Meet Oxford Saïd’s MBA Class Of 2019

Vivek Elluru

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

I’m an ambitious, curious and patient individual always looking to learn and better myself.”

Hometown: Hyderabad, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: A big football fan (Arsenal for life!) since childhood but I never played football even for recreation.

Undergraduate School and Major: Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal University – Biomedical Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Malabar Capital Advisors Private Limited (Boutique Investment Bank) – Associate

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I believe my biggest accomplishment so far has been my smooth transition into finance and becoming a successful investment banker without having studied anything related to finance. My decision to not take up a full time high paying job in tech post my engineering degree and instead opting for a contractual position at EY was one of the best decisions I have taken in my life.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? As I am writing this, the programme has yet to start, but having met over 30 students pre-launch and interacting with several others digitally, the quality that stands out for me clearly amongst my classmates is a willingness to help one another. Our programme being for just a year is very intensive and there is quite a bit of pre-work expected of us. There was a genuine intent amongst everyone to help each other despite having not even met one other.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? The Oxford MBA offers its students something more than just a traditional MBA experience which is what attracted me to the school. The curriculum of the Oxford MBA is unique, and it was an important factor that led me to choose this program. I believe that the curriculum of business education should always reflect the current nature of the business world and the Oxford MBA with its 3 integrative themes shaping today’s business environment of Entrepreneurship, Global Rules of the Game and Responsible Business is giving its students an opportunity to think and engage in stimulating conversations about these themes, with projects such as GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats), welcoming guest speakers and enabling student-run conferences. We need more responsible and socially aware leaders in the world and Oxford MBA is trying to create them.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I am part of the Oxford Finance Lab which is designed to provide financial graduate training that includes practical workshops, financial modeling, real-life case studies, and gives opportunities to network with financial services industry professionals.

I have applied for a director position and am hoping to be a part of the Oxford Seed Fund, which is a student-run investment fund that invests up to £50k in early-stage ventures founded by Oxford students and alumni.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? Since moving into finance after my undergraduate degree, I always thought of pursuing an MBA at some point in my life and I told myself that I will do it the day I feel my learning curve on my job flattens. Then, after 5 years of work experience in valuations and investment banking, I reached a point of comfort in what I was doing. I also spent my entire academic as well as professional life in India, so I was very keen to have global exposure and learn how business is done outside India. I knew there would be a lot I could learn by doing an MBA especially being in a diverse classroom like we have in Oxford.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? Well, having worked at EY in the valuations team, you can bet I did my Excel work to check if the investment will give me good return or not! On a serious note, for me the opportunity to be in the same class with students from 60+ different nationalities and 300+ diverse individuals over the course of 1 year is definitely worth the investment I am making.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I applied to London Business School, Cambridge and National University of Singapore

How did you determine your fit at various schools? I began my research on the schools and their fit for me by first visiting their websites and learning what they are offering, I took in information such as the course outline, faculty profiles, class profile etc. from the websites. Next, I spoke to several current students and alumni over the phone or met them if possible to get a deeper understanding of the school culture and the diversity of classroom. When it came to finance, the strength of the program was also critical for me. I spoke to students who specialized in finance in the various schools to get an insight into what each school offered to students interested in finance. Most schools today have student bloggers, which is a rich source of information for prospective students into what life would look like should they join the program.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I was a below average student until the 6th grade showing, hardly any signs of improvement in academics or extracurriculars. My parents decided to put me in a boarding school in the 7th grade, which completely changed me as a person. The boarding school was built on the principles of an ashram promoting simple, ethical and sustainable living but at the same time offered everything to succeed in academics, sport and extracurricular activities. The school instilled in me discipline, focus, and drive. I thrived in that set-up excelling at both academics and extracurriculars. I spent four years at the boarding school and came out as a better human being. 

What do you plan to do after you graduate? Like most of my class, I am coming into this program with a very open mind. I do know that the role that I take will have something to do with investing and early-stage companies. My focus is also going to be identifying and working for the right boss whom I admire and can learn from.

Where do you see yourself in five years? In 5 years, I see myself being in a senior management position at an early stage startup or an investment fund in the emerging markets.

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