Sep 2018 - May 2020
Last week marked the completion of something that was more than a dream for me. In fact, I did not even dare to believe that I would ever become a student and postgraduate at Oxford University.
In 2018, following a rewarding career path and growth at Vodafone, I felt like I needed to go back to school, reinvent myself, refresh, and find a new path in my life and career. Maybe a mid-life crisis but this is how I ended up applying to a few Business schools for an Executive MBA programme.
Oxford Executive MBA programme seemed an impossible option but somehow, the faith pushed me into submitting a last-minute admission application form. The reality proved to me that usually we tend to score ourselves lower than our real potential. This statement demonstrated to be right as all my applications have been successful with some of the business schools even offering scholarships. Oxford Said Executive MBA was of course the best one but most demanding academically and financially. As I usually like big challenges and being strongly encouraged by my wife to “go big or go home”, I have chosen Oxford.
Perhaps some of you reading this article were in similar situations and considered doing an MBA at a certain stage in your life. In case you have not take this decision yet, I can only hope that after reading this you will find the courage to do it, as I did. Is never too late, and you can still make the impossible – possible.
Firstly, at a personal level, you proudly start to embrace the traditions of a world famous University. From discovering Oxford`s charms, millenary history, traditional college evening meals, to even believe that by wearing University logos hoodies you have become your own version of Harry Potter when entering the college dinning room. (pictured on the left).
Sadly, the magic won`t stop the challenges that you`ll be facing and you`ll need to deal with whatever life will be throwing at you. We had a dear colleague passing away during the programme, we had others having new-born babies, changing jobs, changing countries, moving houses…etc. but in the end, looking back, you become a different, better person.
Secondly, at the intellectual level, the bar is set very high and you must stretch yourself with every neuron you have, to deal with the amount of study, assessments and exams that you have to go through. Imagine doing this at a time when you already had no free time, being divided between work and family. Nevertheless, you are going to learn things that you have never imagined you could do, such as doing a company Balance sheet, Income statement and Cash Flow only using pen, paper and a desk calculator (no laptops and Excel allowed) or calculating the systematic risk of an investment portfolio (again, no laptop and Excel) or writing up a business plan for a new venture or evaluating a company and make M&A recommendations. All these you are going to master and be very happy reaching that level.
Being able to manage your time as you never though it’s possible, finding internal resources to study until late in the night after a busy day at work and most of your weekends, will make you a stronger, better person at all levels.
Thirdly, the quality and diversity of the cohort you are going to be part of is incredible! From Australia, Japan, Mongolia, Turkey, through Europe, Qatar, US, Canada, Brazil, Colombia you have them all, covering various domains such as healthcare, legal, finance, business, tech, marketing, entrepreneurs, etc.
Going through the 21 months of the programme, travelling for oversees modules in India, China, South Africa or US-Silicon Valley, you will end up with about 70 new family members across the globe that are always there for you to help or to show you their home countries if you happen to travel there.
The “work hard-play hard” describes very well the feeling but the overall experience is so intense and rewarding that will change you at all levels, so deep that you will find yourself making changes in your life and taking decisions that you were not courageous enough to take before, as it was the case for me.
Today, I am writing this article reflecting on my experience, driven by a strong desire to share with you all this to make sure that if you ever wondered how it is doing an Executive MBA, you dare to believe more in yourself and take the first step towards it.
As we all must stay home these days, our graduation ceremony had to be postponed for later in the year when we can all reunite and celebrate back in Oxford. For now, to mark the big milestone, we had a Zoom closing session Friday, with a special guest, Al Gore, the former US Vice President and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and beside his very inspiring words about our duty in the society and climate change, he quoted Antonio Machado “Traveller, there is no path. The path is made by walking.”
So, start walking and you might discover a path that you never imagined possible – dare beyond your dreams!
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