Philippines & USA
It has been nearly 11 years since I have had a “first day of school”. New city, new school, new people… new country. As I tried to act confident with my decision, I was filled with nervous energy and a million questions. Was going back to school the right decision? Would I regret it? Despite my mind swirling with questions, I found solace reminding myself why I took the leap to leave my job and go back for an MBA. I wanted to immerse myself in an environment that was different to broaden my perspective and strengthen my work experience. In these first weeks, different is exactly what I found at Oxford.
This year’s class is made up of 54 nationalities with over 90% of the students moving from their home country to study in the Oxford MBA Programme. More than class lectures, news articles and Googling, I learn best from interaction with people. By meeting people different from yourself, you push yourself out of your comfort zone. At Warner Bros., I had the opportunity to work with people all over the world, to learn from them and understand their cultures. The dynamic is similar at Oxford. My classmates come from all over the world, and I have the amazing opportunity to learn from them. With over 2,000 years of professional experience in one room, there is a lot to discuss, but are the conversations I am having “traditional business” conversations? Finance jargon, stock markets, profit margins, expected salaries? Honestly, no they are not. I am talking to Sue about her experience working at the United Nations with the South Korean government; Aaron about his time as a U.S. Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq; Sixuan marketing the country of Great Britain in China; Simon negotiating technology trade at the Israeli Embassy; Sumit about his educational company in India; Deborah on her women’s empowerment initiatives in Nigeria. Just to name a few, these conversations energize me, then I think about how this all ties to business? What are the implications in a global context? There has to be a bigger purpose as to why we are together in this program, and there is… to “change the world.”
Before I lose you by being overly idealistic, I had the same practical reaction. How many business schools have a Dean that openly says they are recruiting people who will “change the world?”
Last year, I came across the Oxford Saïd Business School mission statement below:
“We are a world-class business school community, embedded in a world-class university, tackling world-scale problems.”
As a marketer, I thought it was a great plug, and especially coming from Hollywood, I am used to a bit of sensationalism. However, these first weeks at Oxford validated the truth in that mission. For the first time in my life, I truly believe that I am surrounded with people who will “change the world,” people from all over the globe who are working towards finding solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. My classmates are highly motivated to be that positive change. Whether on a small or large scale, we all have something different to offer.
On our final day of Launch, an immersive three-week orientation into the Oxford MBA Programme, Dominic Barton, Managing Partner of McKinsey & Co. and Oxford alum spoke to our class. Whenever Barton speaks to a retiring CEO of a corporation, he asks, “What are 3 things you wish you learned at the beginning of your career?” The majority response from the dozens of retiring CEOs was “Focus more on the people.”
Fifty years from now, I want to look back on my career including this time at Oxford and confidently say, “The people shaped the knowledge I have today.” Saïd Business School is more than a school; the people make it different. Saïd is a learning environment that brings together leaders across all industries. We are here to learn from each other, to support each other and to grow. Our differences are our biggest strength.
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