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Buhle Ndlovu

Degree:

MBA

Location:

South Africa

Industry:

Investment Banking

Year:

2017-18

By Buhle Ndlovu

Lessons from Michaelmas, Carpe Diem!

I often get asked by my ex-colleagues and friends what it feels like to make the transition from Banker / Private equity Practitioner to being a full-time student…I swopped spending every week in a different country, working 15 – 18 hour days, leading operational improvements in investee companies and running due diligence exercises on target companies for the life of a student in Oxford. Despite the stark difference in responsibilities and lifestyle, it has been a fulfilling few months. I thought that Business School would be a welcomed breather from demanding deadlines and having to constantly find a work-life balance. Little did I know, I was swapping one life that demanded I prioritised often 4/5 competing activities to a self-inflicted ailment of the same!

The biggest difference is that I do have a greater command of my time but I am still as busy because I do not enjoy being idle. I now fully choose to wake up at 6am twice a week to go for a run with a bunch of ladies on the MBA, I choose to subject myself to prepping for finance challenges against other Business schools, I choose to not pass on lunch or dinner invitations with other MBAs and end up eating at home only 10% of the time

Coming to Oxford has been great for a number of other reasons; the breadth of the content offered in classes that has allowed me to explore things that are not directly related to my career, being a student who gets to experience all of Oxford’s 34 colleges and their history and still being able to go back to my tiny Benedictine College and sit across monks when I’m not particularly religious (and intellectually discuss issues of global importance), taking up coding and brushing up on my French and meeting amazing people from across the world.

Last semester was very important for me mainly because with all I was exposed to, one thing held constant, my commitment to invest in and help develop African businesses. It opened up different ways of thinking about problems I’ve seen and gave me the opportunity to make connections with people thinking about the same issues and opportunities in different ways. I look forward to building on this in the following few months.

The biggest lessons that were reinforced in my life were:

(1) expand your breadth of knowledge as much as you can

(2) prioritise things that are important, not just for finding a job, but to grow yourself holistically and

(3) get to know and share experiences with people around you as you don’t know what they may contribute to your growth and future goals.

Summarised in one sentence, the biggest lesson was: Carpe Diem, because you do not know what you might learn by waking up at 6am and spending your day involved in all of Oxford’s Universities activities!

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