Bhavani has been working at MSSRF since the year 2000. Rural development, food, nutrition and livelihood security issues are the focus areas of her work. Between 2004 and 2006, she was on deputation to the National Commission on Farmers, Government of India, as officer on special duty to the chairman. From 2012 to 2018, she was project manager of the multi-country Leveraging Agriculture for Nutrition in South Asia (LANSA) research programme consortium led by MSSRF. Before joining MSSRF, she was an officer in State Bank of India for a decade. Bhavani has a MPhil in Planning & Development from IIT Bombay and PhD in Economics from Madras University.