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Oliver Doraisamy

Degree:

MBA

Location:

Australia

Industry:

Government

Year:

2020-21

By Oliver Doraisamy

“Reflections from a whirlwind first few months: a note of gratitude”

I had heard from previous students that the MBA would fly by quickly, and a few months into the programme I can see exactly why!  Since starting Launch in late September, it’s been hard to find moments to pause and reflect, so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to write this blog post.

In fact, I’m grateful more broadly to be studying at this point in time. Of course, university life is in several ways more restricted than pre-pandemic. Compared, however, to the hardships many continue to endure as the pandemic and economic crisis rolls on, being able to study, to meet classmates and to still get so much value out of the programme is a privilege.

Before starting the MBA, I had three main priorities for the year. First, to build my skills and knowledge across a broad range of business sectors. Second, to focus my extra-curricular activities around social impact. Third, to enjoy the fullness of life in Oxford.  So far, it’s been a rich experience in pursuit of each of these goals.

To demonstrate, in our Organisational Behaviour class we’ve examined how cognitive biases can influence organizational decision-making and interpretation of data.  In Accounting, we’ve looked at different risk frameworks, and how performance measurement can be both necessary and a trap.  In Marketing, we’ve discussed the power of advertising to reflect, perpetuate or counter stereotypes, and considered real, live brand strategies.  As part of our ‘Global Rules of the Game’ module, we’ve debated the pros and cons of FDI liberalization in emerging economies.  And for our integrated assessment, we worked in groups to workshop and develop ideas for the aviation sector’s recovery from COVID-19.

In terms of extra-curricular, weekly Impact Finance workshops with classmates and practitioners have given me a deeper understanding of the impact investment life cycle. A virtual career-trek, together with students from London Business School,  provided fantastic insight into the workings of a number of Asian-based impact funds.  And as part of the Skoll Centre’s Impact Lab, we’ve explored questions such as “cathedral thinking”, systems change, empathic listening, and the difference between equality and equity.

As for life in Oxford, I’ve been grateful to go running and walking with classmates through beautiful Port Meadow. To celebrate – albeit with some restrictions – the centuries’ old Oxford tradition of matriculation. To listen to magnificent Evensong services at Christ Church Cathedral.  To study in a number of the university’s beautiful libraries. And, to participate in student-led Zoom sessions covering mindfulness, meditation, yoga and HIIT.

Looking ahead, it will soon be Christmas – time for further pause and reflection – before we start a busy term in Hilary. One aspect of Hilary I’m particularly excited about is our “Global Opportunities and Threats” project, where we’ll work in groups on the topic of systems reset, focusing on how we can move from crisis to transformation in terms of our health, social, economic and climate systems. I can’t wait to see the ideas classmates come up with!

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