Sainsbury Management Fellows

Interview 1: Deviyani Misra-Godwin

Deviyani Misra-Godwin (BA, MEng, Cambridge/MIT), Harvard Business School

DEVIYANIBiog: Deviyani enjoyed a distinguished career in the energy sector before securing a place at Harvard. Most recently she was a management consultant at Boston Consulting Group, responsible for strategic and operational projects for firms across the energy industry and was involved in a diversity of activities including fuelling planes in Lagos, decommissioning in the North Sea and developing European Power Trading Strategy. Prior to that, she was at ExxonMobil, where she worked on one of the largest petrochemical and refining sites in the UK, managing operations for the chemicals units; she achieved several promotions during a five-year stint.

What inspired you to study for an MBA?
My long-term goal is to launch my own firm providing operations consulting to British energy companies. I want to help these companies balance the lean, rigorous cost focus they need to be competitive, with the long-term strategic vision they need to take advantage of the new opportunities in this space.

I’m pursuing an MBA course at Harvard Business School because there is still a lot I need to learn about commercialising engineering opportunities. I want to focus on what it takes for companies to thrive in low-margin, high competition environment and learn what is required to develop and launch a successful start-up. Finally, I want to learn how I can be a global leader.

Tell us about your MBA programme
The first year covers core curriculum, such as finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, and operations. Year 2, is an elective curriculum and I plan to focus more on entrepreneurial activities and energy-specific courses.

What are your impressions having started your MBA?
I have been struck by the varied views and backgrounds of my classmates.  From military commanders to tech entrepreneurs to digital editors, there is a wealth of backgrounds to learn from. I can clearly see how the case method teaches you to learn from your peers: to be persuasive, but also open to new ideas, and how it teaches you to react quickly to the wealth of diverse views and opinions.

What difference has your scholarship made to you? 
The SMF award has been an invaluable addition to the Harvard Business School experience. It’s given me the freedom to pursue new and exciting opportunities without the burden of debt. But more than that, it has given me access to a network of other emerging engineering leaders, whose advice and inspiration will be essential as I pursue my long term goals. SMFs’ goal to equip ambitious engineers with the commercial and entrepreneurial skills to innovate and commercialise products is exactly why I wanted to pursue an MBA.

Tell us about the mentoring scheme you set up for female engineers
I am passionate about increasing the number of women in engineering.  When I started my career as one of the only women on an operating plant, it was incredibly challenging – there were so few female role models to learn from.  As I became more senior, I realised I didn’t want new female graduates to have to go through what I did without any support, so I founded a mentoring programme for women on the refinery.  The programme paired senior male and female managers with more junior women, and they provided encouragement, advice, support and access to broader networks. Our goal was to retain and develop women to their full potential. It was hugely successful – by the end of the first year, 80% of the women had asked to take part, either as mentors or mentees.

I was overwhelmed by the positive response from all the participants, and wanted to do more; I have since spoken at IChemE, WISE and STEM events around the UK about the importance of increasing the number of female engineers.

When I moved to consulting I was a core member of the Women@BCG London team, where I organised multiple networking events, including a large diversity panel with senior partners from around the globe.

Having now worked across the UK energy industry in firms big and small for over seven years, I have seen first-hand that women working in energy in the UK are few and far between. There are simply not enough female role models.  My dream is to become an influential leader in the UK energy industry, fulfilling my goal of inspiring more female engineers.

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