Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Shruti Jain, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Shruti Jain

University of Oxford, Saïd Business School

“I’m desi at heart, into all things food and food-systems, living on hummus and kombucha.”

Hometown: New Delhi, India

Fun Fact About Yourself: I can do skiing, paragliding and rock climbing, yet I can’t climb down a halted escalator!

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Delhi, Business Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Kaze Living, Co-founder.

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? I built my startup – an online marketplace for sustainably grown produce and artisanal foods – with sustainability at its core. So, when I started exploring different business schools, Oxford Saïd stood out for me for its unrelenting focus on “responsible business.” While I ended up deferring my offer from Saïd twice due to professional reasons, I stayed engaged with the then MBA cohorts and used this time to learn deeply about their MBA experience – the classes they enjoyed, the typical Oxford things they did, and the opportunities and networks they leveraged. So even though I had an offer to attend the MBA at another top B-school with a significant scholarship, I was sold on the Oxford dream and too invested in how embedded impact/sustainability is at Saïd.

Moreover, I was fortunate to receive the Skoll and Laidlaw scholarships – two full-ride awards that were a meaningful recognition and validation of my potential, my journey so far and my drive to make a difference. Being at Oxford Saïd has allowed me greater freedom in my choices and I would not have dreamt it any other way.

What course, club, or activity has been your favorite part of the Oxford Saïd MBA experience? Without doubt, Impact Lab has been my favorite program in the MBA. We delved into how movements are created, along with topics like impact measurement, systems-change thinking, and impact finance/investing. Further, I really enjoyed Doughnut Economics taught by legendary Kate Raworth. It completely redefines economics for the 21st century and calls out the unsustainability of everlasting growth. I love how it made me think of economics from the lens of women’s rights and planetary boundaries.

What is the most “Oxford” thing you have done so far as a full-time MBA student? There is just so much to explore in Oxford that even four years are not enough! I have tried my hand at wing gliding, lindy hop dancing, punting in the summers, and even rowing but the most Oxford thing I have done so far has been attending beginner debate sessions every Monday at the Oxford Union – the very institution with the tradition of hosting some of the world’s most prominent leaders and most compelling debates of our lifetime. My goal is to participate in an official debate at the Union by the end of my MBA year!

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? One of the most Oxford things you do as a student here is attend formal dinners at the various colleges that together make up Oxford. At the Rewley dinner, I had the fortune of sitting next to Rasha Saïd (the daughter of the founding benefactor of Saïd Business School), who shared her experience of witnessing all of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers in the same room. At another dinner at St. Peter’s college, I sat next to Anjali Benjamin-Webb, who spoke about being a death doula in-training. Oxford is the place where the world collides, but also, where it can be truly accessible.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Through my startup, we created a platform for artisanal food makers and farmer communities to build their own food brands and scale them using our community of 6,000+ conscious customers. It was extremely fulfilling to witness this wave of micro-entrepreneurs thriving during the Covid-19 pandemic and be a part of their growth story.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? I got the opportunity to attend COP27 Egypt as a University of Oxford delegate last November. This was the first year in the conference’s history to have food-systems specific pavilions/programming. For an entrepreneur like me, it was a brilliant perspective into how nascent the dialogue on climate and food still really is, and how far we have to go for basic building blocks of climate action, such as loss and damage. This experience was pivotal for me to see the real dynamics between major stakeholders and forces in global food systems and the key interventions we need for scalable impact. I was thrilled to meet not just entrepreneurs working in up-and-coming areas such as alternative proteins, but also students from Oxford working on cutting-edge research in agriculture, water systems, and net zero.

As it is very costly to attend such conferences as COP, I am grateful for the opportunity. Professor Marya Besharov and the Skoll Centre at Saïd Business School put all their resources together to make it happen for me. I even received full funding. This is just one of the many opportunities that I have had the privilege of experiencing, simply because I am in Saïd and Oxford.

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? When you study and live in a university that dates back to almost a millennium ago, it is only natural to form a new perspective on how the world works and how I fit in. As a young leader, it is my responsibility to not just be a cog in the wheel, but focus on levers of change in order to embed myself in impactful, systems-level work. With so much happening in the MBA program and Oxford university, I have learned the value of being intentional in my choices and actions.

This MBA is my year to rediscover who I am. A friend once remarked, “Oxford allows you to revel in who you are, it allows you to just be”. This has been the happiest, most liberating year of my life and I cannot recommend it more.


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