Meet The MBA Class of 2021: Sanya Rajpal, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Sanya Rajpal

University of Oxford, Saïd Business School

Passionate about individual transformation for systematic change, radically hopeful and perpetually silly. Global Citizen.”

Hometown: A little bit from everywhere! Bath, UK.

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am happiest when I’m near water, love puns, and practise Buddhism.

Undergraduate School and Major:

Undergraduate: Law LLB (Hons) – University of Bristol

Graduate: Education and International Development – IOE, University College London

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: United Nations (UNCTAD): Youth Programmes and Policy Co-ordinator

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Oxford Saïd’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? Just as business exists within and responds to the demands of society, I wanted a business school that was firmly situated within an academic institution. That way, I could engage and learn from a diverse group of students/academics. Additionally, having worked in development for a very long time, I wanted to be somewhere that “Social Impact” was a genuine focus. This would require a focus on both individual transformation/leadership development and systems change.

With this in mind, Oxford became the best choice.

What is the most “Oxford” thing you have done so far as a full-time MBA student? Strangely, most of my “Oxford” things have to do with water: punting on the river with friends, picnicking with classmates in Port Meadow, jumping into the freezing cold river and having mulled wine to heat-up, and going on endless walks by the canals while having fascinating conversation.

Oxford is known as a place where world collides, be it in the classroom or the dining hall. What has been the most interesting interaction you’ve had so far as an Oxford MBA student? Honestly, I’d say most of my interactions have been interesting. Starting off with the MBA cohort, it’s been a pleasure to engage with such a diverse and dynamic group of young people who are bringing their unique perspectives to our classes, case studies, and conversations. Of course, because of lockdowns, we haven’t been able to do this in the traditional way, or on the same scale, which is such a shame! However, everyone I’ve met has been interesting and engaging.

In a broader sense, through my accommodation and college, I’ve had some fascinating encounters, such as chatting with a monk about centuries-old books over dinner, and a DPhil about his adventures with a legitimate spy.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I’ve been working on development projects since I was 14, over 10 years at this point. I did this as an activist, entrepreneur, consultant and, most recently, at the UN.

I think my biggest accomplishment is that I’ve been able to constantly identify the limitations or problems that exist around me, and seek to create meaningful change. This habit has lead me to create policy/programs at a national and international levels, but also allowed me to advocate for others in UK’s Parliament, and at UN-Level as an advocate and speaker.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Once the global pandemic escalated last spring, pre-programme, a group MBAs decided to explore leadership during the crisis and what it would take for MBA students to be prepared for the post-pandemic. These initial conversations (coupled with lots of conversations with University leadership, patience and time) have led to me co-founding a new Alliance within the business school focused on leadership development for navigating change. This alliance addressed both immediate crises and long-term systemic change through gaining interdisciplinary knowledge on key global issues and self-reflective personal development.This allowed everyone, regardless of their professional futures, to become inclusive and dynamic leaders who can lead the way into a better future.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I only applied to Oxford. I knew that it was the right combination of academic excellence, an environment of amazing people, and afocus on social impact. I felt like it was the right place for me to learn, develop my skills and build a powerful network.

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? It’s good open up to people and be honest and share truths about your life. It leads to incredibly meaningful conversations, wonderful supportive relationships, and possible collaborations. Building and sharing trust is everything.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.