Scholar Spotlight - Patrícia Gonçalves

Laidlaw Scholar, Patrícia Gonçalves, on bridging public and private sectors to forge a sustainable, inclusive future through strategic green transitions and ethical AI advisories.
Scholar Spotlight - Patrícia Gonçalves

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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.

I was born and raised in the Netherlands to Portuguese parents and for the past years have worked as both a public and private sector consultant across eight different countries. Additionally, I was an elected youth representative at the Council of Europe and was an NGO leader for seven years, advocating for access to human rights, gender equality and quality education. As a sustainability enthusiast, I recently spearheaded the creation of a Just Transition initiative at Deloitte UK to aid their clients in ‘hard to abate’ sectors in transitioning to a green workforce. I am passionate about public-private sector partnerships and progressing large-scale initiatives that have a positive and tangible impact on society and people’s lives.

My journey towards pursuing an MBA began two years ago while I was working in Hong Kong. In my search for the right business school, I aimed to find an institution that not only excelled in business education but also prioritized social values as a core part of its curriculum and had scholarship opportunities that promoted social and cultural diversity. As a first-generation student and someone passionate about women's empowerment, I felt that the Laidlaw Foundation Scholarship for Women in Business would be the right fit. I also believe that my background as an NGO leader, and as a woman in business who comes from a very complex socio-economic background, has given me a holistic overview and perspective on the challenges affecting women in business, and the subsequent path to equality that lies ahead.

A few months later, I was thrilled to learn that I had been awarded the prestigious Laidlaw Scholarship. I distinctly remember feeling both honoured and overjoyed to be accepted into a world-renowned university and MBA program with a Laidlaw scholarship.

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

Remain positive in the phase of adversity. 

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

In every labour there is profit.” Truly immerse yourself in and be present in whatever you are doing because even seemingly unimportant activities impart skills and experiences you can draw from at a later stage in life.

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

If you want to make it, you have to wake up at 5 AM every weekday.

What are your top 3 leadership tips?

  • Step outside of your comfort zone and work with different cultures. We live in a global world, multiculturalism will make you more aware and respectful of differences and will help you to better read a room.
  • Have a long-term sustainable mindset. People join companies and buy from companies that are, at the very least, making an effort to not destroy our world.
  • Being passionate about your field/job/company/team is important and will make you want to get out of bed early in the morning when it feels like everything is going downhill.

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

I feel incredibly honoured to have been selected as part of an exceptional community of women who have been driving societal change across the world. It has not been easy to carve a career as a first-generation University graduate, with no pre-existing network and clear career role model. I am looking forward to the networking and learning opportunities that being part of this network brings!

Which leaders inspire you the most and why?

Patricia Goncalves during COP28.

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

I would see myself in a Policy role as a connector between public and private sector organisations mobilising big corporations to transform global systems. In a more medium term, I would see myself as an ESG / Ethical AI Advisor for businesses – providing policy insights and translating them into business strategy.   

Quick-fire Questions

📺 Currently binging: Beckham, Succession, White Lotus

📚 My top book recommendation:  Work Rules! – Laszlo Bock

🎶 My anthem: Hey Now – London Grammar 

🎵 Podcast obsession: I don’t listen to podcasts (YET)

🌈 Something that made me feel joy recently: Attending the Climate Change Conference (COP28) this year.


Patrícia is a Laidlaw Scholar at Oxford University's Saïd Business School. You can find Patrícia 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: 

⚡️ 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.

⚡️ Xuerui Yin, a Laidlaw Scholar at London Business School, on overcoming societal norms, creating opportunities for underrepresented groups and working with compassion.

⚡️ Areesha Imaan Siddiqui, a University of Toronto Laidlaw Scholar and Co-President of the Laidlaw Alumni Society, on combatting homelessness and leading with open, honest communication.

⚡️ Polina Foteva, a University of St Andrews Laidlaw Scholar and STEM Subject Co-Lead, on working with a recently-discovered enzyme and making scientific knowledge more accessible.

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