When I first stepped out of the train station last January, I had to pinch myself. This was actually happening.
I’ve always been fascinated by world history and as a kid growing up in the suburbs of Toronto, I ambitiously told anyone who would listen that one day I’d study at Oxford. I talked about it so much that when my eighth-grade teacher visited the university on holiday, she brought me back a t-shirt. But, life happened and I eventually pursued a career in research, making the aspiration feel more like a pipe dream (when I won the lottery or retired). As fate would have it, a friend who was enrolled in the 2022 Executive Diploma in Strategy and Innovation programme recommended it to me. I eagerly applied to read for the Executive Diploma in Global Business and the rest is history. After decades proudly sporting my (now tattered) t-shirt, I’d finally made it.
Fast-forward nine months and as I prepare for our last set of classes and final assignment, I’ve been reflecting on my experience. It’s difficult not to be inspired when you’re surrounded by people who make extraordinarily ambitious goals seem 100% normal.
Oxford’s rich history can be intimidating at first, like walking in the footsteps of intellectual giants. I’ve shared drinks with esteemed peers from around the globe, swapping stories and learning about their diverse cultures, industries, adventures, and passions… in a pub that John Locke, or Christopher Wren, or Stephen Hawking might have sat in. We’ve shared a dinner at Jesus College, founded by Queen Elizabeth I, in a room where T E Lawrence ate. We’ve awkwardly punted down the river, as Dorothy Hodgkin or J R R Tolkien might have done. We’ve studied in Harry Potter’s library.
It has been a privilege to learn from professors who are literally foremost leaders in their respective fields, both academic superstars and titans of industry. Plus, my peers are top-tier executives in their own rights, whose accomplished backgrounds are as varied as their area codes. Together, we’ve examined frameworks and discussed philosophical questions about effective leadership, diplomacy, and reputation. We’ve learned both contemporary and classical corporate and economic theories, had a crash course in geo-politics, and debated a myriad of real-world case studies.
At this point in time, when the world can seem particularly fragmented, this truly global programme has felt refreshingly optimistic, approachable, and inclusive. I’ve found everyone to be both interesting and interested. Professors, industry-leading guest speakers, and staff actually take the time to get to know students and welcome open discussions. Our education, however, has extended beyond the classroom. Faculty and prestigious guests join the class for stimulating conversations over coffee breaks, meals, etc. And, our cohort quickly became quite a tight-knit group thanks in no small part to our reps who organized countless social and networking opportunities (and are already starting to plan our unofficial '5th module' reunion!).
Overall, the Executive Diploma in Global Business offers a world-class education, combining academic expertise with an emphasis on collaboration and curiosity. The programme addresses today’s complex and dynamic business world, provides a deeper understanding of its historic and geo-political underpinnings, and better equips students to navigate its tomorrow. Moreover, my time in the programme has been a surprisingly enriching human experience - both humbling and inspiring. I feel very fortunate to be a part of this diverse, exceptional group and look forward to seeing how we’ll continue to expand the idea of what’s possible and work to help write the next chapter of our global history.
In the meantime, I think I’ll invest in some new t-shirts.