When I applied to the EMBA at Oxford I was told I would not learn anything I did not already know. I was told this by a mentor who helped me found my business and by a friend who is a professor at an Ivy League Business School. They were both wrong.
We are one year into our EMBA and I know I have accumulated knowledge and skills unachievable if I had not come. I have also matured in directions unachievable if I had not come. I am so glad I did this. An analogy may help you better understand: Since I was a child I have played instruments. Mostly I am self taught; however, the times I have taken consistent lessons I have not only moved myself out of musical ruts and set new musical directions, but I also advanced my learning by 5 or 10 years. The EMBA feels the same. Time really is our only asset and so it must be used well. Perhaps I could have achieved a similar level of development, but it would likely have come too late. It seems unlikely I would have developed many of the skills, perceptions, and knowledge I have assimilated at Oxford had I not come –this is a gross understatement. I am going places I never would have gone were it not for Oxford.
In India, last April, Kathy Harvey, Associate Dean of the business school, said to me, “Oxford is not so much a place, it is a conversation.”. Kathy was quoting a friend in the University. This is true. To illustrate: I sat at breakfast on Saturday morning before heading to Heathrow with colleagues and classmates discussing evolution, the big bang, determinism, the enlightenment, Agape and Eros love, the oneness of creation, and how good the breakfast is at Bill’s (recommended). At one point I stopped and smiled, remembering Kathy’s words. Oxford really is a conversation; but, then I also realized that at home this conversation was not safe, it would not happen. Business and family relationships make these conversations awkward, even dangerous. At Oxford they happen. Not all the time, but they happen. I still feel a thrill when I realize I am a part of this conversation.
We have 9 more months, 6 more modules. Yes, it’s a lot of work; but, it would not be worth doing if it wasn’t. I am tired, but I do not want to see the end of this conversation. I have made some very good friends through these times. I have seen some sadness as well- you can’t get close without hurting each other, it seems, at some point. I suppose without sadness we would not savour happiness. I confess something that may seem a boast (glad this is an anonymous blog): I also came to Oxford to find friends I could have these conversations with, to find people that understood how I think, my situation as I struggle to lead others, and the difficulty I face as I try to understand the world and my role in it. I came to find people like me (I know, arrogant considering it is the greatest University in the World). I found them.
It is Oxford. It is an incredible conversation.Back to top of article