Education: Bachelors, University of Waterloo, Canada; graduated in 2021
Topic(s) studied: Biology and Business
Interested in: Healthtech entrepreneurship, product management, venture capital
My greatest challenge when I applied to business school was: I did not know if I had the ’right‘ profile for business school
For Al Nameera Meghjani, the “power of education” was always clear, even when circumstances made her path less than straightforward. Overcoming many challenges along the way, Al Nameera gained a unique and diverse experience of Canada’s healthcare sector while interning as an undergraduate, which helped shape her future plans. Here, the Laidlaw scholar explains how she went on to develop skills for business and for life on the London Business School Masters in Management (MiM) programme.
I come from what I would describe as a very typical Indian family in Hyderabad. My dad grew up with a family of 50 under the same roof. Eventually, a lot of his family began to immigrate to the US, but without a formal education he couldn’t get a visa. In India, we struggled financially, borrowing money to cover our household expenses – at one point we were £250,000 in debt. My parents have always shielded me from this, but as I grew up and started looking at universities for further education, I came to realise that things were not as easy as they seemed for us.
My family moved around quite a lot in search of better prospects - including to the UK – and eventually we settled in Canada. I did my undergraduate degree in biology and business at the University of Waterloo. I took out a loan and got grants and scholarships while working part-time. I enrolled in a Cooperative Education programme, which combined classroom-based education with practical work experience. I would do four months of study, followed by four months of work to gain experience and cover my tuition and expenses. It was stressful, but I knew there was no way I could give up. My parents are strong believers in the power of education and have always given me the necessary support and encouragement to pursue my dream – so I didn’t want to disappoint them.
I’m very passionate about healthcare and cancer genetics in particular. During my undergraduate studies, I interned at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre where I worked on the clinical side in genetic counselling, process optimisation and the software implementation for the clinic’s electronic medical record software. It made me realise that I was more interested in increasing the efficiency of the clinic than the clinical side of the role.
Working in a cancer centre really changes your perspective. It made me realise I didn’t have the emotional endurance to be a healthcare professional, but it opened my eyes to the opportunity of using my interest in management and technology to have an impact on the healthcare system on a much larger scale. That is why I wanted to obtain a Master’s in Management. London Business School was not only a rare university in offering funding for a Masters in Management, but it also struck me as a truly diverse place. I knew that I would flourish and succeed in an environment that saw my own diverse background as a strength rather than a weakness.
Getting a Laidlaw scholarship meant that I could live without the financial stress I had experienced during my undergraduate degree. What I experienced previously took a toll on both my education and personal life, and not having to worry about that anymore was a weight off my shoulders. I could really embrace the journey and take advantage of the London Business School experience. It also gave me a network and community; meeting other scholars, you realise there are these capable, strong leaders in the room with you, which is both inspiring and empowering. Another important aspect was the chance to meet with Lord Laidlaw, whose foundation funds the Laidlaw scholarship. He advised and encouraged us to start something of our own. He wanted us to know we were competent and capable, and reassured us that we deserved to be there. It gave me a confidence boost I don't think I could have got elsewhere.
So many modules stood out for me at London Business School, but I particularly loved Product Management with Professor Lil Mohan. I didn’t want to miss one second of that class – I could listen to him 24/7, and really think he should have his own podcast! We learned about product-market fit, and essentially everything an actual product manager would need to do to launch a new product or work on improving an existing one. I found this really complemented another elective I did in entrepreneurship called Pathways to Start-up Success, with Professor Gary Dushnitsky. There’s so much hype around becoming a unicorn, and how to get there, but this course was eye-opening in terms of different goals you can have as an entrepreneur. Not everyone wants to get big and sell off. Do you want 5% of a really big pie? Or do you want 95% of a smaller pie? Learnings from both of those courses have really stuck with me and will help me in my career.
The marketing and strategy modules really force you to think in new ways. In marketing, for example, we worked on a case study based on a failing flower delivery service company. We had to determine the best way to position the product in the market. Initially, I along with everyone else in the class, thought flowers equate to gifting, and so logically thought it would be best positioned as a flower gifting business. When we walked through the analysis, we concluded it would actually be best as a niche product for people who collect flowers rather than for gifting. It blew my mind that the answer had been there the whole time. With those kinds of classes, I felt like I walked in with something and walked out with a lot more.
There is so much to get involved with at London Business School. Celebrating Diwali with the India Club was like a little piece of home with all the music, language, and food. I also think the Women in Business Club is a great initiative, especially for networking with those more senior professionals like Sloan students, who are among the most experienced at London Business School. You can get a lot of advice about how to navigate certain situations, whether it’s “I did this, and it was a success” or “this backfired for me”. Some of them have been in business longer than I’ve been on this earth and their mentorship is invaluable!
The Career Centre really helped me in my journey at London Business School. Every step of the way I could go to the head of early careers and say, “can you please walk me through this”? It simplified the process at a time when you don't know exactly what you're doing and are trying to get your priorities in order. I’m currently working in the fintech space gaining transferable skills for the future and building on the things I learned at London Business School – whether that’s data analytics or marketing strategy. It feels like I’ve come into the workplace with a toolkit of skills I can apply across a lot of different situations. My ultimate goal would be to start my own company bridging the gap between healthcare and technology.
Being a Laidlaw scholar at London Business School will add so much to my future. Having a degree from London Business School, people know that you are capable. It has also noticeably improved my confidence – I feel empowered to share my ideas and have conversations with C-suite executives and senior management, even if I might not be totally sure about something. My scholarship wasn’t just about money – it’s about creating a pathway to everything I can do later in life. It’s an opportunity for me to inspire other girls who come from a similar background to my own to pursue a career in management.
Learn more about the Laidlaw Women’s Leadership Fund.