Meet the Oxford MBA class of 2021-22: Kaitlyn Neises-Mocanu

5 minute read

We are excited to welcome the Oxford MBA Class of 2021-22 to Oxford this September. Get to know our incoming students in this blog post series as they prepare to join Saïd Business School.

Tell us about yourself:

  • Sector/Industry you worked in pre-MBA: Government, public health/healthcare
  • Sector/Industry you are hoping to work in post-MBA: Government or non-profit, health or more general social impact
  • Country of residence before coming to Oxford: USA
  • College: Green Templeton College. I read that it was a great place to run into other MBA students, and they have accommodation for families.

In one word, how would your best friend describe you and how would your manager describe you?

  • Best friend: Tenacious
  • Manager: Dependable

Tell us about where you have come from and what has led you to Oxford and, more specifically, the Oxford MBA.

I’m from a really small town in the American Midwest (shout out to Menominee, IL!) I grew up in an old farmhouse in the country with my parents and four sisters and was always enamoured with the world beyond our cosy farming community. 

Despite not having opportunities to do so themselves, our parents always encouraged us to get educated and see the world, so we did! While bouncing around with my husband from California to Texas and back to Iowa, I managed to get through a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. 

In 2010, I followed my husband’s career to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, a cluster of small islands which make up a US territory. We planned to spend two years on the islands, not anticipating the decade-long epic that would play out. I got a part-time position to work on health promotion at the local health department. Within two years I had been promoted to special assistant to the CEO of the Corporation, a position I have been truly fortunate to hold since. 

I recently completed a Master’s in Public Health but realised I needed business skills to make a greater impact in health and healthcare. The opportunities to learn about social impact on a global scale at Oxford led me to this programme.

What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?

For the past few years, I’ve tried to incorporate more and more business thinking and strategies into my public sector job. Conducting break-even analyses, teaching myself about cost allocation, writing business plans for services expansions, and researching policy impacts on healthcare markets have been some of the ways I’ve tried to do this. I came to the point where I wasn’t sure I was doing the subjects justice by teaching myself these things and am ready for formal learning.

What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?

I hope to gain confidence in my business skills, friendships, and exposure to new opportunities for social impact.

What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?

Listen first, speak last.

Do you have any advice about the Oxford MBA application process for candidates thinking of applying?

Give yourself plenty of time to think about why you want to pursue the MBA at Oxford, and don’t hesitate to put it all out there. Even if you don’t feel like you ‘fit the mould’ of an MBA student (I certainly don’t!), be candid about what is motivating you to apply and why you’ve decided an MBA is the right next step for you. The Oxford MBA programme values genuine people who have thought deeply about what drives them.

What part of the programme are you most looking forward to?

I’m actually really excited about just the core curriculum. It will be such a relief to finally get formal training in business and feel more confident in my knowledge and decision-making. Other than that, GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford), the Impact Lab, and Map the System make me feel certain that I chose the right programme. Before my husband started researching MBA programmes on my behalf (I didn’t think I was cut out for it), I didn’t know such an impact-centric programme could exist in the MBA world.

What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?

I sometimes find motivating myself to be difficult when I’m faced with a hypothetical challenge rather than something happening in the real world and within my orbit. 

I’m hoping to be able to tie in problems that I’m already familiar with, but I know I’ll need to branch out from my comfort zone. I work very well when I get to solve real problems and can bring the solution to life, but I’m sure there will be plenty of theoretical or hypothetical problems posed in the coursework, and I’ll need to power through an armchair approach. Also, double-entry bookkeeping is terrifying to me. I’m hoping the programme will help me alleviate this fear.

How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?

I would feel comfortable continuing work in the healthcare space, but am open to other sectors. I kind of fell into healthcare accidentally, and haven’t had much exposure to other people working for positive change through business. I’m excited to learn what other students are working on and learning from them.

Are there any sports teams, societies or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?

I hope to be a part of the Social Impact Lab and I’m very interested in participating in the Map the System competition. Systems mapping is time-consuming but extremely helpful with problem-solving, so I’m looking forward to expanding my ability to apprentice problems.