Joe Hooper






Public Administration


Sep 2016 - May 2018

By Joe Hooper

The in-betweens

With the end of Module 10 last week came the end of the first year that I have been in the EMBA programme. Module 10 delivered a punch with the hurdle of a business finance exam, the exhilaration of doing the pitch for the entrepreneurship project with a stellar team, and the start of the electives. Let us just say that the coffee budget of the business school was certainly ill-prepared for the havoc we would wreak upon it during that long week.

But as with all milestones passed, one can not but help look back at where you came from. You get to the top of the mountain, the first thing you do is look down the way you came. You cross a bridge and you look back. Business school is replete with metaphors of mountains and ladders and conquest of statures big and small, but none of them deal with that most human of reactions of passing a milestone, that of wanting to pause and see how we got there. So I indulged in some of this thinking about the past year of the EMBA programme. And what struck me was that what I recalled most were the ‘in-betweens’ – those moments that were book-ended by the formal parts of the course and were both heart warming and wrenching
In-betweens like rushing with some classmates through the Oxford summer rains to attend the baptism of our classmate’s baby, a moment that he was so kind to share with us, and that one year ago I could not have even thought of. Or that moment between module one and two when I was hiking with my wife through Petra and got a call from a hospital that I needed to drop everything and get to Vancouver immediately as my mother was ill. Or that time where I decided to write my first poem for the Sainsbury Library competition, and won (proving that more burgeoning poets should go to business school). Or another moment when I approached a classmate in a coffee break to join his entrepreneurship project and gained a friend for life. All of this, and more, in one year.

Perhaps some would argue that the in-betweens are not the stuff of Executive MBA programmes. And perhaps a year ago I would have agreed. But then I would have been wrong. The in-betweens are the moments I will never forget on this wild ride we call the Oxford EMBA. They all have left their mark, many will continue to do so. Six more months ahead, and I am hoping many more in-betweens.

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