Alan Keeso









By Alan Keeso

A User’s Guide to Building Your Own Master’s Program

To Build Your Own Master’s Program, You’ll Need: Collaboration

Collaboration is what can make a Master’s program massive for your enjoyment, development, and career. Regardless of which school you go to, your Master’s pursuit serves as a platform to build something much larger than what’s on paper. The MBA program at Oxford University offers scales of collaboration that make the program world class. Here are just a few examples I’ve encountered:

Collaboration Amongst Classmates

The reality of an MBA program is that some classes will be easier than others, depending on the student’s prior experience. For example, I find that our Technology and Operations class flows like:

However, a Business Finance class can quickly become confusing and painful, a lot like:

When this is the case, classmates step up, and Mark did just that to help his peers in Business Finance, translating the teachings into an easily digestible format for the cohort to understand and offering his time to give support classes.  As is often the case, your classmates can be your best sources of knowledge.

Collaboration Between Students in Different Departments

The 1+1 MBA program provides unique inroads to collaboration with other departments. I recently partnered with Will (MBA – pictured below as the Debate Chair) and 1+1 MBAs Priyanka, Melissa, and Eve to host the first 1+1 MBA Debate. It featured an MBA challenge to Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and Computer Science (CS) graduate students on the motion, “This House believes that business has done enough to open its data to the public”. Joel (MBA – pictured on the screen below allegedly strangling a cat), Ellie (OII), and Hamed and Michael (CS) successfully opposed the motion. MBA students Greg, Chris, and Joyeeta teamed with Amba (OII) to argue in its favour. Furthermore, MBA, OII, and CS professors, Marc, Brent, and Sadie, respectively, made Special Guest Judge appearances in front of a full lecture theatre. As a result of this cross-departmental effort, we all learned and laughed with peers from other academic disciplines.


We also host the 1+1 MBA Thesis Talks series, which provides MBA students with an opportunity to learn about the research conducted by their 1+1 MBA classmates, including biomedical engineering graduates Laura and Heloïse, as well as DPhils, including Anna (Geography) and Emma (CS). This type of collaboration provides MBAs with insight into research in other fields at a world-class university.

Collaboration Between Students at Different Schools

My classmates Nick (US Marine), Jason (US Army), and I were invited by the Military in Business Club at London Business School (LBS) to attend a presentation that they had organized from McKinsey. These LBS MBA students didn’t have to include students from another school in their networking efforts, but they did, and we enjoyed meeting people with similar backgrounds in London. Beyond that, they are considering further collaboration amongst army backgrounds by facilitating gatherings with Cambridge and INSEAD. This serves as an excellent example of how students in different Master’s programs can collaborate to heighten the student experience.


Collaboration Between Business Leaders and Students

Leveraging professional networks is a no-brainer throughout a Master’s program. The Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment (SSEE) at Oxford’s Department of Geography has a team of Visiting Fellows that bring a wealth of business knowledge to environmental topics and vice versa. Peter Lacy, a Senior Executive Partner with Accenture, and Mike Barry, Director of Sustainable Business at Marks & Spencer, are two such Fellows. It would only seem logical to explore opportunities to engage the SSEE Fellows, and an appropriate platform for that can be found in one of our summer options for the MBA program: The Strategic Consulting Project (SCP). To that end, we are presently creating one or more SCPs through partnering with SSEE and their Fellows. While SSEE and Saïd Business School are two separate schools within Oxford University, similar interests create great chances for MBA students to build upon their Master’s program.


Explore your Avenues for Collaboration

Oxford offers many avenues for its students to collaborate. The challenge for students is to get creative and explore where these avenues are or could be. I’ve only outlined a few examples, and my classmates could quickly expand on these, but if you’re thinking of returning for an advanced degree look for a school where the potential to build your own Master’s program is high. Here at Oxford, the potential is limitless.


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