Spring is upon us once again in Oxford. It was exactly a year ago when I first set foot on this historic campus for my Executive MBA admissions interview. Six months into the programme now, I have made fifty-seven new friends from around the world, who are travelling on this intellectually stimulating and fast-paced journey with me. The world around us is in flux as we entered 2017. Trump is now the U.S. President, Article 50 has been triggered for Brexit, populism is on the rise in western nations, London and St. Petersburg were recently attacked by terrorists, and robots are becoming the new factory workers…One thing that is certain is that the world around us is constantly changing.
This theme resonated as a few of us had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Ian Goldin, Professor of Globalisation and Development at the Oxford Martin School, as part of the 2017 Oxford Literary Festival. Professor Goldin first spoke to our EMBA class back in September when we started the programme. Listening to him again, after having experienced the many geopolitical changes in the last six months, we found the insights he shared on globalisation at the dawn of the fourth industrial revolution even more impactful and relevant in our development into global business leaders.
Technology has accelerated globalisation, and we are more connected than ever before. For our EMBA cohort, social media, video conferencing and instant messaging have enabled us to stay connected in between modules. While technology allows us to constantly be in touch, our class recently had a discussion, and we agreed that no communication tool developed thus far can replace the quality time we spend with one another when we are all gathered at Oxford. No online class lecture can replace the high energy and ideas we exchange, when we are physically sitting next to one another during the live classroom discussions. Holograms of professors and students in a virtual classroom can supplement our education experience. However, they will never fully replace the face-to-face interactions we have, when we are physically together on campus. This is why no matter how demanding our personal and professional lives are outside of the classroom, or however long the airport security lines and plane rides are for us to get to Oxford, we look forward to going to campus each month to meet one another.
To that end, our cohort is very lucky to have the Vincent’s Club open up especially for us on Sunday night before class, so we can all gather to catch up with one another, and listen to a talk by our fellow classmate on his experience as a war correspondent reporting from the front line in conflict zones. We also had a very special formal college dinner later in the week, where a fellow U.S. Army veteran classmate gave an inspirational speech about courage and being an agent for positive change to the class.
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