Heena Nathoo




South Africa





By Heena Nathoo

Get to know Heena Nathoo, Class of 2020-21

Tell us about yourself: I am a beach lover, Bollywood fan and indulger of anything sweet – provided I get my daily dose of exercise.  I enjoy trying new activities but am a master of none. I tend to look at the brighter side of life and use my creativity to challenge the status quo

Sector/Industry you worked in pre-MBA: Consulting

Sector/Industry you are hoping to work in post-MBA: Consulting/ Employee Experience/ Impact

College: St Hugh’s. It is located away from the central bustle of Oxford but still close enough to feel its magic

Social Media:
Instagram:  heenan_13

Q1. In one word, how would your best friend describe you, and how would your manager describe you?  
Best friend: Sunshine
Manager: Go-getter
Q2. Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford, and more specifically, the Oxford MBA.
I was born in South Africa, in the subtropical city of Durban, raised by a traditional Hindu family. With most of my childhood immersed in cultural activities, such as Indian Classical Dancing (Kathak). It really has etched the morals and values instilled in me today.


I completed my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering, but soon discovered it was not a field I was passionate about. Post-graduation I took a year to reflect and tried to figure out my future plans. I completed my Postgraduate Diploma in Management and volunteered at an NGO called Food for Life Children’s Project, an organisation that combined nutrition and education to impoverished schools and orphanages.


During this time, I realised many of us turn a blind eye to the societal problems that seem too big to conquer. Where do you even begin? This first hand experience has enlightened me on how the smallest contributions could go a long way and this sparked my journey towards ensuring I lead a purposeful career.

Enter PwC! I started my journey as a consulting graduate, rotating through various departments, industries, clients and teams. Whilst I enjoyed the diverse experience, I continuously asked myself, “Was this enough?”

In November 2017, I got the opportunity to be the Chief of Staff for the Marsh Advisory Africa team, part of Marsh & McLennan Companies, based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Working closely with the leadership team, I managed a diverse set of strategic initiatives across people, clients and day-to-day operations. My proudest achievement was:

·        the development of a tailored advisory graduate programme and

·        creation of an employee led forum called the Advocates of Change, who were dedicated to confronting current issues facing the workforce, through impactful initiatives.

Here, I got the opportunity to mentor and provide a platform to empower young talented individuals, who pushed the business to be geared for the future.

Through this holistic experience, I’ve realised that ‘doing good’ and business can complement each other, and this potential remains largely untapped.


An MBA has always been part of my career plans but doing it internationally seemed impossible. In 2019, I found the courage and the timing was right. I decided to take the leap of faith, with a strong support network cheering me on.

The search started with a list of possible business schools, but it quickly became apparent that Saïd Business School aligned to my criteria and personal ethos. From the quaintness of the city, the collegiate system, the rich traditions to a curriculum entrenched in responsible business, its distinct focus on the African continent and the incredible individuals I’ve met through the Alumni network. Oxford was a no brainer.

The journey thus far, has been a rollercoaster but I’m confident I’m at the right place at the right time. This is a memorable moment in history, where a pandemic has paused the world. What a perfect place to learn how to ‘’Build Back Better”!



Q3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?

I spent a significant amount of time on the career modules. Reflecting on my strengths, passions and areas I want to develop on during my MBA.

I also reached out to individuals from the MBA alumni network, for helpful tips and tricks on tackling this year.


Q4. What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?

I’m honestly so thrilled to be a student and learn again. I’m going in with an open mind, to absorb as much as I can and gain the energy, confidence and practical tools to do my part in changing the world.

Q5. What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?

It’s very tempting to get lost amongst a 300+ cohort of incredible individuals. Run your own race and just be yourself.

Q6. Do you have any advice about the Oxford MBA application process for candidates thinking of applying?

My top 3 tips:

1.      Just apply.

Once you make the firm decision, everything else will come together.

2.      Be Resilient – Fail but try again…then maybe fail again, but try again.

I attempted the GMAT process 4 times. I wouldn’t say I conquered it, but my determination was clear.

3.      Have a strong support network

Don’t do this alone. Reach out to individuals who can guide you through the process. The recruitment team and alumni network are always ready to give a helping hand.


Q7. What part of the programme are you most looking forward to? 
This is once in a lifetime opportunity that brings together individuals from different geographies, industries, sectors, cultures and unique experiences. I can’t wait to learn, not only from experts around the world but from my diverse cohort.


Q8. What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?
Prioritise, Prioritise, Prioritise! Since I’ve started my MBA journey, this has been a recurring piece advice from the alumni network. It’s nearly 2 weeks till the start of term, and already I feel myself being pulled in many directions.


Q9. How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?
From my experience, I’ve seen the untapped potential of ‘doing good’’ in a corporate environment, even in the most traditional of business models. Post my MBA, whether it be through education, sustainability or employee experience, I hope to find the perfect integration between impact and business.

Q10. Are there any sport teams, societies, or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?

I hope to join a running/hiking club and try out something new such as kayaking or rowing. Coming from a warmer climate, it’s going to be interesting to see if I can continue this through the winter months!

I also would like to get involved in the Africa Business Alliance. The school’s and Dean’s commitment to the African continent, provided the platform to make this dream attainable for many African students like myself. With the Dean’s announcement of his final year at the school, it’s never been more imperative time to embed this initiative for future African candidates.


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