Jan 2017 - Sep 2018
Reminiscing about a much enjoyed holiday with dear friends, my six year old daughter asked me “don’t you wish you could sometimes turn back time?” I wasn’t sure what to make of this. At six she doesn’t have much time to turn back and I hope no regrets. I knew what she meant though, there are some deliciously enchanting times in our lives that it would seem wonderful to relive and it’s tempting to want to turn back the clock. Returning in later life to being a student is somewhat akin to a journey back in time, particularly for Executive MBAs where most candidates are “advanced career professionals” (that’s a euphemism for old students). We’re suddenly thrown back to libraries, text books and tutors; class room antics, late nights and deep conversations; lectures, relentless assignments and exams (and the possibility of failing them. Eeek!).
There are not many moments in life when we have another chance to approach an experience afresh, at least not in such a conscious way. That means there is a bit of pressure on to make the most of the opportunity of an EMBA, not just academically and professionally, but as part of our personal journey too. As an undergrad or young masters student there’s less perspective to fully appreciate the great privilege of the freedom of time and place to learn. When you come back to study later in life and step out of the frenzied flow of a career and family life (and are appreciatively aware of the sacrifice that’s being made to support you), you want to savour as much as you can.
One can’t help but be drawn back to the younger self. It’s refreshing to return to the student mindset of curiosity, openness, the belief that anything is possible. Indeed, I think it’s one of the underlying reasons why many of us embark on this journey, to reinvigorate that spark of joy of learning and maybe another opportunity to be the student we’d wanted to be if we could have the chance again.
I did make some promises to myself, engage with as many people as possible and relish the opportunity to be with a diverse group of capable and passionate people; make the most of the wider learning, unique history and eclectic hotchpotch of deep expertise that Oxford has to offer; and avoid all night essay crises. So far, 8 months in, I’ve made progress on the first two but failed rather miserably at the latter, although it’s definitely not the bit I wanted to re-live, maybe not much has changed after all! I was sort of hoping it might be easy this time. But if it was, I probably wouldn’t be learning anything. Now, what might my younger self advise in such a situation? “Don’t over think it. Just let go and enjoy the 2.0 ride.” Let me see if I can just schedule that in . . .Back to top of article