Alumni Profile: Jyoti Chopra
Green Templeton College alumna Jyoti Chopra (Executive MBA, 2015-2016, EMBA ’12) is Senior Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, HR Operations and Transformation at Pearson plc, the world’s learning company.
Based in New York City, Jyoti is responsible for promoting diversity and inclusivity among the organization’s more than 24,000 employees, who are based in over 70 different countries. Born and raised in London, she completed her undergraduate studies in the United States before embarking on a career that has included roles at the United Nations, Merrill Lynch and Deloitte. She completed her Executive MBA at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, while working full-time as Managing Director and Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Bank of New York Mellon.
You were appointed Senior Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Pearson plc in 2018. Can you give us an overview of your career journey so far?
“I was born and raised in North West London (NW9) and went to the United States as an undergraduate student. I studied Social Sciences and majored in Journalism, completing a Bachelor of Arts Honours Degrees from New York University.
“My early career started at the United Nations in Manhattan where I worked in public information, human resources and communications. I spent four key years (1993-1997) at UNICEF where I covered issues affecting women and children, including the Rwandan civil war and the Bosnian / Balkan conflict, which had a major influence in my interest in gender issues and advancing equality. I made the pivot into the private sector in 1998 and headed into the banking and financial services industry, spending the next ten years at Merrill Lynch in its Global Wealth Management business. There I built a successful career in marketing to diverse customer segments.
“Following the global financial crisis and acquisition of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, I went to work at Deloitte in the office of the CEO, initially on strategic projects and then was appointed Global Leader for Communications and Public Relations, a role spanning 150 countries and at the time a workforce of over 170,000 employees. In 2012, I was recruited by Bank of New York Mellon as chief diversity officer supporting over 50,000 employees across 35 countries. BNY Mellon, as it is known today following the merger of the Bank of New York and Mellon, has roots dating back to 1784 and was founded by Alexander Hamilton, the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.
“Last year, I was recruited by Pearson plc, the world’s learning company and a FTSE 100 listed business. I serve today as Senior Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, HR Operations and Transformation for a company that is 175 years old, operating in over 70 countries with over 24,000 employees. I am especially excited by my recent career pivot into the education technology sector, which is experiencing tremendous growth and development.”
As global leader for diversity and inclusion, what are your responsibilities?
“I am responsible for promoting and advancing a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace. I oversee diversity training and education, development and deployment of our diversity strategy and goals, our many employee resource groups, and I manage our data measurement, tracking and reporting. It’s a role that involves working across multiple stakeholder groups and with colleagues from across the globe.
“It’s important to point out that diversity means different things in different parts of the world and my role presents a truly unique opportunity to test new ideas and thinking, to develop a deeper understanding of cultural nuances or sensitivities, and to ensure that we uphold our company’s core values (brave, decent, imaginative, accountable). I’m also helping drive change and transformation through operations across Human Resources. It’s a wonderful role with a fantastic shared services team in Manila and colleagues spanning the globe who are constantly innovating.”
What do you find the most rewarding and challenging aspects of your role?
“Being a diversity and inclusion leader presents a unique and special opportunity to work across cultures and countries and to promote tolerance, understanding and respect for all. I particularly enjoy meeting with colleagues from different parts of the world and hearing about their stories and career journeys and helping as many people as I can progress in their careers, reach their full potential, and achieve success. Today, I’m mentoring a communications colleague in Germany, a young woman from India on an ex-pat assignment in Dubai, and member of our research group in Washington, D.C. It’s wonderful to share insights, experiences and strategies to help others, as well as to be able to learn from my colleagues.
“The greatest challenge in global roles is bandwidth and never having enough hours in the day to meet all the people you wish you could. Over the past months, I’ve had a chance to visit Pearson’s offices and our colleagues in Argentina, China, India, the Philippines, and the UK. Each trip has been special, with many opportunities to learn about our company, our products and services, and our people who are deeply dedicated to advancing learning and promoting curiosity, imagination, and education for learners in all different stages of life.”
Do you have any other interests outside of your main role?
“I serve on Toyota’s Diversity Advisory Board. I’ve deeply admired Toyota for several years for its leadership and globally recognized practices. We actually studied Toyota’s lean production HBS methodology case during the Oxford EMBA. It’s a tremendous privilege for me to share my expertise in diversity and inclusion with the leadership team of this iconic Fortune 100 company.
“I am proud to support two Indian non-profit organizations, Pratham and Akanksha, which are both in the education and literacy arena, supporting schools, students and teachers, and delivering vocational training to under-served communities across India.”
What are your future career goals and ambitions?
“I’m deeply drawn to the space that is at the nexus of Human Development and Technology. It’s one that is poised for significant development, growth, innovation, and impact. It’s exciting for me to be at Pearson, a company that is a market shaper and an ecosystem builder. In terms of future career goals, heading into the C-suite and serving on additional public company boards are on my list of goals and ambitions.”
You were born in the UK and moved to the US for your undergraduate degree. Why did you choose to return to the UK to do your Executive MBA in Oxford?
“I applied to Oxford for my EMBA for two specific reasons. Firstly, it was the most international/global programme I found with courses being taught locally in India, China, South Africa and the USA. Secondly, it was the most immersive with its structure of week-long modules spanning almost two years. As a mature, mid-career professional, I was looking to go back to University and to become part of a special community and culture, which I found at Oxford. Lastly, the Oxford EMBA offered two very strong leadership tracks (Leadership Fundamentals and the Strategic Leader) and a coaching component as part of its core curriculum, which made it very unique.”
What has been your greatest achievement in life?
“First, having and raising my only child – now a dynamic millennial – Kabir Chopra – who is an actor, writer, filmmaker, author, and teacher (all while still in his 20s!). I derive tremendous joy by watching Kabir discover and explore the world through the lens of his camera. He and his artistic friends are always cooking up a project or working on a new piece of artistic creativity. I marvel at the uninhibited spirit that pervades the current generation of youth and their global outlook, their sense of empathy, compassion, and passion for saving the planet and living sustainably. Their spirit of learning and perpetual curiosity inspires me constantly and links very much to the work I lead at Pearson.
“Second, making the decision to pursue an Executive MBA and successfully complete it at the University of Oxford, while holding down a full-time global role in the USA. It was a transformational experience on many levels and really helped me grow as a leader.”
How would you describe your time at Green Templeton and the impact it’s had on your life after college?
“Green Templeton was my first choice for a college and I was thrilled to be admitted. I was looking for a college with a sharp focus on graduate students. A number of my EMBA classmates and I joined as a cohort. We had a marvellous orientation and induction to Green Templeton, which I will always remember. This was followed by a welcome drinks reception and college dinner for our group.
Green Templeton made us feel welcome, provided us with a home away from our academic school and building, and afforded us with an extended community and an advisor. To this day, when visiting Oxford or attending meetings, events or reunions, I still prefer to, and almost always, stay at Green Templeton!”
What is your most enduring memory of Green Templeton?
“The lovely private drinks reception and warm and welcoming first college dinner following our matriculation.”
Have you any advice for students considering Green Templeton as their college?
“Green Templeton is a warm, caring community that caters to graduate students. The facilities are gorgeous and it will always be your home away from home – forever.”
What is most important to you about being part of the alumni community?
“Having a regular cadence of communications, events, programmes, lectures (in the USA, UK, and other locations); finding ways to connect Green Templeton alumni from over the years with each other; setting up a referral/contact network; finding ways to give back and help Green Templeton strengthen its value proposition/offering for future students.”
Finally, what advice would you give to alumni aspiring to follow a similar career path as you?
“I would advise alumni to develop deep domain expertise in one or two practice areas, and to build a strong name, brand and reputation in the marketplace. An important piece of advice that one of my former managers at Deloitte once gave me was to ‘invest in the success of others’. It’s something I’ve reflected upon a great deal over the years, applied, and held onto ever since!
“Lastly, take some risks and seek out stretch opportunities that will grow and develop your leadership skills. Spend time with people and actively listen and apply key learning. Love what you do!”
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