Early in my career, a mentor told me to think of my career as an accumulation of skills and experiences which culminate in my ambition to become an exceptional general manager. My experience at the time of my diploma application had been largely operational and project delivery in nature. I felt that, in order to take the next step in my career, I should increase my repertoire of finance capabilities with additional study alongside my day-to-day job.
At the time of my diploma application, I was working at Mastercard in the UK Strategy and Market Development team. Shortly after commencing the diploma, I obtained a role in the European Corporate Strategy team at Visa where I utilised the strategy and finance frameworks from the course in my daily activities. I then moved to a Director role in the Australian Visa Consulting and Analytics function where I am responsible for managing teams who deliver client projects.
My pathway to the programme
I was at a point in my career where I wanted to accelerate my progression beyond what was available in my role at the time. My experience has taught me that the best general managers have a balance of skills between strategy and finance. Given that my experience to date had been very strategy and operations focused, I decided to increase my finance capabilities to enable this acceleration.
I started by looking at studying a Master’s in Finance, but I decided that I didn’t want to delve so deep into the technical side of finance. I also considered studying an MBA, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to make such a time and financial commitment. I refined my criteria to find something in between the Masters of Finance and an MBA which is what lead me to the Diploma in Financial Strategy.
The Diploma in Financial Strategy initially stood out to me as a great opportunity to advance my knowledge of finance topics to an appropriate level. I also liked that it could be the beginning of a longer journey towards an Executive MBA (which I am now pursuing). The part-time format appealed to me as it would allow me to maintain my career progression within my company at the same time as studying. Above all else, it was the Oxford brand which made me feel confident that the course would be worth my time.
The unique balance of strategy and finance topics are what set this programme apart from others like it. The programme encourages you to think more broadly and advance your strategic thinking, whilst also equipping you with the tools to do the calculations and produce the evidence that supports your strategy. This special blend of finance and strategy is what business is all about and I highly recommend studying this diploma if you want to accelerate your capabilities in these areas.
A passport to my next stage
Studying the diploma meant that my application for the Corporate Strategy team at Visa was considered more highly. I believe this is largely due to the pedigree and calibre of the programme as an Oxford qualification. I was able to immediately apply the learnings from the diploma to my corporate strategy role, by utilising the strategy frameworks and financial modelling skills taught.
The programme allowed a rigorous environment to try new ways to approach business problems supported by structured learning, time with peers and interactions with highly skilled lecturers. This format means that students are able to test and learn new approaches in a safe environment and come away feeling confident in their understanding of the topics and their own ability in complex thinking. I think this in part helped me to progress within Visa and achieve my promotion to director within 18 months of joining the company. I’m now responsible for managing the teams that deliver projects for our banking clients and the diploma has helped me to apply an advanced level of thinking and rigour to my work.
I continue to use the skills and tools that I learned through the Diploma in Financial Strategy in my daily activities. In addition to these skills and tools, my confidence in my abilities has significantly increased and the way I work has changed considerably.