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Thea Sokolowski

Degree:

MBA

Location:

United States

Industry:

Social Impact

Year:

2014-15

By Thea Sokolowski

Let me tell you about my Monday

Continuing to juggle the simultaneous opportunities at my disposal as well as my wide array of interests, I straddled multiple sides of my perspective career path in a single night this week, in an evening that was so very Oxford.

Amid the flurry of emails I receive on a daily basis around events happening in my college (which, regretfully, I’m rarely able to attend), a particular title caught my eye this week. As part of an annual celebration of famed British historian Thomas Hodgkin, a small group convened downstairs at Balliol to discuss his works. The audience was composed of current and former students, retired historians and researchers, experts in African archaeology, history, literature and education. And, in the back of the room trying not to get in the way, myself.

I spent the year before arriving at Oxford working in an incubator in Accra, Ghana, training the country’s future crop of technology entrepreneurs in all things business. I learned a great deal about Ghana, but more importantly about the current and former state of education in West Africa. As it turns out, this was the main focus of Thomas Hodgkin’s teachings, and his work remains as relevant now as it was in the 1950s and 60s at the peak of his career.

The talk was given by a prominent Ghanaian political figure, Lord Paul Boateng, the Baron Boateng of Akyem Wembley. Unbeknownst to me, as I scrambled to get to the door of the lecture hall at the last possible minute, he was the man that happened to have walked in beside me as I casually introduced myself (networking hat: on), only to find out later I probably should have been very much more formal (live and learn).

Following the discussion, we proceeded to the Master’s Lodge for drinks. I’ve been at this school for several months now, and these things still surprise me. Turns out, there’s a JCR for undergrads, an MCR for grads, an SCR (?) for faculty, and apparently – the fanciest of them all – the Master’s Lodge, for things like this. Standing in what appeared to be a beautifully designed antique living room, I sipped wine while (more properly) introducing myself to the Baron, as I was asked by just about everyone in the room what in the world an MBA was doing at an African Studies lecture. As it turns out, we had much more in common than we thought. As well, I’m curious, and more than a bit confused.

Following the drinks reception, I bolted out, hopping on my bike (while in formal dress – a new feat I’ve recently mastered) to a networking event at one of Oxford’s more posh hotels, hosted by a management consulting firm. Over (more) wine, (even more) networking, and a host of new information, my wandering imagination was pulled back in another direction as I considered an entirely different potential trajectory.

What I’ve learned so far is that it doesn’t really matter why we’re at any particular event. It doesn’t matter right now that we don’t have a clue what we want to do with our lives. Realistically, it doesn’t even matter if we’re just there for the free food. The point is we’re getting exposed to just about everything of interest there is here. We’re working to find any inkling of a potential direction we may want to explore further. And we’ve got all the resources in the world should we choose to do so.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a VC competition to plan for.

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