Seven top tips for Executive MBA students

4 minute read
Exterior of the School

On 13 March 2024, I was delighted to take part in the Executive MBA Panel Discussion with alumni from across Asia.

This session gave prospective students the chance to put their questions to us live. I was joined on the panel by Dr Victor Tay (2021 alumnus) and current students Rishad Manekia and Cynthia Zhong. In this blog, I’ll be sharing the seven top tips from our panel. This will be of interest if you’re considering applying or you’ve already secured a place on the Executive MBA programme.

So, let’s get started:

  1. Manage your time well and plan your schedule. The modules are very intensive academically. You’ll wonder how you can fit in long study days alongside all the social activities, networking, travelling to Oxford and, a full-time job. It’s all doable but you just need to stay very focused and organise your time carefully. 

    Make use of any redundant time. So, if you’re waiting around at the airport before flying to the UK, use that time for pre-course reading or prep. Also, keep your employer updated on your study commitments. Remind them how your organisation will benefit from you taking this Executive MBA so they understand the broader value.
Students in class

2. Don’t underestimate the study time needed. Remember that you need to factor in prep, pre-course reading and assignments alongside your study modules in Oxford. You’ll want to give the classes your full attention. But the sessions are recorded so, if you miss any time because you have to take a call from your boss or attend a meeting, you can catch up later. The good news is that you’ll have lots of support from your fellow students and the teaching faculty.

3. Make the most of opportunities to socialise – you’ll have a packed study programme during your ‘Oxford’ weeks. But don’t skip the social events, such as dinners and sports clubs. Studying at Oxford is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Socialising and networking are important parts of that experience. Take time to get to know your classmates. You’ll meet students from across the world – currently in just one cohort we have 37 nationalities, and more than 30 work sectors represented. It’s incredibly diverse and you’ll learn so much from students who come from completely different backgrounds and cultures. 

Many students go on to set up business ventures or partnerships together. The programme certainly opens up lots of opportunities. Study hard but also take advantage of all the opportunities to socialise with your classmates and network with senior leaders from industry. You’ll make friendships and connections that will last a lifetime.

4. Attend the formal dinners – this is a very special part of the Oxford experience. The dinners take place at different colleges throughout the programme – giving you the chance to mix with fellow students and the teaching team socially. You’ll hear inspirational talks from fellow students and some of the faculty.

5. Apply early for college accommodation. You can choose to stay in a college, private accommodation or a hotel during your ‘Oxford’ weeks. Accommodation costs vary considerably so you’ll need to decide on a budget and do your research. Staying in an Oxford college is such a unique experience. But apply early as places are limited. 

The colleges are all very different, from traditional to modern and from large to small. Some of the older colleges have specific traditions – such as requiring students to wear a sub fusc (ceremonial gown) in the dining halls. Modern colleges generally have a more relaxed approach. So, this is something to consider when applying. It's always best to visit Oxford to look at what the individual colleges offer before you apply. If this isn’t possible, check out the colleges online.

6. Take advantage of international study opportunities. All students take one core international module in either Asia or South America and have the option to take international electives, typically in South Africa and the US. You can choose where to study.

There are other opportunities to study abroad and it’s worth applying early for these. The GNAM (Global Network of Advanced Management Studies) programme allows you to study, for a short period, at other world-leading institutions, such as Yale, Berkeley or Fudan University in China.

Careers advice

7. Take advantage of careers advice on offer. You’ll find that many EMBA students are midway through a career pivot or transition of some kind. During the programme, you’ll have regular access to a career coach, as well as careers briefings. Many prestigious employers, including leading global consulting firms, also visit the School to give presentations and recruit students. So, take advantage of the advice on offer.

Find these tips useful? You can watch the whole Q&A session online and hear about the experiences of current students and graduates first-hand.

Watch the Q&A session.

***With thanks to my fellow panel members, Dr Victor Tay, Rishad Manekia and Cynthia Zhong, for sharing their perspectives during the Q&A panel session.***