Saïd Business School students selected for influential global innovation lab
Alyssa Ely, Eva Hoffmann, Sandra Posern, Tara Ramanthan, Shruthi Vijayakumar and Sarah Young have been selected for UNLEASH, a global non-profit initiative that brings together 1,000 innovators from across the world to work towards the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s iteration takes place in Singapore from 30 May to 6 June. The MBAs were selected from thousands of applicants for the initiative, which will be attended by the Prime Minister of Singapore, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate José Ramos-Horta, and several high-level UN officials.
The delegates will work in teams on real-life challenges based on eight SDGs: Zero Hunger, Good Health, Quality Education, Clean Water, Affordable and Clean Energy, Sustainable Cities and Communities, Responsible Supply Chain and Consumption, and Climate Action. Each team’s aim is to create a draft solution for presentation to a panel of judges, who will choose five winners.
Hailing from New York, Eva Hoffmann is a Social Impact Designer who has led human-centered design projects across the world. She describes the SDGs as ‘extremely complex and ambitious,’ and stresses that initiatives such as UNLEASH are essential if the goals are to be achieved.
‘I am so excited to be in a space where such bright minds can focus on each other, explore new possibilities, and have genuine, curious, generative, open-minded conversations. It's a perfect formula for building synergies that change the world,’ she said.
Despite being an expert in clean energy, Eva will be working on SDG 2: Zero Hunger. ‘I felt that facilitating in a field I know so intimately might actually make me biased towards the solutions I've spent years working with,’ she explained. ‘I can't wait for all the interesting and inspiring discussions I'll have.’
Sandra Posern has a background in strategy consulting at Monitor Deloitte but intends to transfer to the international development sector after her MBA. ‘I need to obtain in-depth knowledge about the challenges of this sector and UNLEASH will provide me with exactly that. Furthermore, it is a great networking opportunity to get to know people in the space,’ she said. Sandra believes the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals will only be achievable if the public and private sectors work together. ‘As a business person, I can bring this perspective to the table,’ she said.
Tara Ramanthan began her social impact career after time spent as a teacher in California, which brought her into contact with the ‘systemic issues’ caused by inner city poverty that she felt unable to solve as a teacher. Realising she needed to step outside of the classroom and into a full time social impact career, Tara worked for a non-profit Human Rights organisation, before joining Nextleaf Analytics as Program Director.
Tara’s work is now focused on helping rural communities in India access and use efficient cooking stoves. ‘Everyday, nearly 3 billion people cook food on stoves made by hand… this practice creates harmful smoke which gets trapped inside their homes,’ explained Tara. ‘Exposure to these fumes kills more than 4 million people every year, and the black carbon produced by the bio fuel is the second largest contributor to climate change. My hope in joining UNLEASH is to uncover a solution to scale clean cooking to 3 billion people.’
A Global Shapers Scholar, Coach, Facilitator and Strategist, Shruthi Vijayakumar has a passion for purpose driven business, and she enrolled at Oxford Saïd due to the School’s strong focus on responsible business practices.
‘I believe there is huge potential and power in bringing together people from different backgrounds and experiences to work collectively on “wicked problems,” said Shruthi. ‘I'm excited by the sheer energy and potential of UNLEASH, which will see around 1000 young people come together with a shared goal. One of the enablers of innovation is diverse perspectives and viewpoints and this initiative provides an invaluable opportunity for diverse people to come together, learn together, and create new innovations that we could not conceptualise alone.'