2024 Best & Brightest MBA: Priyal Keni, London Business School

Priyal Keni

London Business School

Impact-driven leader, transforming ideas into actions for community empowerment and sustainable, inclusive change.”

Hometown: Mumbai, India

Fun fact about yourself: I am an ex-international rifle-shooter. At the age of 15 I made my debut in the international sports circuit and represented India for the next 7 years as a member of the Indian Shooting Team. I have won more than 100 medals and hold 3 national records to my name in this sport.

Undergraduate School and Degree:
– Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree of Commerce, University of Mumbai
– Chartered Accountant, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? Deloitte India; Consultant

Where did you intern during the summer of 2023? Accenture Strategy, London

Where will you be working after graduation? I will be working for Accenture Strategy in London as a Senior Consultant.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

– Laidlaw Women’s Leadership Scholarship funded by the Laidlaw Foundation (2022-24)

– Forte Scholarship funded by the Forte Foundation (2022-24)

– President, London Business School Student Association (2023-24)

– Member, London Business School Governing Body (2023-24)

– President, Laidlaw Foundation Women in Business Society (2022-24)

– Member, London Business School Student Philanthropy Council (2023-24)

– Senior Executive Committee Officer, Consulting Club (2022-23)

– Senior Executive Committee Officer, Impact Consulting Club (2022-23)

– Junior Executive Committee Officer, Women in Business Club (2022-23)

– Junior Executive Committee Officer, Board Fellows Programme (2022-23)

– MBA Student Ambassador (2022-24)

– Peer Leader for Consulting (2023-24)

– Tattoo Crew Member (2023-24): Tattoo is an LBS tradition that goes back decades. The on-campus celebration, run by students for students, takes place annually and celebrates the incredible cultural diversity of LBS’ student community through food, performances, and a student talent show.

– Sundowner Crew Member (2023-24): Sundowners are fortnightly themed social events held on campus organised by the Sundowners crew in collaboration with the SA and 80 or so student clubs at LBS. They bring together the student community over food and drinks.

– LBS Blog Writer (2022-24)

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? As President of the Student Association (SA) and a member of the LBS Governing Body, I am proud of the meaningful contributions I have been able to make to the student community at LBS during my tenure. Leading a team of 55 officers, from the outset my focus was on three key areas: increasing the visibility of the SA, enhancing student engagement with the SA, and improving the transparency of the SA’s processes. By focusing on these areas, my ultimate goal was to create a more inclusive, responsive, and effective SA working towards enhancing the LBS experience of more than 2,000 students across our Dubai and London campuses. I identified several initiatives that were critical to achieving this goal and stayed deeply committed to empowering my team with every little support they needed for driving these ahead. My priority at all times was to establish open communication and collaboration, both within the SA and with the broader LBS community, by rallying stakeholders around shared goals and working closely with student clubs and LBS staff.

Alone this year the SA has successfully delivered several remarkable initiatives, such as operationalizing our maiden ESG policy; revamping treasury processes and club governance guidelines for 80+ student clubs; fielding our largest MBA Tournament team; launching our bi-monthly SA bulletin; and reintroducing the LBS Yearbook to name a few! I take particular pride in sharing that our legacy as the SA of the year 2023-24 includes: 1] Creation of a dedicated fund to further subsidize ticket prices of SA events to foster more financial inclusivity; 2] Instituting inaugural Student Association awards with the Dean’s support to recognize the efforts of students who have made a profound impact on the LBS community; and 3] Laying the foundations of our very own SA Advisory Board.

As someone who would have never thought of attending LBS without a scholarship, joining forces with the Advancement team as a member of the Student Philanthropy Council has also been a very fulfilling experience of paying it forward (while I am still a student) by working towards creating more financial opportunities similar to the ones conferred to me. Additionally, taking on the role of the President of the Laidlaw Foundation’s (my sponsors) Women in Business society has given me the opportunity to mentor numerous exceptional women and launch new initiatives to empower them to achieve their career aspirations. The satisfaction of knowing that my contributions will continue to benefit the LBS community for many years to come puts a smile on my face, reinforcing my commitment to continue to foster a more inclusive and supportive environment for future cohorts!

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Leading the Generation Equality Allyship campaign for UN Women India and having the experience of running my own non-profit set the stage for a defining moment in my career in 2022. I was selected for UN Women’s 30 for 2030 network to provide strategic perspectives and lead projects to accelerate progress toward the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda. This invitation to collaborate with global gender equality leaders from 15 countries came at a critical time when the pandemic had just eroded decades of progress made towards bridging the gender gap. The first project that I spearheaded focused on addressing the sudden spike in instances of online gender-based violence. Internet usage had surged during the pandemic, which in turn led to an increase in the severity and occurrences of instances of online crime. To immediately combat this situation, I co-authored a toolkit which was a youth guide to respond to and prevent online gender-based violence.

This toolkit was launched globally by UN Women supported by its Center of Excellence on Gender Equality as a part of the 16 days of Activism campaign in 2022. It directly impacted thousands of women by educating them about their rights and equipping them to safeguard themselves against any form of online gender-based violence. The toolkit was greatly appreciated worldwide by gender equality leaders, organizations and women who benefited from it, following which a second edition was launched in 2023. I have spoken about my work in the gender equality space on platforms such as TEDx, as well as in the media, including CNBC and various prominent Indian media outlets.  In 2023, I was also presented with the UK-India Achievers Honor at the UK Parliament (an award which celebrates the significant contributions of Indian students and alumni from UK colleges and universities to the society).

Balancing my commitments to UN Women in parallel with pursuing a full-time MBA program has been challenging. But witnessing the lasting difference my contributions to the 30 for 2030 network have made on the lives of thousands of women, stands out for me as my most proud achievement.

Why did you choose this business school? Having thrived in a multicultural environment during my stint in the international sports circuit, I was convinced that I wanted to go to a business school that is known for its diverse and inclusive culture. After researching several business schools and speaking to a lot of alumni, LBS clearly stood out with more than 90% of its class remarkably consisting of international students. The different opportunities that LBS had to offer, coupled with the flexibility of the MBA program and the London advantage also aligned perfectly with my career goals.

Another pivotal decision-making factor was the desire to go to a business school that is invested in consistently creating opportunities to help more women succeed in their careers. LBS’s commitment to advancing women in business is not merely reflected in its class statistics (with 43% of the most recent MBA intake consisting of women), but is also actively practiced through various platforms and clubs on campus, like the Women in Business club and the Women’s Touch Rugby Club, which truly live by the ethos of “Strong Women Lift Each Other Up.” Reflecting on my journey, the decision to join LBS has been more than vindicated. The school has been a catalyst for my accelerated growth, enabling me to enhance my leadership abilities and giving me the platform to create substantial impact.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? My favorite MBA professor is Daniel Effron, Professor of Organisational Behaviour, who teaches the course “The Science of People in Organizations” (SPO). Daniel is a world-class researcher whose work has been discussed in media outlets such as the New York Times, Financial Times, BBC News, The Atlantic, Forbes, and Bloomberg. His research examines the psychology of how people act in ethically questionable ways without feeling unethical, and what shapes people’s judgments of others’ unethical behavior. He has also been named one of the “Best 40 Business Professors Under 40” by Poets & Quants.

What sets Daniel apart is not just his academic pedigree, but his engaging teaching methodology. He is one of those few professors at LBS who follow a strict no screen policy in the classroom. This adds to his responsibility of keeping a class of 80 students engaged for a good 3 hours, but he does it effortlessly! Daniel’s teaching style is notably interactive and grounded in practicality, employing real-world scenarios to demystify complex topics – all while infusing a little dash of humor. This approach transformed a theoretically dense subject like SPO into a dynamic learning experience. In Daniel’s classroom, we were afforded a safe space to explore the topic, have an open discussion, and apply theoretical concepts. Thanks to his innovative methods, SPO has become one of my most cherished courses, arming me with practical insights that extend well beyond academic boundaries.

What was your favorite course as an MBA? My favorite MBA course was the Global Business Experience (GBE) themed “Reinvention in Turbulent Times” in Lima, Peru. This course offered a deep dive into the dynamic changes, challenges, and opportunities in Peru by illustrating how local businesses are navigating the delicate balance of embracing change while leveraging their successes. Almost 70 LBS students spilt into smaller working groups embarked upon this intensive one-week program, which was a rich learning experience packed with organizational visits, engaging guest speaker sessions, and a live client project.

This was my first visit to South America. In just a week’s time, I gained a comprehensive understanding of Peru’s economy across a breadth of different sectors such as mining, heavy construction, banking, start-ups, and digital payments. The highlight of the GBE for me was presenting our project deliverables to the group and parent company CEO and other senior management members of our billion-dollar client organization under the guidance of our faculty advisor, Arianna Marchetti. During the visit to Peru, I also managed to tick a major travel destination off my bucket list – Machu Picchu, which made the trip even more memorable for me!

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Looking back at my MBA journey, if I could change one aspect, it would be to prioritize engaging in self-reflection exercises more often. The MBA journey is transformative yet intense, moving at a pace that doesn’t leave much room for pause. A thought-provoking moment came during a leadership incubator session with my coach Miriam Green in November 2023, where she recommended that I start practicing the concept of “less is more.” This advice underscored the importance of taking moments to reflect, realign, and appreciate the incremental achievements before rushing to the next milestone. Following this suggestion, I resumed journaling once again and took a trip (long due) back home to India after 1.5 years – dedicating time to family, friends, and self-care. This shift in approach has helped me fully embrace every moment and derive more value through my learnings on this journey.

What did you love most about your business school’s town? London is a melting pot of cultures! As an immigrant, the inclusivity of London is very striking; it’s a city where diversity is not just present but celebrated. Walking through its streets, the array of languages, colors, and accents is a testament of its global heartbeat. In a very short period of time, it became my home away from home.

Second, it is one of the most important business hubs of the world. Whether it’s attending high-profile career events, engaging in networking opportunities, or exploring part-time roles across a spectrum of industries, London serves as an expansive platform for professional growth. Its dynamic environment ensures that, as a student, you’re not just confined to LBS but are constantly exposed to other real-world experiences that are a significant value add to your MBA journey.

What surprised you the most about business school? The most surprising aspect of business school for me was the collaborative spirit of the LBS community! When I was first introduced to the MBA Class of 2024, I was smitten by the achievements of some of my classmates. I remember looking up a few LinkedIn profiles and anticipating how competitive business school would be, given our shared aspirations for similar jobs and academic success. But this perception was fully shattered in week one. It was a humbling experience hearing the same accomplished classmates speak more often about their hobbies outside of work, travel bucket lists, and other personal goals instead of their career-related aspirations.

This revelation instantly burst the “cut-throat competition” bubble at the very beginning. As time flew by, I could see the profound impact these interactions with my peers had on me. Confidence is infectious. When you’re constantly surrounded by people who do not shy away from being their authentic and independent selves, it brushes off on you in magical ways! I realized business school was less about competing and more about inspiring each other in meaningful ways. The idea of success is shared!

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Among my classmates, Christian John Rojo stands out as a person I deeply admire. He embodies humility, eloquence, and is very down-to-earth – something I highly appreciate about him! My connection with Christian was established early in our first year. We both hail from a FLII (First-Generation, Low, and Intermediate Income) background, and have a lot in common. These included our journeys of overcoming adversities to make it to business school; how we planned to navigate through the two years at LBS; and what we want to get out of this experience. Most importantly, we both shared a common passion for enhancing financial inclusivity at London Business School for students from FLII backgrounds.

Over the course of the MBA, Christian and I have become each other’s strongest cheerleaders for the student roles we have taken up on campus. In the second year, Christian is leading the FLII Club and organizing the maiden FLII conference. This event is groundbreaking, marking the first time a business school has hosted a conference dedicated to socio-economic diversity. Furthermore, Christian’s engagement extends beyond this initiative. He actively supports the Women in Business Club as an ally and led the allyship panel at the EQUALL conference this year. His commitment also shines through his involvement in the Speak Out Week, an initiative focused on combating harassment and bullying within our community.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? Post-MBA, I am stepping into the world of consulting with the intention of leveraging my MBA skills to drive significant impact across businesses and communities. My aim is to progress within consulting towards a partner track, focusing not just on my career advancement but on creating lasting value through my engagements. In the long term, I am open to exploring where this path might lead, aiming to specialize in a specific industry or sector, with guidance from mentors and sponsors. Whether it’s leading a consulting firm or transitioning into a C-Suite role, my ultimate goal is to assume a senior leadership position where I can continue to make a substantial impact on thousands of lives and businesses.

Over the next few years, I want to continue to deepen my involvement in the social impact space and my ultimate goal is to launch an impact fund, specifically focused on empowering women entrepreneurs. Inspired by my research paper on the topic of “Microfinance for Women Entrepreneurs”, I believe the introduction of more women-led businesses will change the face of the entrepreneurial ecosystem especially in developing economies like India – contributing to the GDP, improving the female labor force participation rate, and increasing the number of women in leadership roles. A famous quote by Marian Wright Edelman I relate with in this context is this: “You cannot be what you cannot see”. As a leader, I hope to leave behind a legacy that will inspire more women and empower them to achieve their dreams because I believe that empowering women means empowering half a generation!

What made Priyal such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2024?

“Each year, there are a very small number of students I meet right at the start of the programme who I know are going to stand out over the next two years. When I met Priyal at a Meet and Greet event in August 2022, just before Orientation, I knew she was one of these few students.

Since then, Priyal has shown herself to be an inspiring role model to so many around her, while also being able to seemingly effortlessly navigate her own MBA in line with her own values and priorities. Right from the beginning, Priyal has always “shown up” – whether that’s in her academics, working diligently to achieve success; in student coffee chats on sustainability or classroom engagement, bringing her perspective and asking thoughtful questions; or in initially putting herself forward for the role of Student Association (SA) President, again mindfully looking at both what she could contribute, as well as what she could learn.

Since taking on the role of SA President, Priyal has excelled in leading with calm and effective authority, pushing the SA to be and do more, for the benefit of students now as well as for cohorts to come. She has successfully reinvigorated both the SA and the student club eco-system, using leadership skills to motivate and encourage the very best in those around her. From measures including the re-launch of the LBS Yearbook, to thoughtful engagement with the school administration on how to further improve the learning experience for all students, Priyal has shown herself to be an exemplary member of the School community.

Perhaps most importantly, everything Priyal does is with inspirational grace and humility, never looking for the limelight, but always ensuring she achieves what she has set out to do, whether it is for her benefit or that of her fellow students.”

Helen Foley
MBA Program Director


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