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Sara Sabisch

Degree:

MBA

Location:

United States

Industry:

Finance

Year:

2021-22

By Sara Sabisch

Meet the Oxford MBA Class of 2021-22: Sara Sabisch

We are excited to welcome the Oxford MBA Class of 2021-22 to Oxford this September. Get to know our incoming students in this blog post series as they prepare to join Saïd Business School.

Tell us about yourself

Sector/Industry you worked in pre-MBA: Financial Services

Sector/Industry you are hoping to work in post-MBA: Financial Services

Country of residence before coming to Oxford: USA

College: St Hugh’s

In one word, how would your best friend describe you, and how would your manager describe you?

Best friend: Effervescent
Manager: Accountable

Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford, and more specifically, the Oxford MBA.

I come from a military family. My dad was in the Army, so I am “from” many different places across the United States. I was born in Colorado, and before my first birthday, we had moved to Virginia; we moved a lot! We did not live in any particularly exciting places, but even in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, families from many different and diverse backgrounds were brought together, which was exciting. I think having community is one of the reasons military families can be so resilient to unpredictable challenges and uncertainty.

I fell in love with finance in college because it was so dynamic and unpredictable. I was also attracted to the opportunity to be a leader if I could prove myself in a “man’s world.” This energy came to a head during my junior year of college when a well-renowned alumnus from a bulge bracket firm came to address the top students in the finance program. I was so proud to be in attendance! When it came time for Q & A, I asked him, “What advice do you have for us as the next generation of leaders?” I was astounded by his response, “Oh, you think you’re taking my job?” The moment became instantly tattooed on my brain.

His response made me ferocious – I do think I’m taking your job. It started a fire within me that propelled me through graduation and looking for my first job. This ferocity changed, though, once I started working for Fidelity. The culture completely shifted my focus- It wasn’t about his question; it was about mine—the next generation of leaders. My focus wasn’t on achieving a specific title; it wasn’t even a distant objective; it was now that I could make my mark as a leader without his job. So it’s time to find an answer to my original question: “What advice do you have for us as the next generation of leaders?”

That’s what brought me to Oxford, and specifically the MBA.

I applied to several different programs over a few years, and mentors and colleagues would tell me, “That’s just not you.” Fidelity is based out of Boston, so perhaps the obvious choice would have been Harvard. I went to the campus and sat in on a class, but it just didn’t feel right for me. When I went to Oxford, it just felt like home. It was competitive but also very collaborative- I saw people working together from different backgrounds and cultures. Families welcoming other families, it was just like how I grew up. More than just the culture of the school, I was attracted to the focus on responsible leadership. I also wanted to broaden my technical skillset; because my undergraduate was in finance, I saw more breadth in an MBA than an MFin/MSF.

What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?

I spent the six months leading up to the MBA as an intrapreneur, developing a new framework for financial literacy content. I had the unbelievable opportunity to develop my idea through the Founderie of Fidelity’s Center for Applied Technology. It was a profound experience leading an international team through the design thinking process. I gained a new perspective on leadership and teamwork, that I hope will make me a better resource to my classmates.

What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?

Professionally, I hope to refine my leadership brand and broaden my technical skillset. Personally, I hope to gain a more global perspective and a lifelong network of friends that I can continue to learn from.

What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?

One particular mentor comes to mind with this question, who has been enormously generous with his personal advice and encouragement over the years. He has so many great stories that make his advice so memorable, but at the core, he’s always advised me to be intentional, grow with every opportunity, and stay authentic.

Do you have any advice about the Oxford MBA application process for candidates thinking of applying?

Any top business school can get you a seat at the table, but what do you want from your own table? Be thoughtful and honest about who you really are and what you want to accomplish. What are the types of problems you want to solve? What are the values you lead with? What do you want to learn from those around you?

What part of the programme are you most looking forward to?

I’m most looking forward to getting to know my fellow classmates, learning from them, and experiencing new things together. I’m also excited for the GOTO project and finding out what this year’s theme will be!

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?

Prioritizing my time wisely and deciding what to say “no” to. These next 12 months are going to go by in an instant, and I know I won’t have time for everything!

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

I think a lot about the “multiplier effect,” and know there is opportunity to create organic positive change by being a better leader and leading by example. I also hope I can be a role model and mentor to other female leaders, and perhaps we can be one day closer to achieving true gender parity. As a specific change to focus on, I’d really like to be a part of a team that makes meaningful improvements to financial literacy and inclusion.

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

I’m hoping to take part in the Student Council, and MIINT (MBA Impact Investing Network & Training) within the business school. Outside of that, I’d love to play the croquet Cuppers tournament, and if scheduling permits, play some polo as well.

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