My Oxford MBA experience

6 minute read
Smiling Ayush working at a laptop outside

I always wanted to do an MBA; however, I did not imagine doing it at The University of Oxford. The MBA journey for me like most other candidates started a while before the MBA started; knowing that I am going to be pooled in the toughest and most cluttered demographic ie-Indian Male Applicant, my first biggest hurdle was getting a competitive score in the GMAT and then putting forward a compelling and distinctive application. After months of hard work (trust me the struggle was real) I managed to get the score I wanted and then applied to b-school. I wanted to pursue my MBA in the UK, as the new 2 year post graduate work visa enabled me to get work abroad without sponsorship and in the field of my choice.

There were three main b-schools in the UK which were top MBA programs – LBS, Oxford and 'The Other Place' and it seems that it was my destiny to be in Oxford. Accepting the offer for the Oxford MBA was the best decision of my life. I was initially wary of an intensive 1-year program, however in retrospect I am glad, as I believe executive education for more than a year can be quite a stretch as I am quite ready to go back to the workplace.

I have a background in hospitality, more specifically restaurants, bars, and cloud kitchen business. I helped grow my family business from 3 to 7 restaurants over 4 years involving leading and setting up a taproom & cocktail bar named 'Hammer & Song', which won the best resto-bar award in Mumbai in 2021, and a healthy food cloud kitchen named 'eat right chef'. After running 7 restaurants, we realized that the restaurant business is quite capital intensive and personalized. The path to scaling is very long drawn, requiring outside funding in order to maintain quality of operations (selling equity was something we were not prepared to do at the time).

Ayush in black tie

My reason for pursuing an MBA was so that I could gain the financial knowledge and learn the modern-day management tools along with getting the platform to work internationally in a large-scale hospitality / food tech company so that I could make an impact on a larger scale and be a part of setting the future of the hospitality and food business.

My Oxford MBA experience has been absolutely fantastic, definitely the best year of my life.

The experience as a whole is very intensive, a typical day for me would involve waking up early to complete my readings for class, then attending lectures and working on my career related activities, after which I would try to squeeze in a workout (run/gym/ cricket/tennis) and there would always be an MBA/ Oxford University event to attend in the evening.

Oxford as a university town has a lot to offer, as compared to studying in a city like London; Oxford has a small town vibe (all your friends live not more than 10 mins away, which keeps the cohort very united) and a big city energy (there is always a buzz around Oxford during term time with the events and entrepreneurial spirit in the air), additionally London is just a 50 minute train ride away.

The Oxford Union (The Oldest Debating Society in the World) is one of my favourite places in Oxford, I fondly remember speaking in the hallowed stage against the tide in favour of  capitalism in today’s world. It has a beautiful old library and a profound fully stocked bar to study and relax respectively. It regularly hosts highly influential and famous speakers- one of my most favourite events was when 'Sir John Sawer' (Ex Chief of MI6) came to the Oxford Union to give his perspective on the Russia-Ukraine crisis. I also attended great events of a similar nature at the Oxford Strategic Leadership Society hosted at All Souls College.

Ayush holding a microphone, speaking at the Oxford Union

As a student Oxford can give you a reason to wear 'Black Tie' almost every day with the plethora of formal dinners at the 45 different colleges and halls. Oxford has some quintessential British pubs enmeshed into the university culture, some of my favourite ones are The White Rabbit (most fun vibe with great pizzas), The Bear Inn (Open Since 1242) and Rose & Crown (serving a lovely golden ale named 'Trinity').

Academically, I really enjoyed the Private Equity Essentials & Entrepreneurial Finance class as I finally learnt how to build a comprehensive financial model. I also learnt a lot from the Analytics and Tech & Ops classes, which involved advanced data analytics techniques and six sigma and lean management techniques. I fondly remember the all-nighters I have taken to complete assignments, especially the one where I had to find out the 'Operational Challenge for a certain FMCG-Dairy company'.

Ayush kissing silver trophy in front of Eiffel Tower

I decided to make the most of my two big breaks in the MBA program, wherein I did an operations consulting project for the Oakman Group, which is a British Pub and Hotel company running over 40 pubs across the UK, during December and January (Winter Break) and went on a research and business expedition to New York (Spring Break) to validate and conduct further studies on a start-up concept my friend and I have.

One of the best parts about being in the UK is being able to leave the UK (LOL), the access to Europe, America and Africa is fantastic. Being in the centre of the western world and year away from work, meant weekend trips with my classmates to Europe-I have travelled to 7 countries this year (All Around England, Scotland, Portugal, Italy, France, USA, Spain), making the most of the weekend breaks to explore different cuisines and cultures. One of my most memorable moments was when we represented Oxford at the MBAT’s (MBA Tournament ‘Olympics’ in Paris) competing against the top b-schools of Europe and came out victorious. I was the captain of the MBA cricket team and winning a medal along with lifting the main trophy underneath the Eiffel Tower was truly special.

Ayush in cockpit flying plane, wearing yellow high vis

I exposed myself to multiple sports during my time in Oxford, I never thought I would get the opportunity to go leisure flying at the Oxford Flight club (with my MBA colleague who is a pilot), leave alone learning horse riding and rifle shooting at the Equestrian and Rifle club respectively. I also thoroughly enjoyed running at the Christ Church meadows and playing cricket in the parks.

As part of my college life, I was a member of St. Catherine’s college and travelled to Cambridge for a cricket match (winning in Cambridge is always fun) and being a professional mixologist, was the bar officer for my college MCR.

There are 71 different nationalities in the Oxford MBA program, and I am grateful to make beautiful lifelong friendships with people across the world. I will truly miss Oxford and cherish the memories I have here. I am now looking forward to graduating and excited for the next phase in my life. Oxford will always be special to me, and I dream of coming back here for an alumni dinner in a tux, ready to network.