Maria Rotilu









By Maria Rotilu

“Maria, I think you’re on Mute!”

Although It’s been just seven weeks into the MBA, it feels longer; it feels more like halfway into the program. A lot’s happened. (in a good way!) We started without a lockdown, and now there is a lockdown. Thankfully, educational purposes are sort of exempt so we still get in person classes.

My week typically consists of school work, school prep (two separate time-consuming things!), my work with the Oxford Seed Fund and socializing with my remarkable classmates and the broader Europe VC landscape.

8:00 am: Alexa rings the alarm. I turn on my phone (new habit of turning off my phone before bed, going good), say a prayer, and get ready for class! I ask her what the temperature is at Oxford for the day; this informs how thick my coat will be.

9:00 am: Walking to class with my headphones reading an audiobook; Born A Crime by Trevoh Noah. It was recommended by a classmate during a walk. Trevor Noah’s performance of the audio book is fantastic!

9:15 am: I’m seated in my Business Finance class, coffee in hand and the lecture theatre with a quaint socially distanced group of about fifteen. I’m wearing a mask, but now used to it, I forget I have it on. We both calculate and have philosophical discussions about Net Present Value, portfolio diversification, Beta, and CAPM Capital Market assumptions in this two-hour class. By digging into the basics, we can build intuition on capital financing. I ask questions. I listen to people’s questions and comments. I quite enjoy this class.

11:15 am: I’m heading to SBS Café to grab my second cup of  coffee alongside fellow students in my section. We talk about the finance class and discuss the possibility of some student-led study sessions for those with non-finance backgrounds. Someone mentions that there is a support class offered by the professor.

I haven’t had breakfast and I am now hungry, so I grab breakfast at the SBS café. Today, It’s rice and tomato sauce with cheese and olives. The chocolate chip cookie is a favourite dessert option, so I get that too. The staff at the Café are so lovely, and their smiles alongside the cookie brighten my day.













12:00 pm: I have a coffee chat with a fellow student in the cohort. I hear her story and share mine. I think communicating and listening while wearing masks develops your non-verbal cues in ways you might not realize. You see the smiles in the eyes, the furrowing of the brows, the rapid blinking, the arm gestures; they all mean something and are weaving a story. We share our general sentiments on the MBA experience so far; we talk about our post-MBA plans, favourite classes etc. We find that even though we are from totally different countries and experiences, we have a lot more in common than we think! I cherish these 1:1s.

12:30 pm: I open my laptop. Lots of meetings to attend, emails to respond to, and I prepare for my next weekly meeting with the Oxford Seed Fund team.

1:00 pm: I attend a Marketing plenary where Jesse Bongiovi speaks about his journey with Hampton Water, his relatively new rose brand. (i promise it’s school work!)

I:30pm: I have 30-minute sync with an SBS alumni in a previous cohort who is currently an Investment Professional at a European Venture Capital firm and was gracious enough with her time to talk with me about the investment landscape in Europe and share her experiences. It was terrific; again, I cherish the 1:1s. I have another call with an amazing Oxford Affiliated Startup; Yoxly and talk about their business, and how the Oxford Seed Fund might help.

2:30 pm: I’m getting a little hungry, but not that hungry, so I grab another cup of (free) coffee.

2:45 pm: I walk home, and I continue listening to the audiobook; Born A Crime by Trevor Noah.

3:00 pm: I rest for a bit, and try to catch up on pre-read for the next day. Business Analytics; there are about two hours of content and some group work required. I check in on my study group via chat. I skim through some of the content; it’s basically statistical sampling and regression analysis. I dive in.

5:00 pm: Finally done! I take a break for the next hour and get ready for the event. I sneak in another meal. This time it’s an attempt at a home made sandwich.

5:45pm: I dial into a pre-sync call for the Oxford Seed Fund flagship event. We  refine the final details and align on flow. I speak passionately on the video call telling the team how amazing the slides look.

Maria, I think you’re on Mute!”

I laugh as I unmute. “Yeah, isn’t that the norm these days…[laugh], I was saying….

7:00pm: The event was great! I relax, catching up on a TV show. Did I tell you about my love for cyberpunk dystopian sci-fi TV shows?

After the TV Show, my husband and I talk about our days as students. Funny how we are in the MBA program together, but somehow have totally different daily experiences!

Till next time.




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