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Elizabeth Wesche

Degree:

MBA

Location:

United States

Industry:

Consulting

Year:

2020-21

By Elizabeth Wesche

Get to know Elizabeth Wesche, Class of 2020-21

Tell us about yourself: Passionately curious and always interested in a good story, I’ve come to Oxford from parallel careers in strategy consulting and music. You can usually find me chatting with friends over coffee or exploring Oxford’s many parks and old buildings

Sector/Industry you worked in pre-MBA: Strategy Consulting / Music

Sector/Industry you are hoping to work in post-MBA: We’ll see

Country of residence before coming to Oxford: USA (Seattle, WA)

College: Green Templeton College

Social Media
Twitter:  @bethwesche
Instagram:  @ecw21
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/elizabethwesche/

Q1. In one word, how would your best friend describe you, and how would your manager describe you?  
Best friend: Vibrant
Manager: Poised

Q2. Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford, and more specifically, the Oxford MBA.
I’ve gotten to the point where pivoting and juggling multiple hats is more comfortable and familiar to me than following a straight line. My parents’ career in the U.S. Foreign Service meant that by the time I was starting to think about what to do with my life, I’d lived in four different countries and had developed the kind of wide-ranging curiosity about the hows and whys of the world that charms adults at dinner parties, but of which career counsellors despair.

After finishing my undergraduate degree, I worked brief stints in policy and science communication before landing at a boutique strategy consultancy in Seattle. My work revolved around how to bring the technological infrastructure, audience insights, and innovation that are so common in the private sector into the philanthropic sector. The work itself was fascinating, with dimensions of behavioural science, product design, and impact measurement that were new and exciting to me. I built a life and community I loved, surrounded by jutting mountain ranges, misty forests, and the beautiful Puget Sound. I also threw myself wholeheartedly into a parallel career in music. I found myself thinking: maybe this is it. Maybe I’m here for good.

But after a few years, I developed a nagging feeling that my world was getting smaller instead of larger. I started to notice that getting good at my job meant I was starting to have the same conversations over and over again. Meanwhile, I didn’t have the hard skills and understanding of business I needed to get to the core of the systemic questions I wanted to explore. I wanted to be in a place where I’d be surrounded by people who were thinking deeply about completely different things from me, and where the environment itself would force me to turn my perspective inside out. I’d been interested in Oxford for a long time, and when I began to consider pursuing an MBA, the school’s extremely diverse makeup and focus on impact across sectors made it an obvious choice.

I’m not sure what exactly I want to do next. But I’m learning to trust the momentum of my own life and take the leap even without knowing exactly where I’ll land.


Q3. What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?
On a practical level, I had a very busy summer heading into the MBA. I’d left my job at the beginning of the year with plans to travel, do some freelance consulting work, and spend time working on my music. Despite COVID-19 throwing my travel plans up in the air, I ended up shooting two music videos, releasing an album, and consulting right up to the week I left for the UK. This meant that I got an involuntary head start on learning one of the fundamental lessons of the MBA: prioritise!! I didn’t spent very much time on prep courses (shhh…). However, I did attend several summer sessions held by the Career Centre, and I stayed engaged with webinars and programming updates from SBS itself.

On a philosophical level, I spent a lot of time thinking about who I am and what I want to get out of my time here, both in terms of hard skills and less tangible experiences. I want to let myself be surprised this year, and not be afraid to re-evaluate both what I believe and where I want to go next – and I think I’ll get a lot more out of that experience if I know where I’m starting from.


Q4. What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?
New ways to win friends and influence people. A world-domination strategy backed by cold, hard numbers. A permanent tush-imprint from the chairs in the Bodleian.

Q5. What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?
Your time and your attention are your two most valuable assets; invest them wisely.

Q6. Do you have any advice about the Oxford MBA application process for candidates thinking of applying?
The members of the admissions team aren’t looking for reasons to reject you, they’re looking for reasons to accept you. Spend time thinking about how to articulate the parts of yourself you’re most proud of and the questions or goals that are driving you to want to be here in the first place. Talk your application through with friends and family to make sure it rings true. Don’t overthink the “right” responses; there is no perfect candidate. We all have our flaws, our weaknesses, our blind spots. I’ve met many of my incredible classmates in the last few weeks and I can assure you that we’re all very human. You’ll fit right in. Don’t be afraid to reach out to the admissions team with questions or concerns – they’re genuinely lovely human beings. (It’s literally their job to get great candidates to come here, so it’s in their interest to help you put your best foot forward!)

Q7. What part of the programme are you most looking forward to? 
Being surrounded by bright, interesting people who consistently surprise me and make me look at things in a different light. The way our courses and environment encourage us to try on new roles and ways of thinking to see what fits. Getting to know both my peers and professors, and what they’re thinking about and working on. On a more tangible level: probably the elective coursework and the Creative Destruction Lab.

Q8. What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?
Learning to say ‘no’ to things. Especially really interesting, exciting things.

Q9. How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?
I’m hopeful that the MBA will give me a broader, deeper overall perspective on the myriad ways one can better people’s lives both in and out of traditionally impact-oriented roles. I like to think that the more I understand about how businesses work, how people make decisions, and the competing priorities juggled across sectors, the more effective I’ll be at driving lasting change wherever I land.


Q10. Are there any sport teams, societies, or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?
There are so many options! I’m excited to listen to speakers at the Oxford Union (lifetime membership is free for SBS students). I’m trying not to get too involved in activities I already do outside of Oxford — I love the idea of doing something I’ll likely never pick up outside of a university environment instead. So far, I’ve tried pistol shooting and polo. (Pro tip: taster sessions (one-off introductory sessions held at the beginning of Michaelmas) are your friends!)

 

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