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Bosco Lai

Degree:

EMBA

Location:

United States

Industry:

Banking

Year:

Jan 2020 – Sept 2022

By Bosco Lai

New Doors

My first week as an Oxonian flew by way too fast. To all my dear friends and family who asked how it went – it was so humbling that I felt like a grain of sand, yet it was so enabling that I felt like there are no boundaries to what I could accomplish.

Hello Oxford!

Oxford. I tried to recall the first time I came across the School. I surmised that I was about 7 years old when my mother gave me a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, published by the Oxford University Press. Being on the campus grounds was quite surreal. It marked the start of a new chapter.

Our experience began with a welcome dinner at the Ashmolean Museum, where we met our cohort and the programme team. Immersed and inspired by thousand-year-old sculptures and art, we shared a memorable evening filled with questions such as “where are you from?”, “what do you do?” and “what brought you here?”. Those curious conversations continued throughout the week.

EMBA J20 class - Dinner at the Ashmolean Museum

Next morning a few of my new friends walked from our residence to Saïd Business School (SBS).

Thatcher Business Education Centre - Saïd Business School

We arrived at the lecture room where we would be challenged, surprised and transformed in the next 21 months and beyond.

EMBA classroom

Diversity is Beautiful

Over the next few days we dedicated a good amount of time getting to know each other. There were 74 of us in the cohort representing 33 nationalities and 23 different industries. Diversity came in countless forms. Each of us had a unique combination of upbringing, professional & personal experiences, motivations, strengths & weaknesses, struggles, dreams and goals. We are all storytellers and it was truly fascinating.

EMBA J20 class

To prepare us for the coming months, there was an emphasis on honesty, be ready to unlearn what we know, be open minded and be free. The narrative of accepting and embracing diversity organically prepared us for equipping ourselves with multiple tools and fill our minds with vast point of views for different situations.

Matriculation

Thursday night we headed over to the historical Divinity School (or you may know it as the Hogwarts Infirmary that Harry Potter attended) in our gowns and sub fusc for the matriculation ceremony. It was a short but touching ceremony. By the end of it, we officially became a part of the Oxford community. Many pictures of many happy and hopeful faces were shared within the new global family.

EMBA J20 Matriculation at the Divinity School

Highlights and Takeaways

There were many invaluable moments and lessons. Of those, here are the ones that made a special impact on me:

  • EMBA is not just a programme – it is an experience and journey. The sessions and modules are meant to guide and enable us to broaden our views and thoughts, which in turn allow us to generate revolutionary objectives and big ideas. The Oxford platform (which I broadly include the cohort, faculty, SBS, Foundry, Colleges, alumni network etc.) is so extensive that if we are determined, ideas can become reality.
  • Cohort will be your lifelong friends – love them or hate them, we will learn how to collaborate in challenging situations and assignments. Once again, embrace diversity and remember to listen and reflect.
  • We will, one way or the other, sooner or later, be transformed. We will come out of the EMBA experience a different person. Looking forward to that!
  • “Honeymoon” ends after module 2 and it will be all uphill (or downhill depending on your point of view) from there.
  • The Oxford Retreat, one of the closest pubs to the school, often ran out of Guinness. Order extra while they have it.
  • Lunar new year was not forgotten! Greetings seen around SBS.

Lunar New Year at Saïd Business School

  • Khali Gibran’s work is wonderful. Quoted by Prof. Kurt April in reference to one’s attitude to life – “Verily the lust for comfort murders the passion of the soul, and then walks grinning in the funeral.” – The Prophet.
  • Appreciate failures, learn from them and grow! The Wabi Sabi or Kintsugi way of viewing and bearing failures.
  • “Be the best for the world, not only best in the world”–these were the parting words from Prof. Kurt April as we completed our first week on a high note.

Oxford, thank you and see you again in a few weeks… enough blogging, back to reading.

EMBA reading

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