From Oxford to the World: Lessons beyond the classroom

3 minute read
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I've always sought to join spaces that challenge and redefine my understanding of impact and leadership. The 1+1 MBA at Saïd Business School, one of the few schools that explore the relationship between society and business, gave me exactly that.

When I first got to Oxford, I was all set to learn new ideas in policy and business, meet people from across the world, and soak in the University’s vast history. Now, reflecting on my year and a half here, I see the real lessons I've learned go beyond my degree and network. Oxford has pushed me to reflect and redefine my perspective on leadership. I learnt the importance of leading with intention.

My experience here has taught me valuable lessons that I'll carry with me for life: setting intentional priorities, embracing my leadership style, and learning how to create opportunities for myself.

Setting intentional priorities

Oxford's 8-week terms introduced me to a pace of life I had never experienced. I found myself trying to balance a dinner party and a debate I was interested in. I juggled between experiences that aligned with my career, and new experiences that I didn’t know I was interested in. 

There's so much packed into 8 weeks that every day, I'm pushed to prioritise (and improvise!). I've learned to continuously reassess my priorities, figuring out how to participate in new activities while still maintaining a clear direction. I'm thankful for the opportunity to learn the importance of balancing professional and personal priorities in an environment that's both forgiving and challenging. It’s a valuable skill that I'm sure will serve me well through life.

Finding my own way of leading

Our MBA class includes students from over 63 countries, each bringing their own unique perspectives to the classroom. Despite our varied backgrounds in language, career paths, or nationalities, I've come to see that everyone I’ve met is a leader in their own way. 

Being exposed to such a wide array of leadership styles has shown me how limited my previous ideas of leadership were. For instance, as someone who's naturally introverted, I used to think networking meant I had to force myself to be more outgoing. However, watching my introverted peers navigate networking in their own way taught me the value of leveraging my own strengths. I realised that conventional notions of what makes someone 'successful'—like being a great networker or a public speaker—don't always hold true. 

Observing a variety of leaders, including those who lead quietly or introverts who excel at making connections, has taught me to embrace my own leadership style and appreciate the diversity in how others lead.

Creating opportunities

Oxford isn’t called the city of dreaming spires for nothing. The city is laced with inspiring buildings and breakthroughs, which serve as daily reminders of what’s possible. 

In my time here, I learned the true essence of opportunity—not just the grand, life-altering events they’re made out to be, but the everyday process of making choices and decisions. 

Every speaker I have listened to in Oxford often recalls moments of big change - these weren’t planned moments, and can be articulated as pivotal moments only in hindsight. And I think this mindset, to proactively reach out for opportunities with the faith that one of them might be pivotal moments, is a lesson I will carry with me throughout my life.

1+1 MBA