QS World Merit MBA Community Scholarship: 2022 winner | TopMBA.com

QS World Merit MBA Community Scholarship: 2022 winner

By Aisha K

Updated September 26, 2022 Updated September 26, 2022

We’re pleased to announce the winner of the 2022 QS World Merit MBA Community Scholarship is Shaan.  

The scholarship awards up to US$5,000 to two students starting their first year of an MBA or EMBA degree, and is designed for students who demonstrate exceptional levels of socially responsible leadership and an ability to motivate others.  

We caught up with Shaan to learn more about her MBA study plans and the challenges she’s faced when trying to raise awareness on environmental protection.  

What are you most excited to learn at IESE Business School? 

IESE, with its Responsible Business Club, organises the Doing Good Doing Well conference annually - which is one of the largest student-led conferences in the region and is focused on sustainability, ethical leadership and the environment.  

I had a chance to attend it virtually this year and I am very excited to be a part of organising it in the next two years. I think it is a fantastic opportunity to build global connections in the sustainability space and learn from experts in the fields who are currently leading organisations and global projects.  

Beyond sustainability, the case method of teaching at IESE stood out to me. I have not been in a classroom as a student in 10 years and I don’t come from a business background. I felt that IESE’s case method where students are as much responsible for the class as the professor would be a very strong fit for me, in terms of how I want to learn and the skill set I want to build. With this, I know that when it comes to core business subjects, I am covered.  

Finally, and I cannot emphasise this one enough - IESE’s community has been so incredibly welcoming - and this started even before I got in! Of all the students I reached out to from different business schools through mutual connections or through LinkedIn, IESE students’ and alumni responsiveness rate was through the roof.  

The class this year is 85 percent international and the majority of students have lived or worked abroad - so the diversity is immense. I think this will really help me learn from perspectives and different ways of problem-solving that I have never been exposed to before. 

What are some of the most difficult challenges you’ve encountered when trying to awareness of environmental protection? 

Earlier in my life, I had the great privilege of meeting Sir Robert Swan. He was the first person to walk both poles of the earth and over decades he has remained committed to protecting Antarctica and our planet at large.  

In his journey, he said something that has stayed with me. He said: “The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it”. In all my work so far spreading awareness about the SDGs, the climate crisis and multiple other environmental issues to inspire people to act, the biggest challenges I have seen are: 

  • Lack of belief in collective and individual responsibility - citizens believe that businesses and governments are responsible, and businesses and governments say that people need to act and change their habits. This vicious cycle leads to no one really taking action or ideating or implementing long-term solutions. Furthermore, some businesses and institutions have become better at marketing sustainability instead of actually incorporating sustainable practices. 

  • The lack of prioritisation when acting on environmental issues - due to the number of issues that people face across the world from inequity and poverty to lack of education to poor wellbeing, it becomes very difficult for people - especially those who are marginalised and living in developing nations to take action as they have many other pressing issues that take precedence.  

On the other hand, the affluent and educated populations in many countries are known to have a large carbon footprint, However, the privilege they have had has shielded them from climate change and environmental issues so far and hence they do not feel the urgency to take any environmental action. Unfortunately, a majority of decision-making powers also lie with this part of the population.  

The solution to tackle these problems is by creating immersive educational experiences for people through which they can build a value system that helps them prioritise the environment and understand the urgency behind the climate crisis. The time when only a few policymakers and scientists were working on climate issues has passed now and we need all hands on deck.  

No matter what profession a person is in, sustainable practices need to be incorporated in all types of work and sectors. We also need more cross-sector collaboration so that long-term solutions can be ideated and implemented, especially in communities that are the most at risk.  

How will you create a programme to help women lead to action on climate change in their communities? 

In my full-time role at Wedu in the last four years, I supported over 3,000 women in Asia to develop their leadership through mentorship and leadership development programmes. In the process, I learned that women are heavily underrepresented in decision-making and leadership roles around the world - this is especially true for sustainability and climate action. At the same time - women are the most vulnerable when it comes to the climate crisis.  

At university, I hope to support women in my class to understand the importance of inculcating sustainable practices in the work we do and the role we can play to promote sustainability in the organisations we eventually join and lead.  

In the future, it is my hope to start immersive learning programmes with coaching and mentorship for women to learn about sustainability and leadership with the aim to have more women leaders contributing to climate action.  

What advice would you give to students who are looking to make a difference in their local community but are unsure of where to start? 

Before the SDGs came into existence seven years ago, I didn’t think I could make much of a difference as an individual. As a development professional with an interest in a myriad of different streams - education, environment, gender and inequity - I thought I lacked focus and had to find one thing to stick to if I wanted to truly create impact. However, learning about the SDGs gave me a sense of purpose since the goals are all-encompassing.  

There are three pieces of advice I have for everyone: 

  • Google the SDGs - learn a little about each goal and learn about the most significant challenges that your community or country is facing.  

  • Think about news headlines or pieces of information that you have learned recently that have made you sad or angered you or inspired you. This will help you learn what you care about the most, what you value and help you find out which SDGs or community issues you could dedicate your time to. 

  • Learn about local, national and international organisations that are working on one or many of the SDGs (QS World Merit is a great place to start - you can just register at qsworldmerit.org to get started). Working on some of the most significant challenges of our time - be it poverty or the environment or inequality, is not easy; but having a community to learn, from and be inspired by is very helpful. Being a part of communities and organisations already doing this work will give you a place to start creating an impact yourself.  

What advice would you give to students who are thinking of applying for the Community Scholarship? 

Become more self-aware, identify a challenge in your community and take action, create impact and motivate more people to join the movement. Once you have done the work, applying to the community scholarship is about describing how you have been able to create impact and support others to do the same. When you write your essay, describe the challenge, the action you took and the outcome of that action.  

Also, explain how you hope to continue this work and how your degree will help you to amplify this work. Before submitting, just have someone who knows you and your work read through your essay and provide feedback as they will be able to let you know whether your voice and your impact have been captured well in alignment with the question.  

All the best! 


This article was originally published in August 2022 . It was last updated in September 2022

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