Sep 2018 - May 2020
“Entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid.” Bono, U2
This is the quote that came foremost to mind after Module 2 of our EMBA program. While the week consisted mostly of massive hours of Analytics (what we used to call statistics back in my day), we also had our first class meeting on what is called GOTO which stands for Global Opportunities and Threats Oxford (https://goto.sbs.ox.ac.uk).
But first, back to Analytics. I was impressed with the patience of our instructor. The class is highly diverse with widely varying backgrounds. It was challenging to teach the material. For many, it was material that they knew very well while others may have had little previous exposure. By the end of the week, many had brain fog from Monte Carlo simulations, multiple regression analysis, t- stats, standard deviations and Analysis of Variables (ANOVA) charts.
I have many friends and colleagues who have attended top “name” business schools in the US and I was always a bit intimidated by the cutthroat competitive attitudes in these schools that some of them described. Here I can say that what impressed me the most was not only the patience of our instructor, but the amazing willingness of my classmates to share with, help, and support each other. Perhaps it is just my cohort, but I felt that not only is there a strong ethos of social consciousness at Oxford, but that it is demonstrated on a daily basis in how students, staff and faculty treat each other.
The week before we had arrived back at Said, the new Financial Times rankings of EMBA programs was released that showed that Said had dropped several places in the rankings. While many other top programs had also dropped significantly, this was disconcerting as the decision to invest in the program is not one that can be taken lightly and a certain return on time and funds invested is expected by those choosing to attend. Within a day of the rankings being published, the deans of the school had already responded to concerns mooted by our classmates and a question and answer discussion period had been set up with the deans to address questions and concerns.
Fully forty percent of the new FT rankings were based on factors related to compensation but when programs were ranked by graduates on “Aims Achieved” Said was still ranked in the top three of all programs looked at. To me this speaks to one of the program’s uncontested strengths: participants’ goals are not linked purely to increasing their monetary compensation but rather to broader strategic career and life goals. Many are interested in starting new businesses, changing career paths or transitioning to different industries, changes which often result in lateral moves or starting over again on a new path, moves which do not always lead to an automatic and linear increase in compensation. So if you are solely focused on increasing your pay, Said may not be for you. But if you’re interested in broadening your horizons, changing careers or companies or starting up a new business, in an environment that is socially conscious and supportive then I don’t think you can find a better place than Oxford.
The school has a strong focus on social consciousness and Global Threats and Opportunities Oxford (GOTO) was our first formal exposure to this. This year’s topic is “The Future of Energy” and will tackle global climate and energy issues through the lenses of Systemic Change and System Leadership. Past years have looked at topics like Demographic Change, Big Data, Water Management and the Future of Health. My group will be looking at environmentally sound ways to provide energy for over one billion people who do not currently have access, a goal identified by the United Nations as a critical Sustainable Development Goal (SDG).
We also began preparing for our first International Module which will take place in Mumbai, India. With millions still living in poverty and without reliable access to sustainable clean energy, the topics we will study in GOTO overlap with our study of emerging markets — Global Rules of the Game begins by looking at India and its issues of sustainable and responsible growth. One week out from Module 3, everyone is hurrying to finish our first graded assignment in analytics before leaving for Mumbai just a few days from now. Good luck everyone and bon voyage!
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