What does it mean to be ‘embedded within a world-class university’? This is an expression I have heard more than 30 times now, since starting my MBA two months ago.
A simple explanation is: I am not only a student of the business school but also a student of the university at large, belonging to one of 38 prestigious colleges and walking the same paths as leaders such as Indira Gandhi, Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher. I play for the university rugby team, for example – more affectionately known as the Oxford Blues. The team consists of philosophers, anthropologists, oceanographers, medical doctors, and geographers. In December, we will have the opportunity to play at Twickenham, in one of the world’s oldest sporting events against Cambridge. This fixture has been in existence since 1872. But what effect does this have on how I learn business? My future goal is to raise and manage the single biggest African private equity fund. When I communicate this idea to people in my class and inside the university, I am confronted by debates at every corner on the role of business in society, who do businesses exist to serve, who are the main stakeholders and, invariably, what cultural and moral standing will the fund and the businesses it acquires have. The importance and beauty of this pedagogical culture is that your solutions are holistic, your thoughts are all inclusive and you develop a clear understanding and thought process of the leaders and policymakers of tomorrow on a day to day basis.
Given my interest in private equity, I am part of the Oxford Finance Modelling Lab, which gives students a chance to master valuation techniques and have exposure to top banks and private equity funds through weekly case study and networking sessions. I am able to join discussions on their investment decisions and philosophies, bringing questions that I not only think of, but which have been raised by members of the rugby team or by friends during Oxford Union debates. Questions like the sustainability of the private equity model in today’s post-financial crisis world. To be embedded in a world class university is to become a business leader who benefits from the analogies of various disciplines, understands different perspectives and incorporates them into future decisions. I feel honoured to have a first-hand experience of this and look forward to the next 10 months.
This blog was originally posted in the Financial TimesBack to top of article