My friends do not know this, but I have – what I humbly believe to be – a stellar collection of country music albums on my phone. As a Canadian, perhaps this is required. And so last week as my bus from Heathrow pulled up to Gloucester Green in Oxford for the first module of the EMBA programme, a song with that particular country twang came through my headphones singing, “…Make a little right from out of all the wrong…” I smiled as it summed up so many of the reasons why I chose to join the EMBA.
I have worked for the United Nations for the last 16 years and was on hand last year when the countries of the world agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals – an ambitious set of goals and targets to be achieved by 2030. Immediately congratulations on agreeing the Goals turned to questions on how exactly to achieve them. How do we eradicate extreme poverty for all people everywhere, or end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere, or sustain at least 7 per cent gross domestic product growth per annum in least developed countries?
New thinking, new partnerships, new financing modalities, and new ways of doing business are all required. And the Oxford EMBA to me seemed to offer the experience required to do all of the above, and by doing so to make a little right out of all the wrong that we witness daily in the world today. As I stepped into the business school I was curious to see how my views and interests would fit in.
And as I got to know my fellow classmates in the first module, I was heartened to learn that so many share the same sentiments as I do. They come from all walks of life – social activists, entrepreneurs, management consultants, heads of non-governmental organizations, accountants, engineers, communications and public relations, and many more. I listened to incredible personal stories of the sacrifices made, of the challenges overcome, of the times they celebrated victory and of the times they learned from defeat. And as it became readily apparent as the pace of the week hastened, many had a palpable dislike of the status quo and came to the EMBA to change it. But as we all learned, change cannot be achieved alone, and nor does it come easy.
But ably ushering us through the first module was the incredibly supportive staff and faculty of the Said Business School. Kathy Harvey, Associate Dean of the EMBA programme who wisely reminded us ‘don’t panic!’ as timetables and assessment information was shared and as sub fusc was donned for matriculation. Or the indefatigable Dolores Romero Morales who vanquished my fear of statistics in one day. Or Sue Dopson who turned all we thought about leadership on its head in the first 15 minutes and Owen Darbishire who drove home the seriousness and biases inherent in our decision making through a brilliant exercise. Through to Kurt April whose poignant story of change and leadership hit home in many ways, to Ian Goldin who did not pull punches in analyzing and exploring the trends that affect the world. And many more. All in one brilliant blur of the first week.
It feels right to be at Oxford for the EMBA for these reasons and many more. And with this class and this support staff and faculty, it feels like we will be able to make a little right – or lot more – from all that is wrong.Back to top of article