Joao Vitor Antonini






Pulp and Paper


Sep 2018 - May 2020

By Joao Vitor Antonini


During startups era, talk about tradition is seen as prehistorical behavior, since disruption and tradition apparently do not go along. Nevertheless, this week in Oxford showed me that long term values and rituals lay a powerful cornerstone for business activities, that are deeper than a business canvas, something called ethics and governance.

9th module of the Executive MBA starts with our first exam, accountancy. In addition to the usual preparation for exams, meaning hours of reading and practice of exercises, it is important to dress properly. In Oxford, this means to wear your subfusc and a flower in the lapel. A strong contrast of today corporate life, where the casual dressing is almost mandatory.

But how does it feel to dress properly for an exam? First, you feel odd, because it is not natural, out of your comfort zone. Afterward, you feel intense respect that only tradition evokes, and not respect towards others, but somehow respect within yourself. To prepare yourself not only internally but also externally shows the importance of this act, a test of knowledge to prove yourself a master of a new skill.

Advancing the week, one of the best discussions during the EMBA awaits in governance and ethics lectures. Discussions that go deeper than functional structures of a company, and include intense reflections about practices and role of companies in society. But what called my attention is that when you go deeper in the subject, you find that references recall the old Greek philosophers, especially talking about virtuosity. This is the second occasion that tradition plays an important role in the week, this time showing that old values could be a lighthouse for complex business decisions, transforming discussions about higher profit in a profound dialogue about how to do business and sustainability.

Therefore, Oxford once again is trying to elevate business people on the EMBA, not only in terms of defying the status quo but showing some forgotten positive aspects from tradition. And yes, tradition could go along on the disruptive era of startups. Rephrasing, tradition must go along since it is through the long-term values and virtuosity of doing business that we create not only an innovative environment but also lay the ground for sustainable business activities.

Joao Victor exam desk

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