Noman Tahir








Sep 2019 – May 2022

By Noman Tahir

And so the adventure begins!

Earlier this month, Said Business School welcomed the S19 Executive MBA cohort – a group of 67 accomplished individuals, who hail from 26 different nationalities and who I am so pleased to call my classmates.

EMBA welcome eventI met many of my fellow students for the first time at our welcome dinner at the Ashmolean Museum and was immediately struck by the diversity and experience of our cohort. The entire evening felt like speed dating on steroids – countless introductions and engaging conversations with new-found friends from Peru to Pakistan, South Africa to Singapore, and United States to United Arab Emirates. I was equally and pleasantly surprised by how quickly our cohort bonded and built friendships (our WhatsApp group, with over 400 images shared already, is steadily draining my phone’s memory!). The highlight of the week was our official matriculation ceremony at the Oxford Divinity School – an opportunity for me to dress up as Harry Potter and truly appreciate the journey we were about to undertake.

It’s not all fun and games, however, as we were thrown straight into the deep end with marathon three-hour long lectures on Analytics, as well as some fascinating case studies and group exercises for our Fundamentals of Leadership module. I am sure my classmates will share their own experiences over the coming months, but I wanted to jot down some initial observations and practical advice. This blog was incredibly valuable in helping me to prepare for my travels to Oxford, and it’s only right, therefore, for me to “pay back” and provide my own reflections:

The Oxford EMBA is not a programme but an adventure

This sounds like a cliché, but Said Business School offers so much more than the bog-standard MBA programme. There’s something inspiring about living, studying, and walking around a magical city like Oxford – the history, the architecture, and the academic buzz swarming the campus is infectious. The university was recently ranked the best in the world and the modules are designed to take students on an intense journey in both the lecture theatre and the real-world business environment. I know many in our cohort (including myself!) are looking forward to the international modules in places like Palo Alto and Shenzhen. It’s clear to me that the ideas we generate and friendships we build during the next 20 months will be life changing in many ways.

You will get out of this adventure what you put in

This experience will be like most other things in life – you only get out what you put in. The personality test we undertook before arriving in Oxford showed that I am a conscientious individual, among many other character strengths and flaws… Being conscientious is helpful as it’s important to be well-prepared for Oxford. Get your application submitted early, choose your college wisely (Keble for me, before anyone asks!), sort out your accommodation quickly, and plan your travel arrangements in advance. Take the time to digest the reading materials and reflect on how you can action the things you learn during the modules. And most importantly, as one member of the SBS welcoming party informed us early on: “whatever you do, DO NOT FAIL!”.

Have fun and enjoy the ride

Whilst attending our first module, we were joined in Oxford by the S18 cohort (who were busy with their exams and assignments) and the J18 cohort (who had just completed their end of course ceremony). It made many of us S19-ers realise that the next 20 months will be a whirlwind and it won’t be long before the programme comes to an abrupt close for us too. Oxford will broaden our horizons and provide us with so many opportunities to test ourselves and grow – it’s important therefore to soak it all in and make the most of this exciting adventure before we also make the transition from students to alumni.

EMBA S19 cohort

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