Introduction to Shanta Acharya

Shanta Acharya has the rare achievement of being published in fields as diverse as asset management, poetry and literary studies. Educated in India, the UK and the USA, she has lived and worked in all three countries. Widely travelled, Shanta brings a global perspective to her work.

A portrait image of Shanta Acharya

Born in Cuttack in the eastern state of Orissa in India, Shanta was educated at St. Joseph’s Convent School and Ravenshaw College, Cuttack, where she completed her Master of Arts in English. She was awarded the Gold Medal for securing the highest position in Utkal University in MA English. She was also the recipient of the Rai Bahadur Janakinath Bose Prize for the best all-round performance by a student at Ravenshaw College.

In 1979, she won a scholarship to Oxford and was among the first batch of women admitted to Worcester College, where she completed her doctoral thesis and was awarded the DPhil. She was a recipient of the Violet Vaughan Morgan Fellowship at Oxford. Between 1983-5 she was a Visiting Scholar in the Department of English and American Literature and Languages at Harvard University.

In 1985, Shanta moved to London and joined Morgan Stanley Asset Management. She initiated talks between Morgan Stanley and the State Bank of India resulting in the launch of the first country fund for India, long before the Indian stock market was opened up to foreign institutional investors. She was a Portfolio Manager with Swiss Bank Corporation in London, where she built up the Bank’s largest equity portfolio, Asiaportfolio. At Baring Asset management, she was a Senior Portfolio Manager when the firm was the largest foreign institutional investor in South Asia. Subsequently, Shanta worked as a Senior Client Services Manager at Bank of Ireland Asset Management in London. From 2002-2008, Shanta was an Executive Director, Initiative on Foundation and Endowment Asset Management, at London Business School.

With Prof Elroy Dimson, Shanta founded the Foundation and Endowment Asset Management (FEAM) programme, launched in 2006 at London Business School. It was the first professional development programme for managers and investors in the philanthropic sector in the UK and Europe. FEAM ran for three years at London Business School, 2006-08. She developed case studies of the Wellcome Trust, Henry Smith Charity, the Norwegian Petroleum Fund along with a major study of endowment management practices in Oxford and Cambridge, which case studies she taught in the School’s programmes, including the Topics in Asset Management elective for the MBA and Master in Finance students, and the Foundation and Endowment Asset Management programme. Shanta won a major collaborative funding award from the Charities Aid Foundation for her contribution to the field.

Shanta was featured in The CFA Institute Member Magazine for Investment Professionals, in The MOST Issue, November/ December 2005, among the three individuals selected to represent the “Extreme Career Change” category.

An internationally recognized poet, Shanta has published five collections of poetry. Her poems have been widely anthologized appearing in major publications in the USA, UK and India. The most recent inclusions are: Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond, edited by Tina Chang, Nathalie Handal, and Ravi Shankar (W.W. Norton and Co, USA; 2008); The Bloodaxe Book of Contemporary Indian Poets, edited by Jeet Thayil (Bloodaxe Books, UK; 2008); Temba Tupu (Walking Naked) The Africana Woman’s Poetic Self Portrait, edited by Nagueyalti Warren (The Africa World Press/ The Red Sea Press, Trenton, NJ, USA; 2008); Unmapped: The Indian Poetry Issue, edited by Sudeep Sen (The Literary Review, USA; 2009); We Speak in Changing Languages: Indian Women Poets 1990-2007, edited by E V Ramakrishnan and Anju Makhija (Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, India; 2009).

She is the founder director of Poetry in the House, responsible for hosting monthly readings at Lauderdale House, Waterlow Park, Highgate Hill, London N6 5HG; a role she has undertaken voluntarily since June 1996. Shanta has also served on the Development Board of the Arvon Foundation. She was among the Founder Members on the Board of Trustees of the Poetry School, and was a Member of Council of the Poetry Society. She remains a Life Member of the Poetry Society. Shanta was elected to the Board of the Poetry Society, UK, in September 2011.

Shanta is regularly invited to give poetry readings and talks and has read at various institutions, festivals and poetry reading venues in the UK, USA and India. Her select performances include: Barbican Library (UK), Boston University (US); Canadian High Commission (UK), Cumberland Lodge, Windsor (UK), Department of English, Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi (India), Goodenough College (UK), Harvard University (USA), Hyderabad Literary Festival (India), India International Centre (Delhi, India), National Portrait Gallery (UK), Ryedale Literary Festival (UK), St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation & Peace (London, UK), Senate Hall, Central College Campus, Bangalore (India), Study Centre for Indian Literature in English & Translation, University of Madurai (India), The Habitat Centre (New Delhi, India), The Nehru Centre (London, UK), Osmania University’s Centre for International Programmes (Hyderabad, India); The Poetry Café (UK), The Sahitya Akademi (New Delhi, India), Theosophy Hall, (Mumbai, India), Torbay Festival of Poetry (UK).

Her hobbies include theatre, cinema, music, art, travelling, cooking, reading, photography, mentoring and volunteering.

She is currently a Consultant to institutions and individuals in asset management as well as in the arts, education, poetry and creative industries.

Shanta Acharya is available for freelance assignments, talks, readings, reviews etc. and can be contacted at shantaacharya@btinternet.com