In October 2022, I had the privilege of joining the one-week Women Transforming Leadership Programme at the prestigious Saïd Business School. The primary objective of this programme resonated with me from the very beginning: to equip women leaders with a robust toolset and a supportive network, enabling them to harness their full potential and rise above the challenges they face in their careers.
Having spent more than a decade in the same organisation, I yearned for an experience that would offer fresh perspectives on the unique challenges of being a woman leader. This was especially crucial as I navigated a foreign country, working in my third language, immersed in an entirely different culture.
The choice to enrol in this programme at Oxford was deeply rooted in the institution's distinguished reputation and my strong belief in its ability to deliver a transformative experience. It was about transcending the conventional boundaries of leadership and embracing a holistic understanding of empowerment.
My time in Oxford
From the moment I stepped into the programme, I was struck by its well-rounded nature. Despite its short duration, the programme was packed with enriching content. The caliber of the lecturers was exceptional - they seamlessly intertwined theoretical knowledge with practical use cases, thus breathing life into the subject matter. These real-life scenarios not only added depth to the theoretical aspects but also shed light on the multifaceted challenges faced by women leaders in today's rapidly evolving world.
The programme exceeded my expectations by providing a safe and encouraging space where women could openly share their experiences, fears and aspirations. It was a sanctuary where we could candidly discuss the hurdles we faced and learn from one another's journeys. The camaraderie that developed amongst a group of women who shared similar trials and triumphs in their careers was heartwarming. This bond was set from the beginning. It was initiated through a surprising and inspiring activity: after some practice, the group of over 30 women came together to sing in a fully harmonized cannon – it was surreal, fun and truly inspiring. Precisely what I’ve been looking for!
Another standout exercise was a negotiation role play. This practical application allowed us to refine our negotiation skills within a supportive environment. It was a simple yet powerful example of the hands-on approach the programme adopted to enhance our skill sets.
Impact on my leadership
Post-programme, I found myself equipped with a newfound sense of self-assurance and a refined understanding of leadership dynamics. The programme opened doors to a vibrant community of alumni and like-minded professionals, providing a platform to share experiences and continue learning.
The impact of this programme transcended my personal growth and infiltrated my professional life. Equipped with enhanced skills and valuable lessons from Oxford Saïd, I took a leap in my career and personal projects. In the past year, I was promoted to director in a critical project within my organisation. Encouraged by the programme, I gathered the courage to pursue my interests and contribute to society, subsequently joining the local political sphere and an association of like-minded working moms. Recently I was honoured with the responsibility to represent our interests in the state’s politics.
In retrospect, if I were to describe my experience in a single word, it would undeniably be ‘empowering.’ Saïd Business School has provided me with the tools and support to amplify my leadership impact and continue thriving in a dynamic professional landscape. To anyone considering one of their programmes, I would wholeheartedly recommend this transformative journey - it's an investment in yourself and your future as a leader.