Jan 2015 - Sep 2016
Amidst heartwarming messages of congratulations and welcome to the University of Oxford, “You can do it!” exclaimed Kathy Harvey, EMBA Programme Director. “The next 21-months will transform you completely,” she promised, telling us emphatically that we would become different people and very different kinds of leaders by the end of the program. An exciting way to start a new adventure and journey for a dynamic cohort of 77 students from 30 countries, 20% of whom hold dual nationalities, and have an average of 14-years of work experience. The class age averages at 37-years and is 25% female.
A few words that describe the experience of module one: exhilarating, overwhelming, traditional as well as modern, fast-paced, world-class, intellectually invigorating and filled with reams of information and big fat heavy binders. Our first week was a sampler and a taste of things to come with lectures on relationships and finance, case study methodology, data analytics and statistics, leadership fundamentals, how the world looks to an economist, understanding strategy, and the global rules of the game. Deftly interwoven was a mix of team building, study group formation, college visits, tours and onboarding. Lockers, ID badges, back packs, and ‘sub fusc’ attire coupled with orientations around examinations, anti-plagiarism guidance, library and IT services, health, welfare and safety, along with a debate at the Oxford Union, completed a superbly well-planned week.
Our two programme administrators, Luke and Charlotte, were incredibly attentive and considerate and worked hard to make our first week a very special and memorable one. The facilities at Saïd Business School are truly world class and it was easy to settle into the lecture room and environment quickly. For the next two years, our classroom will be our boardroom. Something that was not lost on us. Gourmet on-site meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner) also made for a warm and comforting atmosphere.
I arrived early afternoon on Sunday 18 January and adapted to my new home away from home at the classic and very British Randolph Hotel (which incidentally serves a most fine high tea). It is well situated in the center of town and conveniently located across the road from the historic Ashmolean Museum, where Dean Peter Tufano and Kathy Harvey hosted a welcome dinner for the new class – an auspicious way to start the programme for EMBA 12. I took advantage of an advance arrival to get my bearings, walk around the streets and alleyways, wander around Christ Church College and locate a nearby Starbucks coffee shop. Walking is the fastest and easiest way to get around the center of Oxford and almost everything is within a brisk 20-minute walk. One of my first stops was the Oxford University Store to buy a couple of officially licensed tee-shirts to take home! Throughout the week we had the chance to visit several key buildings including Trinity College, the Sheldonian Theater, the Oxford Union, as well as some famous local pubs.
One aspect that most impacted me as I reflect on my first week in the programme, was the juxtaposition of becoming a student at one of the greatest universities in the world and the emphasis on humility, which was a strong theme conveyed to us by the leaders from Saïd Business School. “At Oxford, we are looking for leaders who want to change the world,” declared Kathy at the start of our program.” Are you one of them?
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