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. Read part one of Nagadarsan’s story.
In one word, how would your best friend describe you and how would your manager describe you?
- Best friend: Organised
- Manager: Eclectic
What have you done to prepare yourself for the MBA?
After securing my admission, my Africa assignment ended and I moved back to my hometown, Kochi, bang in the middle of the pandemic. I didn’t want to return to the India office of my company in the north of the country, as it wasn’t particularly safe at that time and another relocation seemed unwise.
Therefore, I decided to do a remote consulting assignment during the 9-10 months I had with me before moving to Oxford. It seemed like a great opportunity to learn more about the areas in which I wanted to work after the MBA. So, I joined a startup working on cloud-based technology for clean mobility solutions, such as EV charging stations. This was a brilliant experience as my learning curve in this space turned out to be quite steep.
In addition, I also did a programme run by Oxford students called ‘School of Climate Change.’ On this programme, Oxford researchers conducted seminars on the science behind climate change and introduced us to the latest ongoing work in that field. I wholeheartedly recommend this to anyone looking to learn more about this particularly nasty problem.
I’ve relaunched my blog, where I share my thoughts on some of my areas of interest – sustainable infrastructure, urban design and transportation.
Prioritising what I wanted to do at Oxford was another useful task I completed during this time. I think this is critically important to avoid being swept away by the hundreds of possibilities available at the School and the University.
What do you hope to gain from completing your MBA?
Primarily, I’m hoping to meet and learn from as many people as possible working on problems that I’m interested in solving. This will hopefully not be restricted to just the School, as there are some wonderful departments, student groups and clubs in Oxford doing excellent work in fields that interest me. There is a very active startup ecosystem, with extremely clever people working on challenging problems.
I think this ‘acquisition’ of knowledge and networks is what I hope to gain and it will be incredibly helpful in my career ahead.
I’ve been struck by how supportive most alumni are – this includes not just MBAs from the past, but also a wider group of alumni who have done other programmes at the School and in the University. Access to such a diverse network is something not many MBA schools can offer.
What is the best advice you received before commencing your MBA?
I’ve received two pieces of advice that I consider super important.
One, prioritise and do not have FOMO. A lifetime is probably not enough to do everything that can be done at Oxford. Therefore, one has to prioritise and choose activities that make sense for one’s chosen path.
Two, do not hesitate to start networking. There’s no auspicious time to begin meeting people who are working in areas that you want to work in; so start talking to them already – there’s more than enough to learn and each conversation might open a new door in your mind and in your journey.
Do you have any advice about the Oxford MBA application process for candidates thinking of applying?
The most important part of the application process is your story, and how your past and present experiences link to a desired future outcome through the Oxford MBA. Work hard to develop this story through a lot of self-reflection and research into what Oxford can offer you; I think this is far more important than your GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) score, GPA (Grade Point Average) etc. I liked the fact that the Oxford application process gives you several opportunities to share your story in detail (with appropriate word limits that encourage brevity).
Reflect on your future career goals to as granular a level as possible – shortlist organisations and even roles. If there’s underlying clarity in your entire story – past, present and future – that’s the best possible preparation you can make before applying. Needless to say, this preparation is likely to help you beyond the application process and right through the MBA year. So, reflect, research, reflect, research and keep at it till you’re happy!
Also, have someone who knows you very well (a partner or a confidant) go through your story and the written application with a fine-tooth comb. They will definitely have valuable suggestions which will enhance the quality of the application.
What part of the programme are you most looking forward to?
The GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford) course is probably first and foremost in my mind. Focusing on a world-scale problem and tackling it from various angles is a really attractive part of the MBA programme and promises to be incredibly enriching. I hope the theme for our year will be super challenging and linked to some of my areas of interest.
I’m rather curious about a newly introduced core course called ‘Capitalism in Debate’. The very existence of this course is a great indicator of how the Oxford MBA is not your typical, top MBA programme.
Besides classroom sessions, I’m eagerly looking forward to meeting researchers, professors and other students in my cohort and in my college.
What do you think will be the most challenging part of the programme?
Almost certainly prioritisation. I will be moving to Oxford with my spouse, and I really want to treat the 12 months in a manner similar to how I would treat a work assignment. This necessarily involves a lot of planning and clever demarcation of time for classes, co-curriculars, networking and family.
I also want to make the most of Oxford beyond the University. My spouse and I share a lot of common interests around history, architecture and nature – so I’m looking forward to the challenge of finding enough time to enjoy all that Oxfordshire has to offer, while balancing academic pursuits and networking.
How do you plan to take the learnings from the MBA to influence positive change?
Over the next decade, I want to spend a significant amount of my work life influencing societies to move towards a more sustainable way of life. I consider rapid decarbonisation of our cities and communities to be of the utmost importance in the years ahead, if we are to have any chance of reaching a net zero carbon future.
The foundational knowledge and networks that I hope to build at Oxford will definitely help me in this journey. I’ve already met so many in my cohort and alumni who share similar goals, and I cannot wait to be a part of this community that seeks to create a more sustainable way of life.
Are there any sports teams, societies or clubs you’re hoping to become a member of?
I’m looking forward to being a part of the Climate OBN (Oxford Business Network), which is the student network at the School for those interested in climate, clean energy and related industries. Amongst co-curriculars, I’m hoping to be a part of the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL), especially after the introduction of the Climate stream in the Oxford CDL.
In the wider University, I’m absolutely keen to try out the Oxford Union – whether that’s as an observer or as a participant. It would be an injustice to my days of poring over the Lord of the Rings if I didn’t apply to be a member of the University’s Tolkien Society. At Merton, there’s a History of the Book Group, which sounds terribly intellectual but has definitely piqued my curiosity!