The South Asia connection
Amrita is responsible for partnerships, profile, networks, opportunities, alumni and marketing in South Asia and leads strategic engagement across the region.
I have a Master’s in Biochemistry from the historic M. S. University Baroda and studied at St Xavier’s College Mumbai before that. I’ve had an interesting career so far – when my goal of pursuing research via a PhD was interrupted, I entered the exciting world of PR and marketing, working with leading pharmaeutical companies in India where I delivered success via collaboration and storytelling around subjects that did not easily lend themselves to ‘fun and perky’ campaigns.
For my next stint, I landed an interesting role with the British High Commission’s Science and Innovation Network, which was being established in India then, moving to Bangalore in 2003, then still quite green and fresh and just before the construction boom and traffic explosion! I reported on the quality of research and key areas of engagement across top research institutions and companies (Indian and multinational) that were already establishing research centres in the city and realised my dream of meeting Nobel Laureates and other key scientific figures from the UK, who came to life from my favourite biochemistry texts.
I then took on a challenging role at GSK Pharma in Mumbai as a PR Manager, as well as another stint at the British High Commission, this time in Mumbai, promoting the UK as an attractive investment destination to Indian tech companies.
My focus on education and innovation was inspired by my teachers at my school in Mumbai – the wonderful J. B. Petit High School, and at my undergraduate programme at St Xavier’s College. The common thread through all of these wonderful people was the joy of learning and discovery, not just imparting knowledge, but being open to learning from their students as well, no matter how many degrees or years of experience they had on them.
I was excited by the idea of leading a country office for a leading university.
I have always been passionate about the potential of higher education and research to make change, particularly with innovative approaches to partnership and collaboration, both within institutions, across the sector and with various stakeholders. When the University of Edinburgh started having conversations around their plans to set up an office in India, following on from their China Office, I was excited by the idea of leading a country office for a leading university with a wide remit across research, exchanges and alumni engagement.
The then Vice Principal International, Professor Stephen Hillier, with whom I worked closely when the office was set up in Mumbai encouraged an entrepreneurial approach to developing the engagement with India. Alan Mackay at Edinburgh Global was always on hand to guide and support with huge patience while we navigated the complexities of setting up the University’s second overseas office – both within and external to the University. Professor Robin Wallace, previous International Dean at the College of Science and Engineering, survived my rigorous visit schedules across India with his wonderful wit and humour and also helmed a series of very successful India show and tells that served to unearth the tremendous depth and diversity of the University’s links with India.
There are so many more people that I have worked with since the office was established in 2010, that have been incredibly supportive, responsive and whose advice and insight have allowed me to develop a deep understanding of our wonderful and complex institution that is extremely valuable as I now navigate partnerships that are complex and at a significant scale.
Something I know...
The South Asia Regional Centre is a service to the entire University, and this is better known now than in the early years of its existence. However, I am always keen to flag that my team and other regional teams are collaborative, engaging and willing to work with students, academics and other professional services.
Also, I am passionate about good food and great experiences and will happily offer my extensive knowledge and advice for Mumbai and other places I know well to those who share my passion!