Two weeks into Michaelmas Term Block 1, and after missing out on the full MBA Launch program, I finally arrived in Oxford after a seemingly never-ending wait.
At this point I was one of the last few international students trickling into the United Kingdom after experiencing visa delays and having the UK Visas and Immigration, TLScontact visa application centre and the University of Oxford’s immigration services team on hotmail and speed dial trying to get answers during a frustratingly long wait. Standard student visas take 15 working days or less, but mine took 12 weeks during an eventful period for the United Kingdom, as they balanced providing visas for Ukrainians affected by the Russian invasion of certain parts of Ukraine and a global post-pandemic surge in demand for visitors, settlement and student visas causing a shock to the visa processing system.
However, I did arrive just in time for matriculation, the pinnacle and compulsory onboarding event for Oxford University students. The purpose is to formally register students onto the student roll in sub fusc ('academic dress'), through a formal procession from the college to the Sheldonian Theatre where the formal recognition event has taken place for the past 800 years. I also met most of my Linacre college mates at the matriculation, and they were a very warm and welcoming group. Post-matriculation, I had to join the moving academic train at Oxford. In the first block we were covering three core modules; Accounting, Organizational Behavior and Technology and Operations Model, a four-week block consists of eight sessions for each module (two sessions per week). Sessions cover the core concepts and the application of the concepts to a case study, making for interactive and practical implementation. Mondays to Thursdays are generally focused on the teaching with Thursday afternoons and Fridays being career sessions, with employer presentations and career development activities.
Our class of 313 students was divided into four sections A-D and have study groups of 5-6 people. The first block work was already underway for an integrated (integrating all three block modules) group formative assessment, based on a real-world case study and live issues from two organisations, the UK Infrastructure Bank (UKIB) and the Big Issue Group (Big Issue). My group and others selected the UKIB case investigating an issue that the UKIB had been requested to investigate by the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his strategic steer to the Bank. The UKIB has recently published a discussion paper on the role the bank can play on natural capital, which was the main topic for our assessment. The other groups worked on Big Issue, a UK Based social enterprise which is focused on helping homeless people to transition into meaningful lives and are expanding their Big Issue recruit platform. We had a chance to engage the executives of both companies at the Nelson Mandela Lecture Theatre, to get firsthand insights on the issues at hand and sharpen our problem statements and align our final recommendations to the customer needs. The exercise was a challenging ice breaker for a newly formed team, working on an ambiguous challenge limited in scope to the three core modules that were the focus of the block.
Between reading for the MBA, and forming relationships with a global peer network, I actively participate in two co-curricular activities; a continuous (and demanding) Finance masterclass under the tutelage of John Gilligan, and an opportunity to further contribute to the Africa Business Alliance as the Head of Development under Co-Chairs Tammy Brophy and Tolulope Taiwo-Ashaju. The Finance Lab is a practitioner-focused program on finance that has helped me revisit my financial modelling, as well as finance, investment banking and private equity fundamentals. The Finance Lab consists of a series of case-based investment masterclasses facilitated by John Gilligan supplemented by visits from Investment Banking, Private Equity, Venture Capital, Asset Management, and Investment Consulting practitioners who not only share the type of work that they do, but also demonstrate some of the work that they do through case studies. This co-curricular gives MBA and Masters in Financial Economics students signed up to it a 360 view of the finance landscape and empowers them (myself included) to make informed decisions about their next step on careers in finance and their relationship with the financial industry as business leaders and financial stewards.
The Africa Business Alliance on the other hand is a partnership between students, alumni, faculty, and staff, focused on driving the Business School’s Africa Initiative. The Alliance was created to stimulate action on the Africa Initiative and bring African thought-leaders together to talk on the opportunities on the continent and connect members with other African-related networks and groups. My role as Head of Development is focused on Alumni engagement and development activities for scholarships, efforts to grow and sustain the Alliance through networks and partnerships by working closely with the committee, alliance members, Oxford Business Networks and partners of the business school. There will be opportunities for all to engage with the Alliance and its various activities throughout the year. Follow us on Instagram @oxfordaba and LinkedIn for updates on what’s to come.