Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Shafinaz Hossain, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Shafinaz Hossain

University of Oxford, Saïd Business School

“A chai dependent life-form who appreciates simplicity, humility and hard work.”

Hometown: Dhaka, Bangladesh

Fun Fact About Yourself: In a patriarchal society like that in Bangladesh, it is almost unheard of for a woman to travel independently. Despite being scrutinized at every step, I travelled to more than 30 countries on a shoe-string budget with one of the weakest passports in the world.

Undergraduate School and Major: Institute of Business Administration (IBA), University of Dhaka. I studied BBA with a major in Finance

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Vice President & Team Lead at HSBC

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? It has to be Saïd’s focus on impact – I wanted to go to a business school where the conversations about the impact of our actions on our planet, society, are an everyday affairs. I looked through the curriculum and the courses of the Saïd MBA and was impressed with the options which ranged from co-curriculars like the Impact Lab and the Impact Finance Lab to electives like Impact Investing to Regenerative & Circular Economy.

This was essential for me as I wanted to gain more knowledge on this and wanted to get a more diverse view on this topic which my classmates bring in to our class discussions every day. I was curious to understand more about the “trade-offs” between environmental and social returns versus financial profits and I’m proud to say that I’m learning new things about impact on a daily basis!

What course, club, or activity has been your favorite part of the Oxford Saïd MBA experience? The Oxford Saïd Finance Lab co-curricular in Michaelmas term was the highlight of the entire experience thus far. It is quite a rigorous selection process and requires significant time commitment, but the discussions that went around were the most stimulating and relevant debates of the finance and business worlds. Apart from that, we had guest speakers come in every class and usually take us through a deal they closed, which allowed us to experience what is happening in the real business world and what would be expected of us after our MBA.

What is the most “Oxford” thing you have done so far as a full-time MBA student? Gosh! There are so many – punting, formal dinners at colleges that are 800 years old, sitting in Rad Cam with a great book for hours. However, the most “Oxford” one that is truly unique has to be the Oxford Union debates and meeting the fascinating speakers like Malala Yousufzai!

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? It was when I went to the Ashmolean Museum with an Oxford DPhil student in History and the entire experience was so educational. It is moments like these that makes you realize how little we know about the world and how impactful the Oxford network can be.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I, as an individual, always found that my achievements and successes were a culmination of my hard work and the belief of the community that supported me in obtaining the unachievable. This realization was further strengthened in March 2021 when I was made responsible to be the youngest Team Lead of HSBC Bangladesh.

This particular life event impacted me in a way I never thought was possible. Of course, like any other professional, I was thrilled with the career progression but I soon realized how daunting it was to uphold the morale of nine dynamic individuals reporting to me, and to top it off, I am having to lead them virtually amidst a pandemic!

This responsibility bolstered me to take actions because now I am responsible for not just my performance but also that of the whole team. In those one-and-a-half years, I have learned more about people, team and community than I did in my entire life and this in turn brought the realization that I was actually living through my biggest accomplishment in career so far.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? I am co-chairing this year’s Oxford Women in Leadership Alliance (OWLA), which I consider to be my biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far. I think MBA as a discipline teaches you to lead, engage with stakeholders and encourages one to think on your feet to solve some of the most unique problems. My role with OWLA allows me to do exactly that. At the same time, I am getting to work on my mission to support women in turning their aspirations to triumphs and harness the power of difference through community building and “allyship”.

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? I guess it’s the realization that if you truly want something, you’ll find a way to make it happen. I mean, every day I am surrounded by people who are striving to achieve what they really want and to witness their determination and courage is just extraordinary.

Also, sometimes it just seems impossible to juggle lecture sessions, interview preparation, club responsibilities and so on but once you take a deep breath and think through what matters – you evidently find a way through.


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