I have spent a lot of weeks reflecting on how I got here. The MBA forces you to do this. Being in a room with so many diverse people forces you to reflect on your ‘whys’…
- Why an MBA?
- Why Oxford?
- What do I hope to achieve?
- What path do I take from here?
And it is this reflection that helps you tell your story – however compelling, however not. So, here’s mine.
My path to the MBA wasn’t very traditional. I have always been a high achiever but not without setbacks. The first time I applied for graduate programmes, I was rejected by all the schools I applied to. In hindsight, this was a good thing as I focused on CFA (chartered financial analyst) and a career in sales and trading.
Fast forward 12 years and four kids later, I began to feel that perhaps it was time to apply again. I increasingly felt the urge to transition into an impact-focused career, so Oxford seemed like the perfect fit, and I decided to give graduate school another shot. Amid all of this, I found out I was pregnant which meant that if I got in, I would be starting at Oxford with a newborn. This was a daunting thought and I honestly contemplated deferring my plans for another year, but I decided to forge ahead.
Studying for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) while working in a demanding markets job and dealing with morning sickness was certainly challenging but perseverance pays because I got in! My dream was finally coming true, and I was going to the University of Oxford.
This fall, my kids (all five of them) and I packed up and moved to Oxford. The last two weeks have been interesting. I have met new people from different parts of the world. My study team members seem like the perfect fit for me. In interacting with my peers, I am always reminded of the power of authenticity and staying true to yourself.
The diversity is amazing, but no one tells you that it does get overwhelming at times. Since there is a human tendency to cling to the familiar, meeting so many different people and connecting can be exhausting but it gets better, and I am certainly looking forward to forming lifelong relationships this year.
What will I find challenging this year? Definitely, maintaining some sort of mum-life balance as I’m here with my kids. As much as this is shaping up to be an intense year, I want to be intentional about family time. This may mean bringing my three-month-old to class once or twice…or exploring the beautiful city of Oxford with my older kids.
I am really looking forward to this year at Saïd Business School as I take the time to reflect on my life’s journey so far and focus on what’s important. The goal for me is growth... not a title, not a position, not even a distinction (although this would be awesome). At the end of this year, I’m really hoping to have grown as an individual and as a professional, ready to take on the next phase of my life.