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Sheen Gurrib

I have taken so many new and exciting steps since completing the RisingWISE programme that it is hard to know where to begin!

The programme came at a great time for me as I was just about to complete my PhD in back pain research (at Cambridge University) in December 2020. In the last weekend of RisingWISE I got 3 rejections from firms that I really wanted to work for and when I was sharing my grief with Dr Jelena Aleksic (CBO and co-Founder) who was a facilitator, a discussion of what I wanted to pursue as career led to her offering me an internship at Pharmenable, which was incredible and still went ahead during the pandemic, even while I was at home in Mauritius. I got to learn so much from her about the intersection of science and business, and about creating and managing partnerships.

It was incredible to meet other women who were doing interesting work outside of just their immediate research fields. That’s when I first realised that there were loads of transferrable skills, I got from the PhD which meant that my career choice was not limited to just being a post-doc! I also made some really cool friends, firstly my small facilitated group from RisingWISE. We are still part of a whatsapp group and we still update each other on major achievements, and it is an awesome cheerleading team! Plus I have since featured Dr. Olivia Nicoletti, who was my facilitator, as a guest on my podcast (see below). So in terms of networking, it was very useful and the connections made are lasting ones too. Even Anne, one of the programmes two co-Directors, I can just email her asking for a chat anytime to brainstorm some ideas, so I am very grateful!

I am now working as a Programme Manager for Map the System at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, part of the Said Business School at Oxford University. This move can also be linked directly back to RisingWISE, as I met Dr. Zainab Kabba, Associate Director for Programmes whilst on a tour of support spaces available at Oxford to women entrepreneurs. I was able to make a connection, which definitely influenced and helped my decision to apply.

As well as landing an inspiring new job, I have activated my underlying entrepreneurial skills since finishing the programme with a variety of initiatives:

-          I have set up Reshape Co. as a response to COVID-19 to help SMEs, startups and NGOs that were struggling due to the pandemic. It started off as pro bono, it is now a not-for-profit consulting company. We are a team of 210 members, having worked on over 40 projects from more than 30 countries. Across multiple social media platforms, including LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook, we have a network of over 4000 members and we just launched our YouTube channel. Our consultants worked on projects across multiple industries, ranging from private equity, fintech, agriculture, transport, healthcare, retail, hospitality to even government-led challenges. They also worked on critical social impact projects dealing with women empowerment, levelling the playing field for access to education for students from underrepresented backgrounds, public speaking coaching and the BLM movement. Consultants even got to work on projects involving cutting edge technology such as blockchain and artificial intelligence.

-          I have started a blog where I wrote about my experience of writing my thesis, and doing my viva remotely during the pandemic, I also write about random things such as knowledge equity, women empowerment, the importance of diversity and resilience.

-          I have launched my podcast called ‘Dream, Girl’. I host women guests on a weekly basis to talk about their journey, their challenges and views on how to bring about systemic change to address sexism and racism. I’ve had guests who are training astronauts, cancer survivor who is now a doctor, athletes, journalists and many others.

-          I have started a new Instagram page ‘The WOC Tribe’ as a platform for women of colour to express themselves and learn about ways to tackle day to day challenges. 

-          I have been nominated and now short listed for Forbes 30 under 30 Europe in the Sciences and healthcare category (fingers crossed!).

-          As a WEF Global Shaper from the Cambridge Hub, I joined the Navi Mumbai Hub to become an ambassador for a fundraising project with UNICEF India to address period poverty, with the aim of helping over 200,000 women.

-          I set up a company in Mauritius called Reach Oxbridge to help Mauritians apply to Oxford and Cambridge, 4 of them have successfully secured admissions.

Sheen Gurrib