UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Alumni Spotlight: Bidisha Pandey

Meet Bidisha Pandey, Prosperity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship graduate (2021-22). A military veteran who has gone on to work as Director of Trade and Investments for Austrade.

Bidisha crouching in front of the UCL main building

What is your background and why did you choose to study the Prosperity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship MSc at the Institute for Global Prosperity?

I am a military veteran. I have served in the Indian Navy as a Logistics Officer for a decade. Post completion of my tenure in the Navy, I wanted to pursue a degree with both social science and business elements. MSc Prosperity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship was a perfect blend of both. On one hand, it pushed me to think what a truly prosperous world would look like and on the other hand, I designed profitable business models which could help make the world a better place!

What did you enjoy the most about studying with the IGP?

The diversity in our cohort in terms of background, experiences, and knowledge. The interactions and discussions during the seminars were very enriching. I learnt a lot from my team mates while working on group projects. For example, my team for one of the projects for transformative entrepreneurship design had members from Indonesia, China and Nigeria, coming from different sectors like marketing, design and consulting.

Not only did I gain professionally, I was also able to make meaningful personal connections with my classmates and teammates which I shall always cherish.

Which topics, extracurriculars, or electives did you find most interesting and why?

Strategic Project Management and Urban Futures were my electives, and both added a lot of value to my overall learning. I particularly loved the site visits and movie screenings planned by Dr Hanna Baumann for the Urban Futures module. I had no knowledge or prior experience with respect to Urban Planning but it ended up being one of my favourite modules of the course.

I also interned as a Business Development Consultant with a South African green start up and helped design their business growth strategy. This practical experience helped me put the knowledge I gained throughout the course to practice.

Can you tell us about your experience around the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme and how it has helped you?

I am eternally grateful to the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development office, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, and UCL for the Commonwealth Scholarship Award, which covered all my expenses including return airfare, tuition fee, and living expenses. I also got the opportunity to interact and network with various other Commonwealth Scholars studying at different universities across the UK during events organized by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission.  

Finance is one of the major hurdles when one aspires to study abroad in a country like the UK. A list of eligible courses, aligned to the CSC Development Themes, is promulgated every year for the Commonwealth Shared Scholarships. Applicants applying to these courses from Commonwealth countries must apply for Commonwealth Scholarships. In the application, be honest, specific, and consistent throughout all essays. 

What does prosperity mean to you?

Prosperity is an extremely broad and subjective term. To me, it entails various components such as belongingness to the community, safety and security, good education and job market, a healthy lifestyle, and a good environment with mutual trust and respect.


Can you tell us about your experience outside study, such as living in London or travelling in the UK, and how it has shaped or inspired you?

I am an explorer at heart and UK, especially London, was heaven for me. Together with my friends, I used to go for hikes at different scenic locations every alternate weekend. I also travelled to nearby beautiful destinations such as York, Brighton, Bath, Oxford, and Cambridge.

London, because of it’s cosmopolitan nature, exposes one to a variety of cultures which I believe is essential to appreciate how different and yet how similar people from different parts of the world can be!

What have you been doing since graduating and how did your MSc help you progress in your career?

I joined Austrade (Australian Trade & Investment Commission) as Director – Trade and Investments in October 2022. At Austrade, we facilitate international business collaborations between India and Australia.

The knowledge and expertise I gained on subjects such as innovation and entrepreneurship, the international exposure at UCL, and the practical experience of working as a business development consultant helped me immensely in making this career switch from military to international business development.

What advice would you give to new IGP students and to those thinking of applying?

The courses at IGP are not designed to teach you some specific skill that you pick up and enter the job market, they are rather designed to make you think critically about the world around you while equipping you with the necessary tools and knowledge to make an impact. Depending on your individual aspirations and inclinations, you may end up becoming an entrepreneur or a researcher! You may progress in the career track you are already in or you may switch fields completely like I did. Be open to possibilities and focus on learning and holistic growth.

What was the topic of your dissertation and could you share your journey around it?

The topic of my dissertation was “Building Resilience: How did female social entrepreneurs survive the COVID-19 Crisis in India?”. I studied the various factors associated with female entrepreneurs based on a framework created from previous academic papers on the subject, and then I analysed how these factors led to dynamic changes that helped female entrepreneurs adapt and evolve during COVID-19. It was a qualitative study where I interviewed 15 female social entrepreneurs about their journey through the COVID -19 crisis. For those who are interested in knowing more, I have talked about it in detail in the first episode of Life of PIE podcast by IGP on Spotify. Hope you find it interesting!


Hear more from Bidisha on the Life of PIE podcast 

Dealing with 'crises' and not a crisis is becoming the norm for us today. During times of crisis or adversity, female entrepreneurs find themselves faced with multidimensional challenges which they have to navigate using the resources available to them. More often than not, they are hit the hardest by a crisis and find themselves experiencing inter-role conflict. How do they navigate such challenges? In this episode of Life of PIE with Dr Onya Idoko, we discuss this question with Bidisha Pandey a former UCL Institute for Global Prosperity MSc PIE student.

Listen on Spotify