Learning from the best

5 minute read

No matter how much we know in any area, there are always new things to learn. And to facilitate our growth and learning, choosing a place where we can acquire a core set of skills that can enable us to respond promptly and effectively to real-world challenges is fundamental. Here is where Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, is playing a prominent role in my life.

Learning as a mechanism to grow and influence 

Consistently ranked as one of the world’s top business schools, Saïd Business School is driven by innovation and creativity, tackling business, governments, and society’s big issues with practical approaches. Any scenario discussed, any concept or tool I acquire through the Oxford Executive Diploma in Global Business, will be immediately applicable in my daily activities. At Oxford Saïd, I am learning to grow and influence. 

As a lawyer with experience working with governments and multilateral agencies, like the UNDP, IFC and the World Bank, through which I had the opportunity to develop policies focused on encouraging investment and economic growth in the developing nation of Timor-Leste, having a clear understanding of the private sector’s needs – such as specific regulatory and administrative barriers – is crucial to enable me to properly address them. 

In fact, when searching for a master’s-level programme, I was looking for something that was not only cost-effective, and through which I could improve my skills, but would also fit with my career and personal commitments. The simple truth is, I could not stop working to only focus on studying.  In addition, over the past few years my work remit has evolved, and my legal services expertise has become blended with some level of leadership responsibility in multicultural environments. As a result, I felt like it was time to look for something that also could teach me how to effectively manage cultural diversity while mitigating political risks (including – but not limited to – risks or uncertainties associated with Foreign Direct Investments for competitiveness and development). Besides, I wanted something that could help me to comprehend and leverage the mechanisms developed to build organisational reputation and relationships with different stakeholders. 

In my view, all this knowledge is very relevant and necessary not only for those working in leadership positions in the business field, but also for lawyers like myself who collaborate with governments and multilateral agencies. That is where the Executive Diploma in Global Business really fits my needs: the course not only combines fresh ways of thinking to address challenges businesses face locally, regionally and globally, but it is also equipping me with tools that allow me to (re)shape my leadership style. I am even becoming a better communicator in my workplace, communities, and personal life.

Nevertheless, my exposure to subjects related to global strategy, risk and reputation, and corporate diplomacy, is already enabling me to discuss business regulatory reforms in Timor-Leste that are complemented by better implementation, so that firms can more effectively benefit from them. Business registration and licensing systems are examples of reforms that are on the way. Meanwhile, discussions on improving a dialogue on investment climate reform for Timorese women’s economic empowerment, are also starting. This includes assistance to certain women associations, who have been educated and supported to become active voices to advocate in favour of barrier removal on entry, exit and access to credit. They have also been encouraged to campaign for enforcement and non-discretionary interpretation of existing laws and regulations. Eventually, this will certainly help vulnerable Timorese women, in particular, to have better access to economic opportunities. Opportunities that go beyond limited rural grants, for example.

Again, the learning obtained at Saïd Business School is already helping me to contribute and influence the course and future of private sector development in Timor-Leste. This journey has been truly transformative and the gain, on a personal level, is priceless. 

The programme delivery 

The modules take place in week-long sessions and are each spaced apart by 2-3 months over the course of the year. This hiatus between the modules provides me enough time to revise, savour and digest the extensive amount of information shared during those intense learning weeks and to get ready for the assessments. Likewise, it has allowed me time to discuss certain aspects of the content with my classmates. This format has suited me very well because I can properly answer my professional commitments while furthering my education at the same time.  

In fact, in each of the three modules I have already studied, I could see a clear interplay of theories in their practical work. That has been very important to me as I was really looking for a programme that was structured in a way that could allow me to develop advanced expertise and practical skills that go beyond legal matters, but that are, somehow, complementary to subjects related to business development and leadership.

Expanding my network 

The Executive Diploma in Global Business has also provided me with an amazing opportunity to expand my network, starting with my cohort, composed of people with sophisticated international experience from 17 different countries. I feel honoured to be part of such a diverse and dynamic group of professionals. Their knowledge and experience are truly complementary in many aspects, and their insights during class have helped to share a new perspective on the ideas presented.  Furthermore, the stories and experiences they share during classes are very inspirational. I have learnt so much from people from many different industries, such as real estate, aviation, pharmaceutical, fashion, I.T., security, accounting, logistics, just to mention a few.  Their respective perspectives enrich the class discussions, providing different scenarios and so many practical solutions for real cases. I would never be able to think of all these different solutions to the same challenge on my own. This process is particularly rewarding.  

Keep working! 

My journey is still ongoing. The experience has been fantastic, and I could not be happier with my decision. Here, at Oxford Saïd, I am learning from the best: inspiring academics and lecturers and talented, highly driven students. 

And although we may never know exactly what is next, one thing is for sure: by continuing to work consistently on ourselves, sharing our passion for learning and serving others, we will open doors to many new opportunities. The need for improvement absolutely never ends. Oxford is teaching me that every day, and I can’t wait for my next module in October!