‘Go big or go home’ I told a friend who later became my MBA coach when he asked me if I was sure about Oxford. I did go big, and I am here now.
I have worked in risk consulting for the past seven years in various capacities; first as a team member and subsequently as a manager. I led diverse teams that worked with the risk management departments of banks to transform their risk management functions through robust policy and framework design, automated risk measurement and reporting tools and augmenting the capacity of risk management departments in maintaining best practices. After seven years, it was time to broaden my network, learn leadership skills and operate in a bigger financial market. The broadening of the market within my reach was important to me, especially because of the opportunity to practice in areas of risk management where I had not had the chance due to a narrow home market.
I started the MBA journey over a year ago with the goal of advancing my career through studying in a world class institution. My mind scampered round the many options although Oxford was among the paramount ones. I approached the MBA applications with fervour and some level of anxiety, but I was determined to see it through. It was indeed a self-awakening process that led me to sit with myself and reflect on my career and personal life so far. Shortly after I commenced my GRE preparations, I suffered a devastating loss which threatened my actual timelines significantly. Overwhelmed with grief, I developed hesitancy about the possibilities of continuing and finishing the journey I had just garnered the courage to start. I had grown so taciturn to an extent that there were days I would remain indoors with all interactions shut down. I just wanted to disappear, believe it or not.
Amidst this gloom, doubt and hesitancy, I kept receiving email reminders of some virtual interactive sessions I had scheduled with alumni from Oxford Saïd and some other business schools. I just happened to attend all of them because I looked forward to hearing the inspiring stories but not necessarily hoping to get out of the ‘near depressed’ state I was in. Those I interacted with could relate with my ordeals; they shared their own personal-life challenges and application journeys, their on-campus experiences and post-graduation stories. Hearing from them gradually rekindled my drive to apply. After a few sessions, I had fully resolved to apply, and I did. I leveraged their guidance and motivation throughout my application, and I am immensely grateful that they have availed themselves to buoy me up. I look forward to replicate their generosity for future cohorts.
The Laidlaw scholarship has enabled me to focus fully on the MBA studies without any financial burden. By their generous investment in me, the scheme affirmed my self-confidence and sense of value, while humbling me simultaneously. Being a Laidlaw Scholar has so far been an immensely surreal and enlightening experience for me.
Observations from my first week:
- time elapses quickly
- everyone is nervous in the early days
- be intentional about building meaningful lifetime friendships
- prioritise the most needed things and set actionable goals – I set aside the first weekend to process all the information from launch week one and positioned myself to structure my courses, co-curricular, extra-curricular activities and everything else in between to achieve my primary goals
- make time to decompress, talk to family and recharge to reduce the likelihood of burnout.
Altogether, I am confident I will receive a world-class business education, exposure to bigger financial markets, a diverse network, and the leadership training I need to advance to more senior leadership positions and other anticipated benefits from Oxford Said and the greater Oxford community.
I would leave you with this quote that rings true to my story…
‘I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that's how you grow. When there's that moment of “Wow, I'm not really sure I can do this” and you push through those moments, that's when you have a breakthrough.’- Marissa Mayer