Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Spandana Palaypu, London Business School

Spandana Palaypu

London Business School

“Award-winning entrepreneur with a unique third-culture perspective and a determination to drive impact for underserved communities.”

Hometown: Originally from Hyderabad, Telangana (India) but call Dubai, UAE my home.

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I went on a World Challenge Expedition to Tanzania and did a midnight trek up Mt. Meru (5th-highest peak in Africa) to watch the sun rise behind Kilimanjaro; hands down one of the most breathtaking views and moments.

Undergraduate School and Major: BScEcon (Hons) Business & Management – Aberystwyth University – Graduated with First Class Honours and in the Top 8% of my Cohort (27/356).

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Founder & CEO at ZoEasyan award-winning social enterprise that educates and matches migrant blue-collar job seekers to ethical employment opportunities.

What makes London such a great place to earn an MBA degree? London is a beautiful combination of old and new, a melting pot of cultures, has AMAZING food, and is one of the most advanced business hubs globally. As a social entrepreneur and now an MBA candidate myself, living in London is a dream come true. Not only is it one of the biggest hubs globally for startups and ESG investing (Environmental, Social, and Governance), but also there are so many avenues to explore, innovate and learn from!

The best part is that LBS is at the heart of it all! The MBA Class has the opportunity to create this incredible network, meet with global industry leaders, and put everything that is absorbed in the classroom into practice through the multitude of opportunities that this dynamic city has to offer.

Moreover, living in London will prepare you for life in general. Growth and comfort are two constructs that simply cannot co-exist. As driven MBA candidates, both the LBS MBA and this city as a whole will push us beyond our comfort zones to hit our highest potential. It’s a place where every opportunity is accessible, but WE have to work for it, and the reward is that much more special.

London Business School is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives enhancing the value of your business education over the next two years? The cultural and professional diversity at LBS is so multi-dimensional and inclusive; there are so many students who represent more than one culture (myself included)! There is a fundamental beauty in embracing this because it creates a community that is solution and innovation driven.

As a social entrepreneur in the education and employment space, I am keen to engage with my classmates’ global perspectives because it will teach me how to successfully expand my social enterprise ZoEasy into emerging markets, using concepts like human-centered design to address unique country-specific dynamics. More importantly, it will help me transform ZoEasy’s overall culture through more inclusive structures that can help my team members’ talents shine through!

Diversity and inclusion ensures a wider pool of skills, experience and perspectives, which in turn drives a lot of creativity and cultural awareness – I genuinely can’t wait to see this in action at LBS!

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of London Business School’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I’ve felt like an MBA from LBS would be a perfect fit for me ever since I visited campus back in 2019. There is a certain warmth and sense of community and collaboration that I really loved, and I felt like I belonged. I also met the Director of the Wheeler Institute and the Co-Creator of the Social Impact Hub, who gave me a deeper insight into how purpose-driven the LBS culture is, which was what resonated with me especially as a social entrepreneur.

Moreover, the program has a lot of strong entrepreneurial elements which really pulled me in. For instance, LBS has programs such as LondonCAP, the Newton Venture Program and the Entrepreneur Mentors in Residence, which will give me the opportunity to deep dive into the local startup and Venture Capital ecosystem and pick up best practices to implement within my own social enterprise. I’m also keen to pursue courses such as the Future of Work and collaborate with Professor Lynda Gratton who is a phenomenal entrepreneur and thought leader on Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Strategy.

On a more personal front, LBS also has very strong ties (including a large alumni footprint) with my home base (i.e. the UAE), which is an incredible support system to have!

What course, club or activity excites you the most at London Business School? I’m very eager to join the Entrepreneurship Club and its leadership team! Prior to the MBA, I worked with the LBS Launchpad as a Mentor for their 2021 Cohort and absolutely loved the experience. It gave me a deeper insight into how prominent the entrepreneurship community is at LBS. Even though Demo Day had to be held virtually, you could really see the energy and innovation buzzing around! My mentee was also from the HR Tech Space with a really interesting concept that combined gamified escape rooms with team collaboration & bonding. It was really fulfilling to see him evolve as a Founder over the 12 weeks I spent with him, especially in terms of his pitching skills. I was really proud of his pitch during Demo Day because he managed to overcome his fear of public-speaking.

Using my entrepreneurial experience, I’m keen to expand further on the different Entrepreneurship Programmes at LBS. I have already started exploring some ideas, such as launching a podcast that covers founders across the business cycle, and implementing a platform that can match LBS students to industry experts globally and potential co-founders. That way, I can provide them with resources on all things entrepreneurship.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:

Partnership with Talabat, INJAZ and HSBC (Closer to Heart): The COVID-19 pandemic impacted several industries in the UAE and left many people in the blue-collar space unemployed or on unpaid leave. Stuck for an indefinite period without wages or savings to support themselves or their families, many people in this community were unprepared for such a crisis nor had any financial planning skills to thrive or sustain over the long term.

To counteract the inequity, I facilitated partnerships that would drive the adoption of Financial Literacy training by purpose-driven companies that employ a large blue-collar workforce. ZoEasy became an outreach partner for INJAZ (JA Worldwide’s MENA branch) and HSBC, and successfully piloted their comprehensive Financial Literacy Program with 50 of Talabat UAE’s (Delivery Hero Subsidiary) Riders. All the riders were thoroughly engaged, and came up with a variety of solutions to budget and save, creating a sense of empowerment. This program has now expanded and will go on to encompass Talabat’s fleet of 15,000 riders, establishing a benchmark to scale this across the UAE and eventually make basic Financial Literacy a mandatory part of HR Training for the migrant blue-collar workforce.

Winning the Lead2030 Challenge for UN SDG 4, funded by Credit Suisse: Launched by One Young World and the United Nations, Lead2030 is the largest prize for young leaders impacting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Ever year 10 winners are chosen overall (1 winner per SDG), and funded by a corresponding partner organization. I was chosen as the Winner of the SDG 4 (Quality Education), funded by Credit Suisse. This was ZoEasy’s first major global competition entry, and we ended up winning against 1,200 applications across 100+ countries.

This was a defining moment for ZoEasy because we received a combination of grant funding and exclusive mentorship from Credit Suisse for over 1 year. It was an incredible experience to get first-hand insight and advice from some of their most prominent leaders (e.g. Head of Technology) and departments across the globe, which in turn helped scale our work.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I would recommend The Help by Kathryn Stockett. Though it isn’t a traditional business read, it will always remain a top pick and one of my favourite books. From the strong female characters to different communities coming together, The Help inspires people to stand up for their values and beliefs, and be different even if society says otherwise. What really fascinated me was how these women remained unapologetically themselves regardless of being constantly surrounded by systemic oppression. The sheer grit, guts, determination and organization it takes to come together and spread a message of change at a grassroots level, especially during a time when it was frowned upon, was incredibly moving.

MBA students are very similar in that sense, they are goal-oriented, driven, and determined to leave a mark and create impact, and I think this book embodies and inspires those qualities!

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation?  I founded ZoEasy, a UAE-based social enterprise that educates and matches blue-collar job seekers to dignified employment opportunities via ethical and transparent hiring processes. We focus on sustainable job creation with fair wages, and reducing inequalities by combining technology with Government / Skill Development Partnerships.

In my 5 years as a social entrepreneur, I have dabbled in all areas of business, from the set-up process, to building a team, implementing tech, establishing partnerships, raising funds, and pivoting business models to overcome unpredictable circumstances (the COVID-19 pandemic).

As a result, I have helped establish over 20+ global partnerships with purpose-driven employers, and organizations. These include the One Young World and Area 2071 (Dubai Government Innovation Programme) to drive training and ethical recruitment. I was also named as a Forbes 30 Under 30, raised global awareness via prominent platforms such as World Economic Forum and Financial Times,  and raised funding from Credit Suisse via the United Nations Lead 2030 Challenge and Expo 2020 Dubai’s Innovation Impact Programme.

After  graduation, my goal is to empower 1 million job seekers via dignified employment, and eventually grow ZoEasy into the global go-to platform for the blue-collar workforce (a Super-App of sorts). In order to achieve this scale. However, I need to go beyond the current skill set I possess, and what better time to do it than now!

With my company having reached a certain stage, I now have the time to take a step back and re-approach it with a fresh perspective by pursuing the MBA at LBS. This will not only help improve my overall fundamental skills, but will give me the opportunity to further brainstorm and innovate with my diverse classmates, build a stronger network to expand further, and even connect with potential co-founders who have similar visions.

Thrilled to see what’s in store over the next 2 years!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into London Business School’s MBA program? The LBS MBA Application is probably one of the most introspective processes out there. It really makes you think about who you are, what your goals and values are, the kind of culture and community you thrive in, and of course the people you want to form lifelong friendships with. It’s all about the fit!

My advice to any potential applicant would be to first dig a little deeper and really understand why you would be the right fit for LBS and vice versa. Delve into how your goals and values align with that of the school’s, and how LBS can help you get there. Also, highlight how YOU will make a valuable addition to the classroom and the wider LBS community be it through your work, your extra-curricular activities, and experiences where you have engaged with diverse cultures. Most importantly, make sure your application reflects authenticity, clarity of thought and really brings out your unique voice, because LBS really values this.

DON’T MISS: MEET LONDON BUSINESS SCHOOL’S MBA CLASS OF 2024

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