It’s a little incredible that I get to live in this city and experience the unfathomable, and probably the most desired realm of opportunities and learnings, that Oxford is.
Oxford, in itself, is a whole incredible world and Oxford Saïd is a gem in that world that opened its doors to me as a platform to embark on a beautiful journey of learning and collaboration. It’s not an easy decision to pack your whole life into three suitcases and travel to a part of the world miles and miles away from your family and friends, the comfort zone and all that is called a home. However, the first week has allowed me a peep into another world, which is as welcoming and beautiful as the one back home. To put it as precisely as I can, it’s like a parallel realm where individuals from different parts of the world have come together to create something beautiful for themselves and others in conjunction with the most eccentric and intellectual minds (the team at Oxford Saïd) who welcomed us into this parallel universe and made each one of the diverse personalities feel like we already belong here.
Sharing a little glimpse into my life before Oxford, I grew up in a small city in Punjab, where the generation before me, particularly the women, carried the weight of discrimination disallowing them access to something as basic as education. Though it was difficult for her, my mother provided me unflinching support to keep educating myself and become financially independent.
I grew up in a society wherein everyone asked my mother about the amount of money she had saved (‘dowry’ – a social norm wherein a monetary gift is paid to the groom as a prerequisite to getting married into a good family) to marry her daughter. She never gave any consideration to such questions and proudly declared that the savings were only for her daughter’s education and personal development. She hustled to give me the best of education and experience and made sure that we did not fall short of any opportunity just because we were girls. She even took the tough decision to send her 17-year-old daughter to study business in a different part of India and gave her full freedom to pursue her dreams.
I became the first person in my family to pursue a college degree and join the corporate world. Growing in such an environment has made me extremely resilient & more committed to making every opportunity count.
Capturing the learnings from my journey, I started a women-mentorship club in college and mentored 25 young girls in their academic and professional journey. I also worked with an Non Government Organisation (NGO) to impart education and skills to underprivileged women and children in slums of Delhi. Carrying the same spirit to corporate world, I spearheaded various initiatives to empower women in their trajectory to the business world and provided resources to upskill women to undertake leadership positions in the professional sphere. I will continue to make an impact both in the social sphere and lead diversity and inclusion initiatives in my future trajectory.
I am grateful to have worked with two market leading organizations, each of which provided me with a distinct toolkit. I started with an S&P Global Market Intelligence after my graduation as a Research Analyst but ventured into the role of a Project Manager in six months, establishing my hold in different technical areas – from data analytics to product management and automation. Along side this, I completed a Financial Risk Management professional qualification that equipped me with expertise in the credit, market, operational and investment risk domains. I pivoted into investment consulting with Mercer, managing the retirement benefit accounts and providing consulting services to 15 large clients from different domains (16Bn GBP assets under advisement) along with environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) analysis, while also managing a team of seven analysts. Through this, I have acquired the skills such as client engagement, understanding client business and investment challenges while offering tailored solutions, creating value added for the clients and resource management.
My goal post-MBA is to continue to work in consulting, but with a pivot from investment consulting to management consulting. Subsequently, my long-term goal is to build a consulting firm, aimed at providing effective solutions to small to medium sized enterprises in India. With knowledge of how to translate best-practices from one context to another, my prior work in consulting will be invaluable to my entrepreneurial dream.
Being at Oxford Saïd is, to me, not just a means to an end, (the end being career-growth) or a dream come true, but a chance to become a more impactful member of the business and social community.