Intern in Action: Puneet Ruparel

Puneet Ruparel
Puneet Ruparel

Puneet is a rising second year GMBA student and the Founder & President of Johns Hopkins Carey's Business of Entertainment Club (BoE). Recently, he won the prestigious "Johns Hopkins Brand Ambassador Award" for advancing and promoting the brand of the Johns Hopkins University & the Carey Business School in an outstanding way. Puneet has 10+ years of experience in Entertainment & Entrepreneurship. He has a diverse background in business and arts that gives him a unique understanding of how to come up with creative solutions for making strategic decisions. Post graduation, Puneet is looking to get into business strategic consulting or business development roles to hone his skills.

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“All set?” Josh asked me. I nodded and took the front seat in the car.

On my drive to LAX airport, I reminisced about the past two months in LA as an intern. It has been a journey. I visited new places, met new people, got a new company on my resume but the highlight of my trip has been the learning at PPI Releasing.

Three weeks into my internship, Joshua Raphealson, Owner the director of PPI Releasing, LLC, took me wine tasting. While sipping on Pinot Noir, Pinot Grigio and Chandelle, I asked Josh, “Why did you hire me?” He was a little surprised by my question. However, I always wondered what makes anyone decide who is good and who isn’t on a piece of paper. For me, a resume doesn’t do justice to the capabilities of a person.  Who among these would you think is more capable:

An individual working in a corporation of thousand employees & overseeing a growth of 1 million revenue annually

OR

An individual running his own company & making $100,000 revenue annually?

So for me, it was an important question and I had to ask him. He took another sip, kept his wine glass down and started with one of his favorite, “I don’t know.”

He went on, “I remember when I received a call from Chris [Aldrich, a Hopkins alumnus] in February and he said there are a bunch of people from Hopkins who are visiting Hollywood as part of their career trek and would like to meet me. I was quite intrigued, especially because I am in entertainment and I haven’t heard anyone from Hopkins interested in entertainment. When we met the following day, I was quite intrigued by your insight and your hunger to learn more. Also, later, when I learned that you are a trained dancer, were a director of a company, and have worked on international projects, I knew that you would be a good kid.”

Saying that he ordered another wine. He never mentioned anything about it ever again. I was a little too embarrassed at that time to ask more but it had me thinking. So what makes me qualified and does GPA matter?

Let’s look at my responsibilities over the summer:

  • I helped the company analyze the Nielsen ratings and came up with strategic ways to correct the ratings if the ratings were bad
  • I analyzed the current trend of Indian content in the US market and ran the financial modelling for the new content
  • I helped launch the marketing tool based on big data named Social-Edge and was admin for the company’s biggest show, “Just for Laugh Gags”
  • I sourced content of around $550,000 from the Indian market (probably highlight of my tenure).

But really, did it matter if my GPA was 4 or 3.5 or even 2? Did it matter if I topped my class or not? Regardless of my performance at school, I still delivered what I was supposed to deliver. My dad didn’t get an MBA, and yet, he is one of the savviest businessmen I have ever met.

So what really matters. A, A- or B?

I think I have found the answer: GPA does matter but not the traditional GPA. It isn’t about what your Grade Point Average (GPA) is but about what you are Greatly Passionate About (GPA). This is the GPA that makes all the difference in the world.

Most who start on a degree will finish it, but what matters is if we can pursue our passion. Sure, if you are passionate about your grades, enjoy studying hard and be the valedictorian, but if you are passionate about dance, then pursue it. Passionate about entertainment, pursue it; passionate about sports, bloody pursue it. Because that’s the GPA that matters.

Everything in my resume that Josh saw, or any of my previous employers have seen, they knew that I did because I was passionate about it, whether it was representing India in the Commonwealth in dance or working on Masterchef or taking over as director of my company or deciding to come to Hopkins.

I remember I had the pleasure of meeting Digvijay Singh, senior Strategic Sourcing Specialist at Warner Bros. He asked me where I get the drive from and if I am scared I will fail. I told him I’m not scared of failing but I am scared of losing the drive and losing the passion.

This was my realization as an intern at PPI Releasing.

I also utilized the free time I had in LA. When not at PPI Releasing, I met business-facing professionals from the entertainment sector. From Netflix, to Paramount, to Warner Brothers, to Disney, to Nokia, to NBC Universal, to Maker Studios, to PwC, to Deloitte–it amazes me to see how willing professionals are to meet students and share their experiences. I connected with Benjamin Maggin and Liz Kelly, Hopkins alumni. I was invited to a private screening of Suicide Squad at Warner Bros.’ private Stephen J Ross theater. I was also fortunate enough to be invited at the Red Carpet of Los Angeles Independent Film Festival Awards. I spent time with Aatmaja Desai, Andrew Hinton, and Jade Dai, fellow Carey students who visited LA on the weekends. On July 30th, at mid-night, I attended the launch party of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

During my last week in LA, Josh invited me for dinner with his family. As the director of the company, Josh even dropped me at the airport when I was leaving. There were instances when Josh asked me to accompany him to important meetings and asked me to share my thoughts. Once, after a meeting, he advised, “You should work on your pitch. You can offer much more than I had imagined.” It was one thing I was happy about – to have created such a relationship with Josh that could transcend the professional relationship.

At LAX airport, I shook Josh’s hand. “Safe travels, Puneet.” He said with a smile on his face. I shook his hand and thanked him for his wonderful mentorship. He drove away.

Not only did I find a new company to add on my resume but I had also found a new mentor in Josh.

This is for you, Josh. Thank you.

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