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American anthropologist Zora N Hurston once rightly pointed out that "Research is formalised curiosity. It is poking and prying with a purpose".

FLAME alumna Swetha Murali has directed her purpose towards many things relevant. The mix of foundational theory courses, regional studies, political science, history, and foreign policy fueled Swetha’s interest in policy making and research, endowing her with a well-balanced lens to view the world. 

Pursuing her interest opened up a plethora of career opportunities, landing her in the corporate world, primarily considered a playground for MBA holders. It is mostly the undergraduate program at FLAME that laid the foundation for an MA in International Economics & IR from Johns Hopkins University. She had the benefit of being able to dig deeper and ask the right questions stemming from a strong foundation developed during her time at FLAME.

Swetha owes a big part of her acceptance into the prestigious graduate MA programme to the recommendations, guidance, and support of the FLAME faculty.

When asked about her perspective on the significance of research, she lays emphasis on its absence, leading to the weakness of any foundation. She reiterates that even in business development, research is crucial for her to understand the customer’s needs, comparing one’s business with competition. This also includes researching the competitor’s strengths and weaknesses as well as the policy ecosystem that governs any industry, especially since she works in the detail-oriented sector as that of defence and space.

That said, she was always inclined towards research. Her classes on qualitative and quantitative research methodology greatly impacted her knowledge base. The guidance she received under Prof. Dalia Wahdan and Prof. Santhosh Kudtarkar further fueled her drive in data gathering and enhanced her critical thinking skills.

As a Research Assistant with the Centre for Policy Research, she has worked with one of India's leading military historians, Dr. Srinath Raghavan. With Dr. Srinath, she gained exposure to archival research and a more practical application of the IR theories learned at FLAME. She also got to meet some of the brightest academic minds in the field, which inspired her to pursue a graduate degree. 

As she further progressed, she worked at Invest India - the investment promotion and facilitation cell under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. She chose to work with the aerospace and defence team, which required her to develop the ability to comprehend policy, geopolitics, and military strategy.

Her next and current role at Airbus Defence and Space has further helped combine all of these abilities. As a result, she gains the chance of witnessing cutting-edge technology, interacting with some of the finest officers of the Indian Armed Forces; humble yet brilliant scientists from ISRO; the sharpest bureaucrats from the Government of India; and, of course, her inspiring fun and like-minded colleagues.