Meet The Oxford Saïd MBA Class Of 2017

Naman Sanghvi

University of Oxford, Saïd Business School

Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Passionate about Renewable Energy. Driven to have Impact. Aspiring Author. Sports Enthusiast. Love people. Good Friend.

Hometown: Mumbai/Ahmedabad, India

Fun Fact About Yourself:

  • I co-hold a Limca Record (India’s Guinness Record) for the “longest plastic refill chain.” The refill chain is an environment/art project of empty used pen refills interlocked to form a chain. The chain is ~120m long and comprises of ~3600 refills.
  • I queued up in the famed “Wimbledon public line” to tick off an item of my bucket list. Luckily, the line did move, and I got to watch a Wimbledon Final in Centre court for 10 Pounds! To top it off, Sania Mirza came back from behind to win those Finals. 

Undergraduate School and Major: VIT University: Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Engineering, with a specialization in Energy

Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation: I spent 5 years at CLP Wind Farms India (India subsidiary of ~$20B CLP Holdings Group, one of Asia-Pacific’s largest power utilities), where I was a Business Development Manager focusing on growing the Renewable Energy portfolio.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:I find great joy in giving back and contributing to my community in all ways, but especially by contributing knowledge gained through my professional work in energy.

I have volunteered with several energy/sustainability non-profits. For example, I helped European-based students launch an environment carbon-footprint initiative in India and helped an energy non-profit find content partners for its energy blog. I try to help youth better understand the evolving global clean-energy landscape by writing about clean-energy issues in various international publications such as the “Berkeley Energy & Resources Collaborative”. I also serve as an Assistant Editor for “Your Commonwealth” (The Commonwealth’s official youth publication), contributing to the dialogue on sustainability and development issues on this global platform.

I am keen on continuing to contribute to my community and addressing energy challenges. I am particularly excited to learn from the ‘Oxford Martin School’ about global development challenges and how we can all become more socially conscious and integrated individuals.

Looking back on your experience, what advice would you give to future business school applicants?

GMAT: Get this out of the way as early as possible (even a year or two in advance). Fall in love with the exam – Treat the exam as a way to understand how you think;  sharpen problem-solving skills (hint: Critical Reasoning section); and improve your ability to manage pressure and time. Enjoying the process will help you stay consistent with preparation and eventually improve your mock scores. 

Application: Please do not rush this. Give yourself a focused 3-6 months at least to work on the entire application. The application asks you to convey important life experiences (and in most applications, your entire life) in a couple of hundred words. Give yourself quality time to think hard and deep. Be strategic and specific about what you convey. Nothing kills a great story more than generic clichés that can be applicable to anyone.

Interview: Dress smartly. Be on time. Do a couple of mocks (even with people who do not know you well) to prepare yourself mentally. Smile!

What led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA? I chose Oxford Saïd because I feel a tremendous sense of belonging to the school. In fact, Saïd inspired my career in renewable energy.

Back in 2009, as an undergrad student, I was selected to participate in Oxford Saïd’s Youth Business Development Program. Under this program, I was to work in a team on a social problem in my local community and be mentored by 2 Saïd MBAs over five months to develop this project. Field work during the project exposed me to problems of energy access in India and overdependence on polluting sources of energy. One of my Saïd MBA mentors had a renewable energy focus, and he subsequently helped me understand India’s energy challenges from a holistic business and society perspective. This program pushed me to think about world-scale challenges for the first time and was an eye opener on responsible leadership, inspiring me to pursue a non-traditional career path in renewable energy (it was also a plus that my team was a Finalist and ended among Top 4 from among 100 teams).

My interaction with Oxford Saïd did not stop here as the MBA students I worked with became lifetime friends and mentors (in fact, one of the Saïd MBAs also acted as my job referee for my employer). I thus really resonated with the school.

So after spending a couple of years in the renewable energy industry setting up wind and solar energy projects across India, Oxford Saïd was a natural choice when I decided to get an MBA. The program’s various components – working on a global challenge such as Water Markets in Global Opportunities and Threats Oxford (GOTO) module, getting involved with the world-renowned Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, and listening to internationally acclaimed orators at the Oxford Union – are all geared towards creating responsible leaders. Creating responsible business leaders who will tackle world-scale problems is embedded in the program’s DNA.

My journey has been inspired by Oxford Saïd, and coming here to get a MBA was coming full-circle. A sweet homecoming!  

Tell us about your dream job or dream employer at this point in your life? 13 of the world’s top-20 polluted cities are in India. India is the world’s 4th largest polluter and energy consumer, with just 13% of its electricity needs met by renewable energy. Despite this, an Indian population equivalent to that of USA does not have access to energy. Clearly, this is unsustainable.

How do we make affordable energy accessible to everyone? How do we continue catering to the burgeoning energy demands of our population, while ensuring environment sustainability? How can retail markets and increasingly global manufacturing bring cost of clean energy generation down? How can behavioral psychology be leveraged to promote clean energy? I want to help answer some of these questions and use business to address one of India’s energy problems. I aspire to help make clean energy much more mainstream in India than it is today.

What would you like your business school peers to say about you after you graduate from this program? That I have been able to add value to our class and enhance their Oxford experience.

That we created some awesome memories together, both inside the classroom (e.g. work through a group assignment at 3am) and outside the classroom (e.g. pub-crawling and exploring magical Oxford).

That we formed a meaningful bond, and consider me as a lifelong friend.

That I won at least one dance off, and that I was always up for a game of literally anything – be it Rugby Fives, Ultimate Frisbee, or Oxford Quidditch.

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