Meet Oxford Saïd’s MBA Class Of 2023

Most people take dinners for granted. They grab takeout or nuke frozen meals. When they eat, they’re often scrolling through their phones – routine and forgettable. Generations ago, dinners were the highlight of the day. They brought families and even communities together. Food was made fresh – the preparation doubled as an act of love. Still, the dinner ritual involved a deeper purpose than nourishment. At dinner, people slowed down to catch up and laugh together, to share ideas and stories. In the end, they found a connection that deepened with each meal.

Such formal dinners are a centerpiece of the MBA experience at the Saïd Business School – and the University of Oxford as a whole. For the Class of 2023, these events are as surreal as they are enchanted. Zorawer Singh, a ‘’23 MBA from New Delhi describes formal dinners this way: “Delicious Hogwarts style three-course meals served in dining halls that are hundreds of years old…[where] everyone wears a suit and the traditional Oxford gown.” Indeed, Oxford inspired JK Rowling’s the Hogwarts houses, with Oxford boasting 39 colleges that MBAs can join and live alongside students from all disciplines.


Over the past year, Anastasia Lite has invested time in visiting these various colleges and learning about their unique histories. “You have the more formal, traditional colleges like Oriel, where no phones are allowed at dinner to the lovely,” explains the South African trader. “Then, there is the more informal, more modern college like Green Templeton College that has no high table and has the ‘honoured guests’ sitting amongst the students. Lastly, I enjoy these formal dinners because they allow me to connect with my classmates in a more intimate setting. It is here where we’ve broken bread and shared our deepest vulnerabilities. It’s over these dinners that true life-long friendships are forged.”

Technically, the ‘smart’ dress code has been relaxed in many halls. However, you’ll still find formal ceremonial dinners replete with academic gowns or formal attire that includes – for men – “a black tailcoat, white wing-collared shirt, black trousers with a satin stripe, black patent leather shoes, and a white bow tie,” says startup CEO Obanor Chukwuwezam. Such events have left Andres Lara Oriani feeling as if he has been transported into another time.

“The most “Oxford thing” I have done is going to a place that looks and feels like one of my all-time favorite movies: Harry Potter,” explains the Deloitte consultant. “This happened at Christ Church’s college Christmas dinner. It is said that J.K Rowling got inspired by this location to create Harry Potter’s iconic dining hall. The only thing missing at this dinner were the floating candles. The food was delicious. The Christmas tree was magical. My favorite part of the night was that my good friend Arturo introduced me to a couple of members of the college who were studying fascinating subjects such as Astrophysics and Philosophy. All of this happened while wearing a black-tie outfit on a very cold December night.”

Oxford MBA presenting to classmates


In many ways, the University of Oxford is a place where worlds unexpectedly collide. Often, it is the formal dinner where these discussions occur. Cue Shruti Jain, an entrepreneur from New Delhi. At a Rewley House dinner, she chatted with the daughter of the business school’s namesake to discuss Van Gogh. At St. Peter’s College, she sat next to a visual artist who claimed to be a “death doula in-training.” While Oxford students possess some jaw-dropping backgrounds, Obanor Chukwuwezam believes the Saïd Class of 2023 make up an equally compelling group.

“As an Oxford Saïd MBA student, I have had the privilege of meeting people who have achieved remarkable things in their careers and communities. For instance, I have classmates who, despite working in demanding jobs at consulting firms, also established day cares and temporary shelters for Ukrainian refugees in their communities. I have also met individuals who have overcome significant challenges, such as disabilities, or political circumstances, to be here at Oxford. There are simply too many inspiring stories.”

Such interactions have already led to some profound epiphanies for class members. Laurence Milstein grew up in New York and studied at Yale University before starting a company. Now a member of Oxford’s Trinity College, which traces its roots to 1555, Milstein has discovered just how American-centric his viewpoint has been after living in the U.S. for most of his life.

“Being among an MBA class composed of 93% international students representing 64 nationalities has helped me decenter my outlook and adopt a more global approach to business questions.”


Shruti Jain notes that the University of Oxford founding dates back a millennium, to roughly the signing of the Magna Carta. Since then, the university has produced alumni as diverse as Sir Walter Raleigh, John Locke, Lewis Carroll, and Stephen Hawking. Home to 55 Nobel Prize winners, Oxford’s alumni roll reads like a who’s-who’s of Western culture – with Oxford alumni being responsible for everything from Penicillin to Lithium-Ion Batteries. Such a setting lends itself to introspection, Jain notes, and her year-long MBA has pushed her to consider who she wants to ultimately become.

“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.”

Where is the Class of 2023 from and what did they do before enrolling at Saïd? At UBS, Jean Kabasomi served as the associate director in Market Conduct Policy. A proponent of JOMO – Joy of Missing Out – she has also self-published two books and launched two podcasts. Similarly, Shafinaz Hossain, a vice president at HSBC, became the youngest team lead in Bangladesh – a pathway with obstacles than many bankers never face.

“In a patriarchal society like that in Bangladesh, it is almost unheard of for a woman to travel independently,” Hossain points out. “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.”

Matriculation takes place in the historic Sheldonian Theatre by the Bodleian Library area, Oxford


One word to describe the Class of 2023: Entrepreneurial. Chak Pan Ivan Hui’s startup saved one client $2 million dollars in a $19 million dollar project. By the same token, Shruti Jain partnered with farmers and food makers to provide access to over 6,000 customers. At the same time, Obanor Chukwuwezam built his business serving education and commerce in his native Nigeria.

“My greatest accomplishment in my career thus far has been establishing a successful business that has made a positive impact on the lives of many people. This business has provided tens of thousands of students with the skills they need to excel in their exams, while also creating thousands of jobs in Nigeria and generating significant additional income for teachers, who typically earn less than $120 per month in their full-time positions.”

The class also personifies Saïd’s commitment to responsible business. Before business school, Nijia Zhou reduced CO2 emissions by rolling out new sustainable packaging at Procter & Gamble. Channeling his inner Muhammad Yunus, Zorawer Singh marketed microloans, targeting consumers who had been rejected for 1,000 rupee loans by offering 1% of that amount instead. Turns out, 80% of these consumers were open to this alternative. Even more, Singh’s research determined that some consumers’ low credit scores weren’t necessarily tied to being a high risk.

“My team spent the next 6 months revamping our decision engines, using alternative data to analyse credit worthiness, Singh explains. “StashFin Elev8, the micro loan product that I launched back in 2018, now contributes a significant share of the company’s total annual revenue. It has also revamped our credit decision models and provided financial assistance to over 2 million underbanked people across India. Conceiving and scaling it is definitely my biggest accomplishment in my career so far.”


Since arriving at Oxford, Singh has taken the reins on the FinTech Club and Oxford Seed Fund. However, he considers his biggest achievement – so far – to be expanding his worldview. “Professionally, I’ve gained first-hand insights on different industries in different geographies, and various intricate nuances about certain industries and businesses that one would normally not gain exposure to. Personally, I’ve had the chance to interact with my classmates who come from all over the world and from different backgrounds and cultures. Having meaningful and intellectually stimulating conversations with such a diverse cohort has definitely helped me broaden my horizons.”

Outside work and class, Saïd MBAs are outright entertaining. As an undergraduate, Singh spent 18 days acting in a Bollywood movie, shooting in various cities and hanging out with famous stars. Nijia Zhou has bartended across three continents, while Australian Mia Muskett, has been busy learning how to sail a 24-foot yacht. And how about Andres Lara Oriani? In high school, he and a friend turned themselves into local musical sensations after learning how to DJ using YouTube tutorials.

“Before we knew it, we went from playing in our living rooms to spinning tunes in front of live audiences at nightclubs, parties, and even weddings,” he tells P&Q. “It was an incredible journey, and I will never forget the feeling of standing behind the decks, looking out at a sea of people dancing to the beats we were creating.”

As a whole, the Class of 2023 features 313 students, who brought a 682 average GMAT to the program (with overall scores ranging from 510-780). International students make up 93% of the class and hail from 64 countries. In addition, the class achieved near gender parity with 48% of the class being women. In term of professional experience, 27% of the class last worked in Consulting. Finance represents 19% of the class, with Technology (9%), Non-Profit and Social Enterprise (8%), Healthcare (5%), Energy (5%), and Government and Public Sector (4%) experience also accounting for large shares of the class.

48% of the class of 2022-23 are women, Oxford Saïd’s largest percentage of female MBA students to date


Earlier this year, P&Q reached out to Amy Major, Associate Director of MBA Programme Delivery at the Saïd Business School. Here are her thoughts on new campus developments, the legendary GOTO program, and favorite MBA hangouts.

P&Q: What are the two most exciting developments at your program in the past year and how will they enrich the MBA experience for current and future MBAs?

Major: “We are really delighted to have launched Oxford Insights last year, a co-curricular experience. It gives students the experience to understand leadership at Oxford in the wider context of the university. Students were enlightened about the Architecture of the university via eminent Professor William Whyte providing them with a lens on how the buildings of Oxford have formed the institution as it is and leadership as it exists in the university. Another highlight was having our students experience rehearsals of the Oxford Philharmonic Orchestra, students were able to sit amongst the orchestra itself and make comparisons between the board room and an orchestra, the synergies are incredible!”

Next Page: Interview with Amy Major continued.

Page 3: Profiles of 12 MBA students from the Class of 2023.

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