Saikat Nandi, a Portfolio Manager at AIG.
My appetite to push expectations drove me to apply to Oxford…why not find out if I could make my childhood dreams a reality?
As a boy, it seemed as though I could only dream of studying at a prestigious institution like Oxford. I was raised in a humble mining town in rural India, where few left to pursue bigger dreams. My parents encouraged my ambition, albeit cautiously; it was a long shot, but I eventually became the only person in my family to earn a PhD, or any degree from a foreign university.
The Indian Institute of Science was a pivotal launching pad for my academic aspirations, where my undergraduate research gave me the confidence in my aptitude to move forward. As a young man in the very cosmopolitan city of Bangalore, I truly began to thrive, becoming worldlier both in and out of the laboratory. My appetite to push expectations drove me to apply to Oxford. I loved the university’s scientific ethos, historic reputation, and fabulous opportunities. Why not find out if I could make my childhood dreams a reality?
I was thrilled to be accepted into the doctoral program, where my research focused on discoveries that could impact diseases such as Fanconi Anemia and Breast Cancer. One year into my DPhil program, I published a first author article in a top journal, and I still regularly write scientific papers reviewing the industry’s hottest therapeutic areas, with over a dozen publications in high-impact journals. I lived in Exeter College, and it was the best fit for my interests. Exeter is extremely welcoming to international students. I met classmates from over fifty different countries – including Lithuania, a country I previously did not know where to locate on a map! I felt extraordinarily lucky to have so many friends across such a diverse group of people, and still have fond memories of dinner conversations in Hall ranging from Tolkien’s Hobbit to Roger Bannister’s mile.
I am beyond grateful to the SKP Clarendon Scholarship, which made my Oxford dreams possible. My experience at the school marks a paradigm shift in my life, and solidified a foundation for building a career that I love.
After graduating, I moved to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York as a Cancer Biology Fellow funded by the Empire State Development’s Division of Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR). In addition to continuing my research in genome duplication and rare diseases, I worked with biotech startups at the intersection of science and business while holding management positions at two early ventures. I also served as editor and reviewer for over two dozen international scientific journals. From there, I moved into a federally funded biotech incubator, developing investor relations and communications for emerging companies, and then became part of a family office investing in public and private healthcare equities.
Today I am a Portfolio Manager at AIG, a multinational finance and insurance giant. I support the company’s healthcare and life science investments; I also advise emerging biopharmaceutical companies, scientific societies, and philanthropic organisations like Vesta Health.
My reality has surpassed all of my wildest dreams, and I thank Oxford University and Exeter College for every opportunity they have given me. I am forever grateful.