From access to justice to global business: experiencing a new mindset in Oxford

4 minute read

Why would a lawyer, who spent most of his career working either in the public sector or third sector, apply to the Oxford Executive Diploma in Global Business at the University of Oxford? This is someone who spent half of his career promoting human rights, access to justice and the rule of law in developing countries, with almost no experience in the private sector. The answer to this question may not sound too obvious. But it is.

First: being an adopted child raised in a ‘dot’ right in the middle of the Amazon, by a coloured, blue-collar couple, has exposed me to the plight of the working class and their socio-economic woes. That experience became the foundation for my passion to pursue social justice and economic development. This led me to move, 17 years ago, to a fragile and conflict-affected nation located in Southeast Asia: Timor-Leste.

As you can imagine, the challenges of development are vast and urgent, and the private sector can play an important role in promoting social and economic growth. However, entrepreneurs and businesses in developing countries such as Timor-Leste can often struggle to overcome constraints imposed by a regulatory environment designed using the legal framework from industrial economies. As such, their needs demand smart, transformative and practical solutions. 

In this context, I believe that getting a clear understanding of the issues businesses face locally, regionally, and globally could help me to develop legal and institutional reforms that effectively address government, society and business needs. This goes beyond what a master’s in law programme could offer me, and that is where this Oxford Diploma in Global Business fits in.

The Oxford Executive Diploma in Global Business is a part-time, master’s-level qualification. It provides a practical and deep understanding of global strategy, risk and reputation, corporate diplomacy in a global context, and the challenges businesses face in emerging markets. 

Developing this core set of skills can certainly prepare lawyers (and policymakers) like myself to get a clear perspective of the problems entrepreneurs are facing in our changing, modern world, and how these issues interrelate with sustainability, social development, human rights, governance and, of course, with the rule of law. 

By being exposed to these issues and a diverse variety of perspectives, the diploma supports legal professionals to pragmatically rethink the role of business and consider how they can develop legislative and institutional reforms that are much more efficient, sustainable and reflective of the world today. And that is very relevant to my role.

Second: it’s Oxford! Apart from being considered one of the most prestigious universities in the world (number one actually, in accordance with The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022), Oxford offers a bunch of opportunities for continuing your personal and professional development through its various events and programmes. 

This includes access to research centres, initiatives and networks (such as the Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum, OSEF) – an entrepreneurial event that brings together global, outstanding and inspirational minds to engage in complex and important discussions. There is also access to clubs and societies; library services during and after your journey at the University; career services; and alumni reunions and meetings to name but a few. 

These tools and services are available to help Oxford’s students develop essential skills that will allow them to (re)shape their career paths. As you can see, the opportunities to learn and to grow – professionally, academically, and personally – never stop at Saïd Business School.

Finally, and very importantly, we have Oxford’s world-leading faculty. They are true experts in their fields and extremely open to supporting students. In fact, their academic background and experience educating others speaks for itself. 

The approach taken in classes is always very engaging. The faculty's combination of a problem-solving-focused methodology with a collaborative learning approach helped me to easily understand the content we were studying during the first module, Global Strategy, in a way I was not expecting. And after a few weeks, since we concluded the module, I still find myself returning to the reflections I had during the classes.

Experiencing a new mindset (some lessons learned!)

So, what invaluable lessons did I take away from the first module?

  1. Who do you want to be and what are you going to do to get there?
  2. Be culturally sensitive
  3. By identifying what you do best, you can better evaluate which direction to take!
  4. Great challenges demand a great strategy, innovative thinking, feasible and transformative solutions.

These lessons not only apply for private sector professionals when designing strategies for global business expansion, but also for public sector professionals like me, through my legal work.

Setting goals, being innovative and strategic are principles that can help us, entrepreneurs, legal professionals – or simply as professionals – to be resilient and strive to thrive.

As a lawyer, I believe that the knowledge and tools I’ll gain on this programme will help me to rise to the complex challenges businesses face with more objectivity and creativity. 

On a personal level, I hope that the diploma will support me to be the best version of myself, broaden my perspective and continue to inspire my love of learning. After all, that is why I am here at Oxford!

This transformative journey has just started, and I can’t wait for the next module!