Gerhard Mulder






Not for Profit


Jan 2017 - Sep 2018

By Gerhard Mulder

Your EMBA cohort is a safe zone

The third EMBA module took place in Bangalore, India. One whole week of classes, company visits, and socializing. Absolutely brilliant. Staying in the Leela Palace with close to 70 students plus SBS staff was nothing less than unforgettable.

But something interesting happened. This module I observed and experienced a deepening of relationships. We all took that red pill and shot down the rabbit hole, only to find out that this rabbit hole already has some interesting surprises for us. When I walked into the Ashmolean Museum in early January, I quickly realized that this bunch of students was a special lot. Why did anyone of you actually need an MBA? You are all doing just excellent … I look up to each and every one of my fellow travelers.

But this week I had several very intense, open and wonderful conversations. It feels that the positive experience of doing the EMBA sometimes opens a divide in our relationship with work. Stuff that we were able to keep up with we can’t take any longer. This includes myself. After working at an environmental non-profit for the last three years, I have difficulty reconciling the positive experience at Oxford with the lackadaisical situation at work. My batteries are fully charged when I return from a module. But not all is sunshine at work.

And I am not alone. I spoke with several students who experienced the same. I find it pure gold that we do not just look up to each other, but can also be there to listen, coach, exchange our experiences, and provide advice when needed. After this module this EMBA cohort to me is a safe zone in which we can share our successes but also our failures and insecurities. Someone once said that it is always summer on Facebook. We often feel compelled to put forward the best version of ourselves. But that is not necessary. The sun doesn’t always shine, and that is just fine.

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