Business and brotherhood: siblings sync MBA

Brothers Suraj and Niraj Ranjit, born in Nepal five years apart, graduated together this week, fulfilling a shared goal.

Suraj and Niraj Ranjit
Suraj and Niraj Ranjit

“I remember it vividly,” says Suraj Ranjit of the moment he bid farewell to his childhood home in Nepal and embarked on a new chapter in Australia.

It was 2003. Suraj was nine, and his big brother Niraj was 14.

“We landed on Friday night and started school on Monday.”

Seventeen years later, after moving to Aotearoa and completing their undergraduate studies, ambition, academic influence and coincidental timing saw the brothers enrol in the same MBA cohort at the University of Auckland Business School.

Studying together wasn’t the plan, although Niraj and Suraj had considered the MBA programme for years. They had discussed it over dinner with their parents and partners on several occasions, but both were waiting for the right time to enrol.

“It requires a lot of commitment from everyone in your life - your support network, family, partner and employer,” says Niraj, who graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Engineering (Civil) in 2010 and has worked in the industry since.

“I wanted to take my time to ensure I was in the right place and had enough experience to do the MBA, which has quite unique requirements. So, I considered it for a few years, and then it just happened that Suraj and I enrolled for the same cohort.”

Suraj and Niraj with their mum Dr Jagamaya Shrestha-Ranjit, and dad, Dr Nabin Ranjit
Suraj and Niraj with their mum Dr Jagamaya Shrestha-Ranjit, and dad, Dr Nabin Ranjit

Suraj graduated with a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) from Waipapa Taumata Rau in 2014 and has since held roles as a software developer and project manager.

Throughout their careers, the brothers became more interested in business development, project management, strategy and commerce. The MBA enabled them to develop skills in those areas and acted as a catalyst for learning and career progression.

As they embarked on the MBA with the support of their families and employers, Niraj and Suraj say they consciously decided to focus on working with other students in their cohort.

“We didn’t want to spend 18 months of our lives and pay the fees to network with each other – we can do that at home over the dinner table!” says Niraj. “So, we spent a big chunk of the MBA trying to work with other students.”

Eventually, however, the brothers found themselves in the same group for their capstone project. Their cohort also travelled to South Korea where the brothers and their classmates visited businesses including Google and IBM.

“We’ve known each other all our lives, so we have a level of trust and a solid way of communicating,” says Suraj. “We’re comfortable giving honest feedback and criticism to one another, and we can do so in Nepali. We didn’t have to hold back, so that was productive.”

Suraj and Niraj Ranjit
The brothers in Busan, South Korea

University was always on the radar for the brothers who were born in Kathmandu and whose parents instilled in them the value of tertiary education.

“Mum was a nurse back home, and she was awarded a scholarship to do her Master of Nursing in Melbourne, which is why we moved,” says Suraj, whose name means sun in Nepali.

The brothers’ dad, Nabin, was a practising doctor in Nepal. After moving to Australia and subsequently New Zealand, he continued working in the health sector. Meanwhile, mum, Jagamaya, went on to get her PhD from Melbourne University while living in Aotearoa.

“They followed their careers and worked hard to inspire us and to build a better future for the family,” says Niraj.

This week, Nabin and Jagamaya’s eyes were trained on Niraj and Suraj as they crossed the stage to accept their MBAs.

Graduating together, says Suraj, was an opportunity to celebrate as a family.

“It was all about celebrating the support network around us. It was also convenient for everyone to attend just one graduation ceremony for both of us!”

Media contact:

Sophie Boladeras I Media adviser
M: 022 4600 388