“I learned more about my leadership style through Education Pioneers than I did through any of my experiences in the past.”

Divya Subramanian spent four years working for the multinational consulting firm EY in India as a professional auditor. She entered graduate school with hopes of bridging her professional background with her desire to have a social impact; she is currently in her second year of business school at the University of Texas at Austin. When Divya learned about Education Pioneers at UT, she wondered if it was the right opportunity to leverage her financial expertise while working in a new sector that would give her “satisfaction and contentment.”

The EP interview process was the ultimate validator. While other interview processes posed the same queries about strengths and weaknesses, the EP process asked “deeper questions” and on topics that mattered to Divya like equity, equality, and access. The process confirmed that EP was the place for her.

  • Data & Analysis
  • Finance & Budgeting

During her Fellowship, Divya was placed at Orleans Parish School Board (OPSB), the New Orleans local school district that is currently undergoing massive change. After Hurricane Katrina, the state implemented the Recovery School District to turn around local schools -- and in 2018, OPSB is slated to take oversight of the 52 charter schools developed by the Recovery School District. OPSB hosted multiple EP Fellows, including Divya, to build the foundation for this critical period.

Divya’s Fellowship placement charged her with readying OPSB’s financial manuals and metrics for the upcoming major shift.

“I developed a financial manual for how money comes from the government to OPSB and how it should be dispersed to the many more schools coming under them. They needed a comprehensive document that outlines the entire process and makes it simple for new employees to understand as they transform” she explains. “I also developed financial metrics that would help OPSB interpret and support schools’ financial performances going forward.”

Through Divya's work, OPSB will be ready to financially sustain and operate their new cohort of schools that will serve approximately 30,000 additional students—an impact made possible because of her deep finance and accounting expertise.

Beyond the Fellowship, Divya stresses that the “whole journey” through EP was inspirational, particularly attributing it to the workshops, her cohort members, and the EP leadership story series.

In fact, Divya says she “learnt more about her leadership style through Education Pioneers than she did through any of her experiences in the past.” From her perspective, the leadership workshops went beyond the theoretical and the study of best practices to include a “reflective platform” that facilitated the Fellows to understand their leadership strengths and improvement points.

“I hope to have a future in education in a few years’ time,” Divya says, “but even as I go back to a mainstream finance career, I feel like Education Pioneers has given me a more holistic approach to how I do my job.”