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Per magne Sviggum

Degree:

EMBA

Location:

Norway

Industry:

Advertising

Year:

Jan 2015 - Sep 2016

By Per magne Sviggum

…and breathe

So that was the Analytics module: Thirteen cortisol-inducing sessions of risk analysis, optimisation, decision trees, Monte Carlo simulations and regression modelling. Plenty of fresh concepts to digest for a non-quant, but luckily our outstanding professor, Dolores, happily arranged impromptu extra sessions for us – both early and late – to relieve some of the tension many of us experienced this week. I felt a little comforted by the fact that more than half the class showed up for these extra sessions.

When the group assignments were handed out on Friday, the midnight oil was being lit in many seminar rooms, and on Saturday afternoon, as I was heading for Gatwick, I still spotted some high shoulders working hard on the case.

Although completely dominated by Analytics, we also had five very interesting sessions on Leadership fundamentals during the week. Learning about the different sources of power in leadership may be among the most important pieces of knowledge we will acquire in life, but we will have a chance to delve deeper into it soon. Assignments are queuing up for the spring.

Luckily, there are social highlights. Our February module coincided with the Hilary term graduate dinner at Brasenose College – another chance to dress up in our gowns and have formal dinner in the hall. Graduates reading for advanced degrees are invited to bring their supervisors, and the great thing about these dinners is that students and professors are seated about each other, with a chance to speak for a couple of hours without a set topic of conversation.

A seating plan is distributed by e-mail beforehand, so you already know where your place is before you show up, and I enjoyed all three courses sitting opposite one and next to another professor, both of whom lecture at the Business school. With such ready access to qualified wisdom, the dinner had value far beyond the nutritional, even though the guinea fowl was superb.

In Oxford we are spoilt for choice when it comes to extracurricular activities, and on Saturday I decided to join the follow up on the debate in Oxford Union at the end of module one. My good college mate, David, had taken it upon himself to organise a new debate for this module, and on Saturday morning about fifteen aspiring debaters met in Brasenose College to debate whether leaders are born or made.

Many good arguments were made on both sides, and, surprisingly, analogies to the behaviour of fish became a recurring topic during the debate. However, practicing to argue a case – perhaps even one that you don’t agree with – is a skill that comes in handy for essay writing students, so thank you, David, for the initiative. For the record, the house eventually landed where it started – leaders are born.

My wife and two eleven-year-olds joined me for the full week in Oxford this time, and although I had little time to spend with them during the week, it was an enjoyable experience for all of us. They now know the sights of Oxford better than I do, but on Wednesday they came and visited me at the school for a quick tour and lunch with the rest of the class.

Studying for an EMBA here is a huge commitment both in terms of time and finance, so having the support of my family, and involving them in the experience is vital. All the late nights poring over regression and optimisation models afterwards have shown this to be very true, and after finally submitting the analytics assignments I can breathe out and set my sights on the India module.

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