Why Oxford?

5 minute read

Have you ever been asked, Why Oxford? No? Well, I know I have been asked several times!

I always used to ponder the question and come up with some genius answer (you know, people always feel we are 'the smarts' for being in Oxford). Good luck with that. Anyway, I think it finally hit me one day, halfway through my second-year, lying on my bed and listening to Earl Nightingale teach about risk-taking and the nexus it has with success, that I finally realized why Oxford!

The answer lies in the little things, and I'll explain...

We recently spent some time in Vietnam studying Business in Emerging Markets. I ordered a pair of slippers that unfortunately weren't delivered until after I left. I later got them in the UK because a Moroccan/Belgian investment banker (Mous) was staying behind after the module for his holidays; he kept calling and going to the hotel to follow through on the delivery. He eventually picked it up and brought it back to London for me. No smarts here... just the little things.

It was my birthday, 27 November, and we were between modules and wouldn't be in school for it; a Lebanese engineer with businesses in Qatar and Saudi (my seat partner Aline) thought well enough of me to buy me a cake with a kind note well in advance of that day. No smarts here… just the little things.

Returning to the UK after the holidays, I received a nice Christmas greeting card from an Oxford classmate. Thank you, Claire. The little things.

We've all had tough days in our lives, yes? One such for me came last year, and it was two of my closest buddies in the cohort (a lovely Bangladeshi-British lady and my Nigerian brother who pulled me out of it with so much love and encouragement). Thank you Nadiya and Obi. The little things.

Midway through the first year, as with most Executive MBAs, I struggled with balancing work, family and school. Being a strong believer in the Christian faith, I was pleasantly surprised that an Australian 'defense' expert would pick up on this and arrange a prayer session with me to seek clarity from the divine. Adam, I stand with you, brother.

A friend from Switzerland had been sending emails to market their IT security service to commercial banks in Nigeria; of course, I had to step in and follow through to get him the appointment. There was a happiness I couldn't explain seeing I could serve his cause... the little things.

I’ve always been known to be very serious-minded and straight-faced, this changed for me when a Canadian lady called Chantale joined the cohort and made it her purpose to always make me laugh. More importantly, she gave me something very special: she learnt the meaning and pronunciation of my name. Imagine the feeling when we came in for the follow-up module and she looked me in the eye and pronounced it correctly! Ndubuisi, she said... in her honor, I asked the school to change my nameplate from 'ND' to 'Ndubuisi'. The little things.

An exercise on the importance of teamwork during one of our modules required rowing as a team. The only problem is that I can't swim, so you can imagine my frustration and pushback. But two guys, Belgian and Australian, promised to jump in and get me in the improbable event of capsizing. Oh, not to forget the amiable German lady who kept taking pictures of us and teasing me during the experience (hi Katarina). In all, I learned to be more trusting of people. Again, there are no smarts here but blind faith and trust. The little things.

I spent a day in Qatar and without notice contacted an Oxford classmate of mine, he canceled all his meetings for the day and came to get me, drove me around the city, sharing the history and logic of the place with me until late evening when he dropped me off at the airport with a gift... the little things. Thank you, Waqar.

I took a trip to Brisbane, Australia, and was hosted for dinner by an Oxford classmate and his wife. They gave me a well-curated gift box consisting of random things related to Australia in addition to a walk through the city... honest life discussions were had, and the feeling of camaraderie was rife. The little things. All the best to your lovely wife, Praveen.

One of our school projects required group work in analyzing the Global Rules of the Game; an American invited me to a group with a Peruvian and a Croatian. Our case study was on Nigeria, and I could feel these guys' genuine sincerity and open-mindedness in wanting to learn about my country. To date, that remains one of my most treasured experiences. I guess what resonated with me was less of the academic rigor and more of the sincerity of purpose and teamwork of these exceptional people. The little things. (Claire, Renzo and Jurica - you guys are the best).

Having spent most of my working life as a banking professional, you would agree with me that venturing into entrepreneurship was quite scary. Two amazing Oxford buddies (Pakistani and American) have jumped in feet first to help me make sense of this maze called a founder’s journey and I am super grateful for all their support. Haris and Bobby, hats off to you both.

I would be remiss not to talk of my dearest Nigerian sister, who I go to for the most random things, and she always assists me in figuring it out regardless of the time of day. Mobola, you are the best.

In closing, a random day looks like lunch with an American and dinner with a broader group consisting of friends from Nigeria, Lebanon, Turkey, Australia, the UK, Switzerland, South Korea, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Peru and Croatia, to name a few. Talk about diversity! The little things.

This is what I believe makes the experience remarkable. The diversity and reach of the cohort across continents and the ability to touch lives even in the simplest of ways.

Why Oxford you said?

Oxford Executive MBA