Take the long game approach

7 minute read

Tell us a little about your career background?

From a young age, I have been training in the performing arts. After a Bachelor’s degree in Music Performance at McGill University in Montreal, I was working towards building a career as a professional concert pianist. I was performing with orchestras, recording my first album, and pursuing residencies in Aspen and Banff, when I decided to pursue a Master’s Degree at the Cleveland Institute of Music in the United States. 

After my Master’s, I moved to New York City to pursue my second passion: acting. While taking acting classes in New York City, I started teaching piano at various conservatories around NYC. Out of that, steadily grew a private music studio and I developed a love of pedagogy. I ended up winning a job at a top community music conservatory in New York, and started taking teaching quite seriously. I connected with Steinway & Sons in 2019 and became part of their teaching partner program, which supports teaching artists across New York. The more my studio grew, the more excited I was to partner with Steinway and with my excellent representative there. 

Despite my artistic efforts and endeavours, I have also always had an interest in and curiosity towards business. I had pursued several business opportunities throughout my New York, and earlier, years in luxury sales and business development. I worked for Theory, a high-end women’s wear brand based in NYC, Manhattan Casuals; a luxury wear boutique in Canada, and Circle Sportswear in Paris. 

Across these companies, I held roles in sales, styling, management, and ultimately business development and International consulting. My last role was working with Parisian based Circle Sportswear to expand their offerings to the American market. It was thrilling. I got to blend my interest in business, with my multi-cultural background, affinity for relationship building and client management, and my interest in luxury. 

By the time I got to Oxford, I had worn multiple hats. I’d been a concert pianist, a small business owner, a sales and business consultant in the world of luxury, and was hoping post MBA to find some integration of these differing roles and industries.  

Why was an Oxford MBA important to help you understand a global view of business where markets, trade and work are transforming at a rapid rate?

That’s a great question. I think, in retrospect, had I done an MBA in the US where I had been living, my view may have been more narrow coming out of it. The Oxford MBA – both the cohort and the content – enabled me to really experience the ecosystem of business on a very global scale. Nothing about the experience, from the customs we celebrated as a cohort, to the backgrounds of the professors we learnt from, was narrow or provincial. Therefore, the infusion of a deeply global perspective into everything we did was inevitable.  

To the question, more specifically: The perspectives and ways of viewing markets, trade, and work, that were gleaned at Oxford were distinctive in their multi-cultural and broad approach. 

The variety of the diversity of our cohort meant that the experiences and insights shared in class, and beyond, were extremely diverse. It was very helpful, extremely interesting, and humbling I’d say. Especially if you have come from a particular geocentric approach or have spent most of your experience in the West – North America and Europe – as I had. It really made me realize the vastness of our business community, and at the same time, its closeness. We are both extremely distinctive, culturally and otherwise, and also very connected globally and thus deeply and invariably linked. The shrinkage of the globe, as a result of the closeness of these conversations and friendships formed, I would say was a very positive effect of having pursued such a global MBA. 

Undoubtedly, the Oxford MBA was one that really fostered and promoted international dialogue in a respectful and productive way.

Turning to your personal career journey, did you know where you wanted to head in your career before your MBA?

Not necessarily. I had been working as a consultant in Paris for a luxury fashion brand right before the MBA, so I thought I would perhaps go down the consulting route. I liked working on complex problems, collaborating with smart teams, and thought my background could be interesting for a consulting firm looking to amplify their diversity of perspectives. I pursued this route for the first five months of the MBA, procuring interviews with BCG, McKinsey, and Deloitte. I got pretty far into the process, and also started to think and feel as though perhaps there were other routes I could look into that may be more aligned with both my background and my passions.  

This led me to start to think about roles that incorporated the arts, luxury, fashion and consulting. I was also taking some courses at the time, notably, International business strategy and a class about environmental sustainability in business, that really had me inspired. This experienced provoked me to start refining my career ambitions and career path.

 I started to consider roles in International business development, and interviewed through March and April with a firm in the luxury sector for a major role in European business development and strategy. Again, this process was enlightening. In truth, I needed about ten more years of experience to be properly qualified for this role but the act of interviewing and getting to the seventh and final round of interviews taught me a lot. It also taught me to continue being humble through the process, to never assume anything is finished until it’s literally complete, and to try and learn something along each step of the way.  

Ultimately, my career direction throughout my MBA was shaped by an initial interest (consulting), subsequent interview processes, and then was later refined as my curiosities were shaped through courses on the MBA, personal interactions, conversations, and true internal excavation and meditation on what I’d truly like to be doing post-MBA. 

How did the resources and opportunities of an Oxford Saïd education and career development assist you?

The Oxford Saïd education assisted me in myriad ways. I think, fundamentally, and perhaps most importantly, the Saïd education gave me the confidence to pursue the opportunities that I dreamt of having pre-MBA but didn’t feel equipped enough to pursue or apply for. The combination of the actual hard skills that were acquired, in conjunction with the social, cultural, and psychological lessons that were gleaned were quite formative.   

I had the privilege on the MBA of partaking both in the student council leadership as well as acting as a director on the Luxury & Marketing team. Those affiliations and the nature of their commitment was fortifying, interesting, and enlightening. 

I also had the opportunity of being in classes with some incredible people. Their perspectives, openness to others, and genuine intelligence enabled me to feel part of something dynamic and vibrant. The feeling after a program or opportunity such as Saïd’s MBA is that you want to continue to share, and be part of, and belong to something purposeful and meaningful. That is an incredible gift the MBA at Oxford imparted on me and one which I hope to carry forward into my work with Steinway & Sons, and beyond.

Now you have taken your next career step, what recommendation would you give to incoming students embarking on their MBA programme?

Take the long game approach. I didn’t have a job coming out of the MBA, so I built a business. When I felt like the business was not going to fulfil my intellectual or other needs, I sat down and got to work on identifying which companies and which roles would be interesting and would satisfy my curiosity. 

I reached out to the careers team, coupled up with a former classmate and met weekly to discuss opportunities, and started applying. I knew that while in the short term, things felt uncertain and uncomfortable, the long view held many opportunities for a someone with ambition, persistence and an Oxford MBA. And sure enough that was true. It didn’t happen overnight, and it took hard work and commitment, but it did indeed come to fruition.  

In addition to ‘taking the long game approach’, I’d advise others to stay hopeful and committed to the journey: 'Take heed: you do not find what you do not seek,' as the English proverb goes.

Oxford MBA