PhD student Ayesha Sengupta took first place in the Academy of Management’s 2018 competition for Most Promising Dissertation Proposal in Management, Spirituality, and Religion. Ayesha received a $1,200 award to attend the 78th annual meeting of the Academy of Management from August 10 to 14 in Chicago, where she presented her proposal.
Ayesha earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Delhi University and a master’s degree in organizational behavior from Amity University Guargaon. For her doctoral dissertation in management, she chose to focus on discovering the role of spirituality in the lives of empowered women in leadership roles and how it influences their work environment.
She will be conducting case studies of women, and will explore the concepts of workplace spirituality, servant leadership, and the idea of creating a nurturing work environment, where companies not only focus on profit maximization but also on individual personal growth.
Her choice was largely influenced by her mother, Sunita Singh Sengupta, a distinguished professor and author who started the Integrating Spirituality and Organizational Leadership Foundation in India. Ayesha has helped her mother organize international conferences since she was in high school. It was also her mother who first brought Ayesha to MUM while she was a guest teacher on campus, and Ayesha became intrigued with MUM’s unique stress-free yet focused system of education.
Another source of inspiration for her research came from the two years she worked as program officer for the nonprofit Amrita Serve, helping villages become self-reliant through organic farming and assisting women to become financially independent by selling their handicrafts.
“Growing up with my mother’s leadership provided me the foundation that helped me see things in a certain light of humility and compassion, which remain my core values,” said Ayesha. “But working at this organization truly broadened my perspective, seeing so many women unfold their potential. This is what truly helped me grow in so many ways.”
In addition to taking classes, Ayesha works at MUM’s Financial Aid office, and finds the practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique beneficial in helping her maintain her focus and life balance. “TM connects me to who I am and helps me stay present and grounded,” she said.
Ayesha is also volunteering with the Academy of Management to help popularize their Management, Spirituality, and Religion division and encourage MUM students to get involved.