Diana Schwedhelm




South Africa


Fast Moving Consumer Goods



By Diana Schwedhelm

Get to know Diana Schwedhelm, MBA 2019-20

Tell us about yourself: Passionate and driven, I give 110% to all I do. I believe that if something is worth doing, it’s worth overdoing #gobigorgohome. I am most engaged when developing innovative solutions to mundane problems and aim to change the world one great idea at a time!

Sector/Industry you worked in pre-MBA:
Consumer Goods

Sector/Industry you are hoping to work in post-MBA:
Early Stage Venture Capital

Country of residence before coming to Oxford:
South Africa

Wolfson College


Q1. In one word, how would your best friend describe you, and how would you manager describe you?
Best friend: ‘Extra’
Manager: Perceptive

Q2. Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford, and more specifically, the Oxford MBA.
‘Just a small-town girl’, I was born and raised in the gorgeous Eastern Cape province of South Africa where I completed my schooling before moving to Cape Town to start my tertiary education. Since graduating 6 years ago, I have worked in two Brand Management roles in the Consumer Goods industry spanning food, personal care, home care and apparel.

In terms of what led me to choosing Oxford University (other than the simple fact that its Oxford University – need I say more?), I am extremely passionate about all things ‘innovation’ and was drawn to the schools strong focus on Entrepreneurship and Innovation through affiliations with the likes of the Entrepreneurship Centre and Oxford Foundry.
Furthermore, the Oxford MBA offers an unmatched breadth of diversity within the student cohort which means interacting with and learning from people from all walks of life. We have 64 nationalities represented in this year’s cohort. How amazing? Lastly, I would be lying if I said that I was not completely captivated by the old-world charm and strong traditions of the university and broader city. It really is a magical place for a student, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to attend such an amazing school!

Q3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?
In hindsight, I think my undergrad studies were instrumental in establishing the work ethic required to complete my MBA. I was a really committed student and was often jokingly teased by friends for taking university a bit too seriously and, for a few years post graduating, I wondered if they were perhaps right. At the end of the day, would the extra 5% or 10% on my paper/exam make a material difference to the career I have one day? And then I made the decision to apply to Oxford University and realised that without the sacrifices early on, I may never have had the opportunity to complete my MBA at a university like Oxford.

More recently, I have spent the last few months doing a lot of self-reflection, career research and preparation work around the subjects that I expect to find more challenging during the course.

Q4. What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?
In a nutshell, my hope is that the Oxford MBA will challenge my perspectives and offer insight into more effective ways of interacting with the world around me.

More specifically, I would like to use the course as an incubator for new ideas, a platform for network expansion and an opportunity to further develop and refine the skills necessary to launch a successful and sustainable business of my own.

Q5. What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?
“Don’t forget to pause every so often and take it all in”. I think it is very easy to get swept up in the MBA whirlwind that all too often we forget to appreciate how far we have come in turning our dreams into reality. It is the experience of a lifetime and I don’t want to miss a second of it.

Q6. What part of the programme are you most looking forward to?
I am really excited to complete the Entrepreneurship project in Hilary term which will allow us the opportunity to not only conceptualise a product / business idea but build a business plan and potentially take the idea to market.

Q7. What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?
I think the most challenging thing for me is definitely going to be around prioritising. There is so much on offer at Oxford and it is impossible to do it all. We are only three weeks into the first term and already the FOMO (fear of missing out) is very real!

Q8. How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?

Having recently witnessed first-hand the public panic as Cape Town declared a water crisis and began preparing for ‘day zero’ (at which time the taps would run dry and manual water collection points would be located around the city), I am particularly cognisant of the dramatic change that needs to happen from a water management perspective and hope to leverage the skills I learn in the GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford) project to have a positive impact in this space post-MBA.

Q9. Are there any sport teams, societies, or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?

Yes! I am so excited to be a part of the (novice) women’s rowing team at Wolfson College. Because…did you even go to Oxford if you weren’t on the rowing team? 

I also plan to get involved in the many entrepreneurship related events & workshops hosted by the Oxford Foundry and Entrepreneurship Centre as well as join the Oxford Venture Capital Network.

Q10. Lastly, what’s your favourite hashtag?
#gobigorgohome #livingmybestlife

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