional and I think wow, I feel like I didn’t sacrifice in any place.

What advice would you give students today?

You’re in the right place! Manufacturing, supply chain, economic uncertainty: Clearly, those are huge themes in the current environment, and IEs are very specially equipped to deal with those things. They’re an absolute asset to any organization. You can apply your IE degree to pretty much anything in any industry. So be creative and tie what you are passionate about with your skill set, and I think that you’re going to really be in a much stronger position. The IE skill set today is more valuable than it’s ever been.

What kind of impact do you hope you’ve had through your work?

I grew up not seeing South Asian culture or beauty represented in mainstream retail, or even in general. To have it be a part of the conversation, to see my kids grow up with these traditions easily accessible and celebrated, I think is really exciting. I see the connection that people have with the brand all around the world. I want to continue to give people that emotion or that connection. It’s also just as much a mission of mine to bring non-South Asians into the fold, and show the ingredients and traditions, so people can understand each other better.

Anyone you’d like to mention?

My husband is Anil Ranavat and my kids are Shay and Aiden Ranavat. I have a really robust friend circle, and we champion each other in life. Family is hugely important to me, whether it be my own nuclear family or my parents and in-laws. That’s really what I like to do. I don’t have too much time outside of work and sometimes work is basically my life, but those are the experiences that I genuinely live for—my connection with that group of people.