Two months to the date of our first induction lecture at Saïd Business School, the one thing that strikes me every day whilst being at Oxford is, the people.
It sounds obvious when you think our cohort is made up of 355 exceptionally talented people, representing 71 nationalities, but, it goes much further than their professional experience and diverse backgrounds and it made me think about human connection. In all honesty, the topic isn’t new to me. As a certified life coach, personal trainer and lawyer “by trade” I work with people day-in-day-out and have always been fascinated by what makes people tick. What are you passionate about? What drives you to get up each day and do what you do?
The fundamental need for human connection is well documented by psychologists, neuroscientists, and indeed taught as part of our Organisational Behaviour course courtesy of Dr Michael Gill. We are biologically, emotionally and cognitively wired for human connection. It is deeply woven into who we are and the impact we want to have on the world. How though, does the quality of our connections impact us?
When applying to Oxford I definitely wasn’t in search of more connection. At the age of 30, I was emerging from my “roaring 20s” and a lockdown frenzy of zoom calls. The Oxford MBA experience, however, introduces you to a new type of connection. A connection that sparks from curiosity, openness and a deep willingness to learn. A compassionate connection rooted in giving rather than receiving; where people openly share their business ideas with you, encourage you to celebrate their national holidays as if it were your own, pick you up when you feel exhausted and share their hard-to-come-by Oxford residential car parking spaces (thank you Noi and Habib).
The Oxford MBA community provides deeper, more authentic connections than I have ever experienced. Don’t get me wrong, at times the conversations aren’t perfect; ineloquent, rambling, confusing, challenging. But this is where the real growth comes from. In the discomfort, the silences, the unknowing, the re-wiring. Where you are left thinking, what can I do? Where do I stand on that? What are my values? My MBA experience to date has taught me that when you explore and navigate the world’s dilemmas through connection, the takeaways are more meaningful.
It has also made me contemplate the unique Oxford environment. Saïd Business School is deeply embedded in one of the most prominent universities in the world. As a student, you are able to listen and learn from distinguished speakers such as Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, co-developer of the coronavirus vaccine and Brian Cox CBE, actor, director and producer. I believe this distinct social context and the people within it play a large part in forging such unique human connections.
I came to Oxford hoping to collaborate and learn alongside exceptional peers but I wasn’t prepared for the deep connections I have made in such a short space of time be it whilst having a coffee at Missing Bean or running across Port Meadow. I often think that the perspectives, expertise and empathy of my peers would outclass any political party. So to the 2021-22 Oxford MBA cohort, I vote for you. Thank you for sharing, for teaching and for openly and willing forging human connection. I am excited for what is to come.
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