Please tell us about yourself

MBA student Akansha Murarka is getting a first-hand look at what goes on behind the scenes in Facilities Management (FM). As the student business analyst for the waste management and recycling program for UH (University of Houston), her job has taken her straight to the source where she has had to spend several days riding in the waste and recycling trucks to monitor the routes.

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Murarka was hired in January 2012 to help analyze the solid waste and recycling programs in order to make them more efficient and cost effective. She reports directly to Michael Burriello, Assistant Director of Central Plants and Mechanical Equipment for Facilities Management.

Tell us about your work

Burriello said Murarka has block-diagrammed the operations for solid waste and recycling and has projected revenue flows from both processes. He said she is utilizing currently available information from the FM staff as well as solid waste and recycling vendors to generate these baselines.

“Akansha’s knowledge of business processes has given the Facility Maintenance Sustainability Team valuable insight into the current state, or baseline, of our solid waste and recycling operations,” Burriello said. “In order to gather some of the information Akansha had to get ‘down and dirty,’ traveling with the dumpster crews for several days to gather route and loading data, but has not had to resort to ‘dumpster diving.’ Yet! Akansha is enjoyable to work with and provides us with new insights into our old operations. I look forward to working with Akansha as our Sustainability efforts move forward.”

Murarka said she has actually enjoyed riding in the trucks and asking lots of questions to get her analysis.

“It’s a new hands-on experience for me because this is how you get the practical experience seeing how people actually work in the field. It’s been really challenging,” she said.

Murarka said they are in the initial phase of their assessment but are coming up with a plan on what they can achieve in a short period of time in order to make recycling on campus a profitable business.

How will your work benefit the community?

“Akansha has been a great asset to the sustainability committee,” said Paul Brokhin, Utility and Sustainability Coordinator for Facilities Management. “Her research in the field of recycling allowed for the university to set goals for improvement of not only the diversion rate, but financially as well. She successfully was able to identify key elements that must be addressed. While the recycling program still needs improvement, big steps have been taken thanks to Akansha’s contribution and insight.”

Tell us about your educational background

Murarka is currently studying energy investment and supply chain at Bauer College of Business and will receive her master’s degree in May 2012. She received her bachelor’s degree in electronics engineering at Pune University in India and decided to return to school in order to learn the business aspect of her field.

How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?

“I always wanted to be an engineer since I was 6 or 7. There was just no other option for me,” Murarka said.

Murarka said she likes taking on challenges and working hard and currently balances 20 hours of work with four courses. While in India after graduation, she worked for Infosys Technologies Ltd as a software engineer. Then before her current position, she was working as the Instructional Assistant for an Operation Management course in supply chain at Bauer where she managed about 800 students.

She moved to Houston after marrying her husband, Mayanak Murarka. The couple had an arranged marriage where they only spoke three times before the wedding and have now been happily married for 3 years. She said she loves living in Houston because of the warm weather.

Akansha also enjoys sports and said she played badminton, table tennis and cricket in high school. She continued on with cricket in college where she was the team captain for her engineering team. She said she still loves keeping up with the sport on television whenever possible.

“I love watching cricket, it’s awesome. It is a long game, about seven hours, and I sit up all night and still watch it,” she said.

Murarka said she wants to work in the energy sector after graduation and hopes to have a chance of working in waste management and sustainability. She has become a valuable asset to the University of Houston team and is sure to have a very promising future ahead of her.