Scholar Spotlight - Durga Ravindran

Laidlaw Scholar, Durga Ravindran, is fostering women’s empowerment and policy innovation for Telangana’s education and nutrition sectors.
Scholar Spotlight - Durga Ravindran

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Durga Ravindran, a Laidlaw Scholar at Oxford University's Saïd Business School, on Empowering Women and Advancing Policy in Telangana's Development Sectors.

Before my time at Oxford, I spent four years working with the Government of Telangana, my home state in India, where I developed and advised on policies in the areas of women's entrepreneurship, school education, and maternal and child nutrition. As a 1+1 MBA student at Saïd Business School, I recently completed my Master of Public Policy at Oxford. The Laidlaw Scholarship's mission to empower women deeply resonates with me, and it was a key factor in my decision to apply. The scholarship's offerings are exceptional, but it's the community of female leaders that Laidlaw assembles which I was most looking forward to. (And I’ve met SUCH WONDERFUL women already!) 

Oxford Matriculation Day!

What is the biggest life challenge you have overcome and what did you learn from it?

A challenge I’d like to share is overcoming the tendency to view the world from a narrow lens. I think in my effort to make sense of the world around me, I draw boundaries. It’s been an ongoing learning experience to remind myself that there is so much more beyond my current perspective. I use experiences and journaling as tools to remember that the world is vast and full of possibilities.

What is the most useful/impactful piece of advice you have been given in your life?

The best advice I've gotten is that it's okay to have internal conflicts that aren’t resolved right away. A healthy tension between priorities can actually help you grow and push you to try new things.

Conversely, what is the WORST piece of advice you have been given?

Fake it till you make it (When do you ‘make’ it? And did you really make it if you faked it?)

What are your top 3 leadership tips?

  1. Be curious to understand people and things better.

  2. Trust in the potential of others and lead with kindness.

  3. Have a clear goal but be ready to change how you do things when needed

What does it mean for you to be a Laidlaw Scholar?

Being chosen as a Laidlaw Scholar makes me feel lucky and proud to be part of a group of brilliant women. I also feel more responsible to make the world a place of equal opportunity. 

A few Oxford SBS Laidlaw Scholars.

Which leaders inspire you the most and why?

I'm drawn to leaders more for their journey than for their instances of success. It's the path they take and the challenges they overcome that I find truly inspirational. That's why I often find it hard to be inspired by well-known leaders; while I look up and draw inspiration from specific situations, without knowing their full stories, I find it difficult to have a well-known role model. 

This is why the leader who has inspired me the most is my father. His approach to life—his resilience, his ability to stay open-minded and adapt to changing situations, and his positive outlook—has shown me what real leadership looks like. 

Describe a scene from the future you are striving to create.

I dream of a future where everyone loves to learn and no job is seen as less important than another. Whether you're taking care of family or working in a bank, it's all valued the same. And, people are open to learning from feedback to grow better together.

Quick-fire Questions

📺 Currently binging:  Criminal Record


📚 My top book recommendation: Educated by Tara Westover

🎶 My anthem:  We Didn’t Start the Fire – Billy Joel 

🎵 Podcast obsession: On being by Krista Tipett

🌈 Something that made me feel joy recently: Discovering a new running route in Oxford on a sunny day! 


Durga Ravindran is a Laidlaw Scholar at Oxford University's Saïd Business School. You can find Durga on LinkedIn. The Laidlaw Women's Business Education Scholarship aims to help build a pipeline of future women leaders through access to best-in-class education, resources and global networks by providing full and half scholarships to women who would not otherwise be in a position to reap the benefits of attending an outstanding school. 

🔦 Discover more Scholar Spotlights: 

⚡️ Patrícia Gonçalves, a Laidlaw Scholar at Oxford University's Saïd Business School, on navigating the crossroads of public and private sectors and championing a sustainable, equitable future.

⚡️ Lucy Nyamaah, a Laidlaw Scholar at Oxford University's Saïd Business School, on pushing past gender norms and envisioning a female-led future in the Energy sector.

⚡️ Juliana Ruseva, a Laidlaw Scholar at London Business School, on volunteering, helping women break the glass ceiling and tackling issues step by step.

⚡️ Adebusola Adegbuyi, a Laidlaw Scholar at Saïd Business School, on facing challenges with optimism and empowering young women to begin careers in technology.

⚡️ Aya Hammad, a University of York Laidlaw Scholar, on understanding the origins of cancer, promoting equality in healthcare, and learning to be adaptable.

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