Joe Hooper






Public Administration


Sep 2016 - May 2018

By Joe Hooper

Turning Points

It was Wednesday night at 2100hrs and our GOTO group was still debating and discussing the finer points of our assignment:  what were the future implications of work in financial services when analyzed through the lens of selected macro trends?  It had been a long day full of classes with new material, intensive discussions, followed by an abbreviated dinner, a moment to check in on work, and then right into the study group meeting.  Like the Loch Ness monster, a bottle of whiskey may have surfaced at some point and done the rounds of the study groups, though the photographic evidence has proven to be neither compelling nor convincing. As we got deeper into the discussions, the dynamics of the group were unbeatable – serious discussion, industry perspectives offered, debate conducted, and plenty of laughter. I looked down the hall that evening and saw many of my classmates similarly engaged.

Oh how the relatively carefree days of Module 2 seemed so far away. The pace of the EMBA was definitely quickening.

Module 4 was a turning point for me – as I think it was for many fellow students in EMBA S16. The parallel assignments were coming due, the material was relatively new, and the amount of group work was significant. On top of that there was the rush of work at the beginning of a new year, and perhaps a bit of shock for those who had taken holidays in December. Though the Admissions department is rather clear in your letters what an undertaking (I believe they use the word ‘commitment’) the EMBA is, living the reality of it is somewhat of a different matter.

During this module though we had the opportunity to meet the EMBA cohort ahead of us who offered some sage advice over a formal dinner one evening: a shift in perspective is required to make it through the EMBA – marathon, not sprint – matched with diligent time management, persistent recollection of why you signed up for the programme in the first place, and making the most of the opportunities that are available in Oxford.

But I also saw another factor emerge during Module 4 that may be as critical to getting the most from the EMBA programme as anything else – namely the classmates.  As the pressure increased over the week, I saw colleagues reach out to each other to help think through the assignments, share approaches or perspectives, or blow off some steam if a group process had gone awry.  It seems another turning point was reached, and as we go through the course, EMBA 16 is making its mind up to come together in support of each other, and ensure that everyone succeeds in the programme. No small feat for 60 individuals from all over the world who had never met each other 5 months ago.

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