Per magne Sviggum








Jan 2015 - Sep 2016

By Per magne Sviggum

A trickle of rewards

Five modules into the EMBA, meeting up with classmates in Oxford has started to feel like meeting old friends, and the slightly unfamiliar role as student has gradually become less strange. The week-long modules give us a chance to fully engage with the module subjects, and of course, with fellow EMBA candidates, both professionally and socially. Celebrating the birthdays surrounding each module has quickly become a class tradition and as one of four midsummer children I was on the receiving end of this cheerful initiative in June. Upon seeing our names in chocolate writing, it struck me that we all came from different continents: four very unlike trajectories, springing out from Africa, Asia, America and Europe, converging on a sponge cake in Oxford. What are the odds? Many warm thanks to our class’ fine organisers for drumming up a delightful midweek party.

An academic highlight for me this module were the strategy sessions. Having worked with visual identity, branding and communications for many years, I find a theoretical grounding in the principles that guide brand positioning very enriching. My professional role is often to translate a corporate strategy into visual language for a given target audience, but for some clients I also take part in developing a strategy. The best part of this course is that I can take it straight back to work and start employing my new insights to the benefit of my clients. I already look forward to our next sessions on this subject.

Although not immediately applicable in my current role, we couldn’t ask for a more pertinent time to study macroeconomics, given the economic turmoil playing out in Greece these days. I tend to think of macroeconomics (incidentally a word derived from greek) as the mechanics behind international politics, or as a framework for understanding the real reasons why countries and other signficant operators make the decisions they do. The world is complex, so when actions do not correspond too well with policies, a look at the underlying numbers and connecting some dots might offer some insights as to why.

Since embarking on the programme in January everyday life has become more task focused, with less time left for mindless diversions. Balancing paid work, school work, chores, training and family life is a demanding exercise in stakeholder management – none of these areas can be afforded to slip. An assignment or reading list is always waiting to be completed, so it is important to be conscious about the need for some rest and recreation, or face the risk of burning out. However, with the help of some basic planning and a bit of solid work I already find the programme rewarding, and even more so as we go along, because I see more clearly how the concepts of each core module interrelate with the others.

In just a few weeks we will converge again in Oxford, ready to sit our first exam of the course. At the height of summer, when most of my countrymen are preoccupied with building sandcastles, I will sit my first exam in gown, suit and tie, sporting a black ball point pen and a water bottle with a spout. No screw caps allowed.

Have a great summer!

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