Welcome to the first feature of our Alumni Spotlight series where we’ll be exploring and sharing with you the inspiring experiences and achievements of our Oxford Alumni. Our first to feature is Dhruti Shah, a Mansfield alumna who is currently a BBC journalist and published author.
The journey so far
Dhruti Shah attended a state school and applied to read English Literature at Mansfield College due to “its reputation for nurturing young journalists. That was always the dream – to tell the stories of other people and have an insight into their lives.”
With a career at the BBC for the past 13 years, Shah has worked in a variety of roles including on the news website, in news-gathering and even at the Business Unit, which inspired her to come up with the idea for her book which she worked on with another journalist, Dominic Bailey.
Shah explains her journey to the BBC and what inspired her to write ‘Bear Markets and Beyond: A bestiary of business terms’ “after a short stint travelling, I returned to my first love of journalism and worked in local newspapers. There I spent a few years working my way up the ladder and learning the importance of accountability and community. I then turned up at the BBC where I’ve been for the past 13 years. I’ve moved around the organisation working in most departments, working for the website, Panorama, Newsbeat, World Service, news-gathering and elsewhere.”
Finding the story
Shah has covered a number of topics, “stories including natural disasters, terror attacks, tales about people doing good things to help their communities, and a whole lot more” And said she is often found to be writing. In 2019 Shah worked in Washington DC as the BBC News social specialist writer where she covered stories emerging on the social beat. Of this time she reflects “as long as I could find an angle where the stories I worked on made people think differently, I’d achieved my goal.”
Inspiration from Oxford
While at Mansfield, Shah was exposed to Bestiary - MS Bodley 764: “In India, there is a beast called the manticore. It has a triple row of teeth, the face of a man, and grey eyes; it is blood-red in colour and has a lion’s body” The study of this at Oxford sparked an idea: “While working at the BBC, I had a small idea. I’m used to dreaming big so when I couldn’t find a beginner’s guide to business that was fun and included animals; I decided to create one.”
The Bestiary and her Oxford student experience left a mark: “What English Literature student at Oxford wouldn’t fall in love with such a vivid description as that? I absolutely loved the Bestiary and sitting drinking constant cups of tea and eating malted milk biscuits was a sanctuary. I was able to look at children’s literature for my dissertation so that was an amazing opportunity and it’s amazing to think that twenty years from my first exposure to a bestiary, I’m now the author of one.”
For more information on Dhruti Shah and her book, you can visit her website.
To find out more about Oxford's alumni community, visit the Oxford Alumni page. You can read our other Alumni Spotlight on Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE, who was the youngest person to obtain a Master's degree from the University of Oxford, and is currently the CEO of Stemettes.