Asha Scaria Vettoor
Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford
“Trying to balance MBA, friendships, business and 100 other things happening at Oxford, without FOMO.”
Hometown: Kottayam, Kerala, India
Fun fact about yourself: My favorite pastime is making tik-toks with my nieces and nephews, I have 4 of them.
Undergraduate School and Degree: BSc Statistics, St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai.
Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Founder, Swara – Voice of Women
Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? I did not intern during that time. I was building Swara, my social enterprise.
Where will you be working after graduation? I will continue building Swara and expanding the company globally.
Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: Impact Lab participant.
Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? For our module called Entrepreneurship Project, I have mobilized a team with 4 other MBAs to work on building a ready-to-launch business model to make the fashion supply chain more transparent. I’m most excited about how we’re building this idea for a global market and seeing what learnings I can take back to Swara.
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of the individual achievements of our women artisans. I have seen how our work empowers women who have never earned an income before, and the financial freedom they attain and the visible changes that brings to their household and especially their children’s education.
Why did you choose this business school? I first learned about Saïd Business School from an alumni who provided pro-bono consulting for Swara. Gayatri Balan validated my opinion that social impact and business can and should go hand-in-hand to create sustainable solutions to world-scale problems. This idea is what made me follow Saïd Business School and a few years later when I wanted to do an MBA, there was no other school I admired as much I did Saïd Business School.
Who was your favorite MBA professor? Alex Connock, Marketing
What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? I love how the whole cohort comes together to celebrate festivals. From Diwali to Lunar New Year, there is something, from some part of the world that we’re celebrating together.
Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? I have always lived in India. Before the MBA, I didn’t consider how moving to a cold and new country would affect me personally. If I could do it all over again, I would move here a few months prior to the MBA to allow myself to get settled. The MBA is a very taxing, hectic degree and to giving 100% to it requires a lot of personal strength.
What surprised you the most about business school? The diversity of the class. Yes, I had read and heard the statistics of diversity at Saïd Business School but being in the midst of it is overwhelming, in a good way. There are peers around me from all walks of life, speaking in such different accents, with so much empathy towards each other. I’m still in awe of how truly diverse my class is!
What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? Like I mentioned before, I have interacted with alumni of Saïd Business School and that’s why it was my first choice. But I had to speak to alumni from many other schools to compare and make sure I wasn’t making a rash or emotional choice. In the end, after many conversations and comparisons, I was sure that SBS is the right fit for me – where I’m coming from, what I want to learn, and what I wanted to do about the MBA.
Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Princess Agina. She’s an excellent leader with vast experience in the field of education and social impact. She in a co-chair at our Social Impact OBN (Oxford Business Network) and leads from a place of empathy. She’s a source of inspiration for me.
Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Ann Scaria Vettoor – she’s my older sister and an entrepreneur. She started her first enterprise after she had her second child and I’ve seen her struggle, fail, succeed at many points of her journey and eventually start her second one. She pushed me to invest in myself and pursue the MBA when I hit a roadblock in my entrepreneurship journey. Her reasoning was that I had the time to take a break from my career at the point and an MBA at Oxford would give me the knowledge, network, and resources to increase the odds of success in whatever I pursue. She showed me the bigger picture. Without it I had a tunnel vision with only one question always – ‘what do I do with Swara next?’
My mother and father have also been huge sources of motivation to pursue academics.
What are the top two items on your professional bucket list?
* Have a physical office where women, from all walks of life, come and work together and talk. Because I felt like I have created most value in my work when I have had student interns from top fashion schools, like London School of Fashion, come and co-create with rural women artisans. The conversations they have as equals have strengthened my belief that the world will be a better place by creating platforms where people from different socio-economic backgrounds can come together and talk.
* Become a policy maker – someone who’s decision can create systemic change.
How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic has strengthened my values about my work – I truly believe that I’m doing work that matters to the world.
What made Asha such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?
“Asha joined the MBA class as a 2021-22 Skoll Scholar following her remarkable achievement as an entrepreneur who founded and built the sustainable fashion brand, Swara – A Voice for Women. Under Asha’s leadership and vision, Swara has become not just a successful business but also a powerful movement representing the voices and potential of rural women in India.
Asha immersed herself in rural communities to better understand the challenges they faced, and she brings the same curiosity, energy, and drive to the MBA class. Clear on her values and purpose, she displays a strength, resiliency, and drive towards action that inspires her classmates and professors and enriches the entire SBS community.”
Academic Director for the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and Professor of Organisations and Impact
DON’T MISS: MBAS TO WATCH: CLASS OF 2022
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.