Alum of the Month - October 2019

Sneha Owalekar

'At LSE you're encouraged to think critically and consider different perspectives, even whilst examining established theories'.
Sneha Owalekar


  • Programme studied: MSc International Employment Relations and Human Resource Management
  • Year of Graduation: 2012
  • LinkedIn profile

Alum of the Month for October is Sneha. After gaining experience in a range of sectors including banking, manufacturing and pharmaceutical, she is now working in the media sector for Disney India.

What’s your current job?

I currently work at Disney India as a Senior HR Business Partner, where I mainly support finance along with some other non-finance functions. My role as a strategic partner involves working with these functions to support hiring, employee engagement, organisational development, and appraisal processes.

Disney India has been an amazing experience for me personally. I joined STAR TV Network (21st Century Fox entity) and within five months of joining the organisation, I was able to witness my first merge and acquisition, which was an immense learning experience. Although it has been the toughest year for me professionally, I have learned a lot throughout the process. This is mostly because of the senior management team across the organisation, and especially in HR, whose focus on people was never lost, even during the most stressful times.

Where have you worked previously?

I started my journey as an intern with HSBC while I was doing my first Master’s in Psychology in India. I was then selected to work with Siemens India Ltd as a Management trainee, but after working for two years, I decided to go back to academia to pursue my second Master’s in International Employment Relations and Human Resource Management at LSE’s Department of Management.

Once I graduated from LSE, I started working with Standard Chartered Bank where I worked for over three years in both Singapore and India. After gaining HR experience in both banking and manufacturing, I moved to the pharmaceutical sector with Novartis and have more recently transitioned into the media industry, currently working with Disney India.

What’s the best thing about working for Disney?

Disney as an organisation is very people-oriented and the culture is very open and caring. I was fortunate to visit the United States recently with my family and saw a Disney Broadway show – Aladdin! My brother wasn’t particularly thrilled, thinking it would be too childish, but I took the advice of my Chief Financial Officer to watch it, and it was magical to say the least! What with adults and children expressing enthusiasm alike. That is the moment I realised the magic of Disney and its value proposition – to bring happiness, joy and laughter to every person age agnostic. How many organisations can claim to do that?

What made you change to a career in the media industry?

As an HR professional I have always believed in working within varied sectors in order to gain more understanding of the facets attached to each of them. Every sector and industry has its own set of challenges which is an enormous learning experience, especially for HR professionals like myself. So far I have seen banking, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and now media. 

The media industry has always been more of an enigma to me. I was always fascinated by the reach and power that media entails and what goes into the business side of it. Hence, when the opportunity presented itself to me I did not think twice - I must say, it is the best decision I have made. The pace and complexities attached to the media industry in India with merge and acquisitions being the norm, it is definitely an exciting place to be!

How has studying at the Department of Management allowed you to make an impact?              

Coming from India, my mind was trained to know (and know well!) a plethora of information which is out there, but not really challenge or critique what I learned. However, at LSE’s Department of Management, you’re encouraged to think critically and consider different perspectives, even whilst examining established theories. So for me, there was an initial struggle that one goes through in this new environment but once you get adapted, you realise it’s an invaluable life-skill.

Today, particularly in the corporate sphere, I find myself actively looking for ways to make things better or challenge things which have been practiced for years. Not only to challenge the status quo but to understand if there is a way of improving things or doing things differently.

What inspires you?

Passion! Passion for betterment, passion for an idea, passion to keep going until you achieve your goal and not ever think of giving up! As an HR professional – passion for people, which should not be a lost cause – that’s the bottom line of being in HR.

What advice would you give current students or recent graduates?

Make the most of it! It is 12 months of your life that you will never get back. Soak in as much as you can - attend public lectures on all topics - be it Economics, History, Political Science - whatever seems interesting to you and maybe something that you’ve never learnt before. I also took up courses such as Personnel Economics and Leading Entrepreneurship in Emerging Markets which was nothing to do with HR. Not only did I learn a lot, but I was able to meet people from different walks of life and experiences, that I may not have met otherwise.

As I said it before – it’s one valuable year of your life which you will never get back, so give it your all!