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Alan Keeso

Degree:

MBA

Location:

Canada

Industry:

Consulting

Year:

2014-15

By Alan Keeso

Baseball, The Three Stooges, Romance

When Derek Jeter, one of the greatest baseball players in history, singled in the winning run in his last game ever at Yankee Stadium (try watching this without getting the shivers), sports broadcaster Michael Kay had the perfect words for the storybook finish: “…Where fantasy becomes reality.”

The University of Oxford is known everywhere. It’s the oldest English speaking university in the world. Year in and year out, it’s ranked amongst the best universities globally. Oxford has housed 26 British Prime Ministers, more than 30 international leaders, 50 Nobel Prize winners, and over 120 Olympic Medal winners (ox.ac.uk). Moving through the centuries chronologically, the likes of Roger Bacon, Sir Walter Raleigh, Adam Smith, Oscar Wilde, and Stephen Hawking have studied here.

What else. Oxford was never bombed during WWII, one of the reasons being Hitler intended to make Oxford his capital upon conquering England (oxfordcityguide.com). When you’re enjoying a pint at Oxford’s The Eagle and Child, you’re sitting in the same pub that C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien met in to discuss their work. Here’s one for my fellow Canadians: the second oldest ice hockey team in the history of the sport can be traced back to Oxford (oxfordicehockey.com).

 

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I became infatuated with this place, where fantasy becomes reality, over seven years ago while living in a nearby town. I made a day-trip in and upon leaving was determined to become an Oxford University student. Years later when it came time to apply for MBA programs, Oxford was on a list of two along with London Business School. Having to eventually decide between them, Oxford’s brand new 1+1 MBA program was enough to tip the scales in its favour. I accepted the offers from the MSc. in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management and MBA programs, and again, fantasy had become reality.

Now lest I get fired from this blog for failing to mention the three-week MBA Launch I just survived, allow me to highlight a different reality that stems from the nature of the 1+1 MBA program. It entails that I complete a 1-year MSc followed by the 1-year MBA. Simple transition, yes? Nay. There are some differences:

Characteristic MSc MBA
Class size ~30 ~250
Nationalities ~10 ~45
Common background Straight in from undergrad Avg 5 years work experience
Nature of the course Academic Action-oriented
Nature of course work Reading, writing, more reading Case-based, team-based, career
Pressure Low High (relatively)

Transitioning from management consulting – and more so from a 13-week infantry platoon commander’s course – into my MSc year wasn’t easy, but walking through the revolving doors at SBS on Day 1 of the MBA Launch sparked a wake-up call.

So outwardly, the MBA Launch looked like this:

But inwardly, my 3 weeks felt more like this:

Of course, I give a great deal of credit to those in charge of shaping the MBA program here at Oxford. I say with pride that that the Oxford MBA is unlike all others. Our Dean and his team repeated several times throughout the MBA Launch that “we are a world-class business school community, embedded within a world-class University, tackling world-scale problems.” And as often as we’ve heard that repeated, I haven’t tired of it. While each of us will be pursuing our own career interests, I do believe that a tone has been set throughout the MBA Launch mandating that we as a class move into the program, and eventually out of it, with a greater purpose in mind.

As a final point of interest, even more often repeated than Dean Tufano’s SBS mission statement throughout the Launch was the claim that we as a student body will see relationships evolving perhaps in excess of classroom formalities. More specifically, inevitable class romances could blossom into future marriages (relax Mom and Dad it’s still unlikely), which allegedly stand the test of time for Oxford MBA alumni. These claims no doubt sparked increases in the average heart rate within the lecture theatre here in Oxford, where again, fantasy becomes reality….

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