Embarking on the MBA journey as a founder has been nothing short of a transformative adventure, akin to entering Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory only this time, it is for rich experiences, unique opportunities and great people for a year.
Picture this: a classroom filled with vibrant discussions, the scent of freshly brewed coffee from the café, and the hum of diverse minds coming together. That's the Oxford MBA - a place where you can savor the sweetness of academic knowledge but also choose the right flavors that align with your entrepreneurial journey.
Some memorable classes were Technology and Operations with the insightful Professor Agni Orfanoudaki. We delved into real-world cases involving Burger King, McDonald's and JetBlue Airways. Concepts like Little’s Law, Cross Training and the Kingsman equation became powerful tools for enhancing operational systems. Applying some concepts to my venture and answering the question, 'what does this mean for Mwanga?', after every class interaction, provided invaluable insights and helped me set clear next steps for action.
Beyond the targeted courses aligning with my business needs, the MBA is giving me an upgrade of two invaluable skills: time management and strategic prioritization. Walking into the cohort felt like having access to a chocolate buffet - a treasure trove of rich courses, brilliant classmates, seasoned faculty, and endless opportunities for career and business development and vibrant communities. Then, wearing multiple hats - student, founder, co-chair of the Africa Business Alliance - clarified the importance of entering the chocolate factory with a clear goal. It meant deciding which 'candies' to pick and which to let go, embracing choices and making the most of them. I quickly started to declutter my calendar and plan intentionally by term, month, week and day. This urged me to maximize every moment and be present wherever I have decided to be.
Accepting the reality that you cannot connect with all 330+ classmates or attend every event has been liberating. The act of strategic thinking, deciding, prioritizing and doing has become a joy. Whether it was a 30-minute coffee chat with an interesting classmate, enjoying a therapeutic retreat with 25+ impact driven friends at Impact Lab, a games and music evening with cool people, a nap or a stroll along Port Meadow. Each moment is an investment. Time and people are true gold, you begin to make intentional choices in building friendships and engagements. Other things do not really matter so do not stress about it.
As the MBA year unfolds at an astonishing pace, I find myself immersed in a transformation process. The journey has been a lesson in structuring a life like 'Eden', where more intentionality, productivity and time management is the order. Like the endless supply of chocolate that Charlie was able to win in the end, Oxford is the gift that keeps on giving but this depends on how you frame your year based on your goals. I am forever appreciative to the great folks at the Skoll Centre and the Laidlaw Foundation for giving me this life-changing opportunity.
As one of the 330+ people who are currently being offered a buffet, I am excited for what my collection will look like at the end of the year, in addition to what I will give back to the school aligned with my interest to drive tangible impact.