Stephen Douglas




United States


Public Administration


Jan 2016 - Sep 2017

By Stephen Douglas

Arriving in Oxford

I arrived at Heathrow to begin the first Module of Oxford University’s Executive MBA course with my cat. I work as a diplomat within an international organisation. For the past year, I have been working in a conflict zone. Last July a soldier at a checkpoint suddenly and irrevocably handed me a tiny kitten that had been wounded during the previous evening’s fighting. It was the same day that I heard that Oxford Saïd Business School had accepted me into its EMBA programme! Deciding that day to take on the long-term commitment of looking after a cat was easy. Other potential choices I am presented with in work, however, are harder to find solutions for than suddenly deciding to become responsible for a very sweet cat.

I had selected the Oxford EMBA programme for a few reasons.

It held out the prospect of helping me to find ways of improving how I make decisons in work immediately after each of the week-long modules had finished.

It also promised to provide me with a new toolkit, which would enable me to better influence positive solutions to global problems, such as global water management.

The Oxford EMBA’s emphasis on developing what it calls “corporate diplomats” intrigued me, since I am a diplomat. Could my evolving skills as an actual diplomat, I wondered, have relevance within the corporate sector, in change management, for instance, or indeed in bridging the gap between enterprise, people and governments in different sectors?

Ever since I participated in my first change management project as interim executive director of a political party, I had been interested in the methodologies available to Change Managers to transform organisations. The Oxford EMBA course promised to teach me to design and implement effective change management strategies on an organisational level and on a grander more global scale.

Oxford, too, seemed to take Gandhi’s approach to change. Students would be asked to look carefully within themselves to find the right ingredients to become the best leaders which they could be. The Saïd Business School seemed to promise that it could show self-aware EMBA students how to become the change they wished to see in their corporations, their sectors and, indeed, in the rest of the world. Oxford seemed to be interested in teaching individual high-achievers to become self-reflective and conscious leaders.

And, finally, I selected the Oxford EMBA because Oxford University’s global reputation for excellence was a guarantor of inspiring and effective teaching.


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