Meet the Oxford MBA Class of 2021-22: Sandeep T D S

7 minute read
Sandeep T D S

We are excited to welcome the Oxford MBA Class of 2021-2022 to Oxford this September. Get to know our incoming students in this blog post series as they prepare to join Saïd Business School.

Tell us about yourself

  • Sector/Industry you worked in pre-MBA: Technology
  • Sector/Industry you are hoping to work in post-MBA: Technology, Strategy or Consulting
  • Country of residence before coming to Oxford: India
  • College: Harris Manchester College

I chose Harris Manchester College because it allows me to mingle with brilliant people pursuing different subjects at Oxford. With a minimum student age of 21, I am excited to learn about theology, medicine, law and other subjects without worrying about feeling ancient.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that the college is just a 15-minute walk away from the School.

In one word, how would your best friend describe you and how would your manager describe you?

  • Best friend: Affable
  • Manager: Empathetic

Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford and, more specifically, the Oxford MBA.

I was born in a tiny town in India but was moved to the country’s capital within a month. As the son of an Indian Naval Officer and a homemaker, I’ve grown up in nine cities across India. There’s a running joke in my family that my upbringing has been so all over the place that I speak my mother tongue as a second language. I am grateful for my childhood, as it imprinted the importance of being multicultural at a tender age.

As an undergrad, I studied Computer Science Engineering. From founding an environment club through to an international exchange programme and publishing the university’s first-ever annual magazine, activities both inside and outside the classroom made my four-year journey unforgettable.

In fact, the seed for taking my MBA was laid here as I understood that I enjoy collaborating with people to bring ideas to life.

Upon graduation, I joined SAP, an enterprise software manufacturer, as a software developer. As part of my employment, SAP sponsored my master’s in software engineering. While I worked full-time during weekdays and studied during the weekends, I enjoyed the hustle as it allowed me to implement my learnings in the real world instantly.

My professional experience solidified my desire to do an MBA as the value of implementing skills acquired through an MBA became apparent.

Three years ago, I got an opportunity to transition into product management. This was the goal all along! Within a few months, I could identify that I needed to upskill myself to be more impactful at work. That’s when I started actively shortlisting MBA programmes.

Since I wanted to accelerate in my field, a one-year programme had a higher value proposition than the two-year ones. My involvement with the Diversity and Inclusion arm of SAP encouraged me to join a programme that brought people from different walks of life across the world together. Saïd Business School instantly shot to the top of my list.

Speaking to the people associated with the School sealed the deal for me. Not only did I want to be around people like them, but I also wanted to become like them.

What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?

There are so many things you can do at Saïd Business School. Thus, I’ve spent most of my time reflecting internally. What are my aspirations, what inspires me, what are my boundaries, and 'why am I being so philosophical' (*sheepish grin*)? Eventually, it came down to building lasting friendships, designing an impactful career, and creating unforgettable memories.

I’ve been talking to as many people as I can…members of the alumni community, my MBA peers and college mates. I’ve also engaged with the unbelievably resourceful Career Service team to identify areas/roles of interest. I’ve also tried to get more organised but, alas, there’s still some way to go. Hopefully, in my MBA reflections blog, I’ll be satisfied with my progress.

Finally, I’ve been polishing my cooking skills. I just hope that a vegetarian menu is inviting enough for me to share my culture and learn about others.

What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?

I am hoping to break out of the technology bubble!

I’ve done my undergrad and postgrad in computer science and spent six years developing and managing core technical products. While I would like to accelerate my career in tech, I am aware of a world that exists outside of my bubble.

Through classes, projects and interactions with my peers, I hope to gain perspective that would ordinarily take a lifetime.

I want to empower people with technology that helps them unlock their potential and achieve their goals. To be able to do that, I must commit to learning, unlearning, and re-learning.

What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?

'Say yes even if it scares you.'

I was catching up with my school friend. She broke the news of her upcoming nuptials and me about my MBA. Perhaps she was drawing from the recent events in her life when she advised me to say yes to new experiences, even if they scare me.

I’ve said yes to leaving my first job ever, said yes to living abroad for the first time, and yes to reinventing myself.

When I’ve said yes the first time to so many things to get to Oxford, it only stands to reason that I continue along this path.

Do you have any advice about the Oxford MBA application process for candidates thinking of applying?

Engage! Engage! Engage!

One overwhelming reason for my arrival at Oxford is the people I got to interact with. Listening to the experiences of people with such diverse backgrounds and interests helped me understand the programme better.

I implore people considering an Oxford MBA to reach out to the students who’ve gone/are going through the experience. I especially want to give a shout-out to – Abhishek, Alex, Jazeb (class of 2021), Mohak, Snigdha (2020), Ecem, Manureet (2019), Mayank (2017), and Geetanjali (2016). Also, having spoken to some of my peers, I can undoubtedly endorse them as people you would definitely like to chat with.

What part of the programme are you most looking forward to?

For the past few years, I have harboured a desire to start a venture. While I don’t have an idea that improves people’s lives yet, I don’t want to squander the opportunity. At Oxford, I plan to orbit around the vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem, hoping to be inspired and possibly for brilliance to strike.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?

What’s been keeping me up in the night for the past few months is the possibility of not forming a meaningful bond with the people I meet at Oxford. Oxford brings together brilliant people from across the world, giving me an unrivalled opportunity to experience the world in a minute’s walk. I want to nurture meaningful relationships, allowing me to pick up the phone and ring my pals up even four decades later.

How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?

In 2018, I joined an employee resource group focusing on LGBTQIA+ topics. The experience embarrassed me in terms of how little I knew about the people around me. Leading various diversity and inclusion efforts has opened my world and made me a more empathetic human being.

At the School, I want to expand on my learnings, preparing myself to foster an inclusive spirit in the diverse teams I build as I evolve in my career.

Are there any sports teams, societies or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?

'Mom! Please! Can’t I take a scoop of all the ice cream flavours?'

I can’t find a better way of summing up the debilitating process of identifying just a few things to do.

I’m hoping that the vibrant entrepreneurship ecosystem at Oxford rubs off on me. So you may find me lurking around Oxford Foundry, the Entrepreneurship Centre, Oxford Seed Fund, and the Creative Destruction Lab.

I also look forward to meeting fellow tech enthusiasts through the Technology OBN, learning from the experts at the Consulting OBN (Oxford Business Network), and collaborating with Pride@SBS members.

My doors will also always be open if someone wishes to play Monopoly, Risk, Game of Life, Uno or a new board game of your choice.

Finally, I look forward to shedding a few kilos by playing the sport I love the most – cricket.