Reflections from a whirlwind first few months: a note of gratitude

3 minute read

I had heard from previous students that the MBA would fly by quickly and, a few months into the programme, I can see exactly why!

Since starting in late September, it’s been hard to find moments to pause and reflect, so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to write this blog post.

In fact, I’m grateful more broadly to be studying at this point in time. Of course, university life is in several ways more restricted than pre-pandemic. Compared, however, to the hardships many continue to endure as the pandemic and economic crisis roll on, being able to study, to meet classmates and to still get so much value out of the programme is a privilege.

Before starting the MBA, I had three main priorities for the year. First, I wanted to build my skills and knowledge across a broad range of business sectors. Secondly, I wanted to focus my extra-curricular activities around social impact. Thirdly, I wanted to enjoy the fullness of life in Oxford. So far, it’s been a rich experience in pursuit of each of these goals.

To demonstrate, in our Organisational Behaviour class we’ve examined how cognitive biases can influence organisational decision-making and the interpretation of data. In Accounting, we’ve looked at different risk frameworks, and how performance measurement can be both necessary and a trap. In Marketing, we’ve discussed the power of advertising to reflect, perpetuate or counter stereotypes, and considered real, live brand strategies. 

As part of our ‘Global Rules of the Game’ module, we’ve debated the pros and cons of FDI (foreign direct investment) liberalisation in emerging economies. And for our integrated assessment, we worked in groups to workshop and develop ideas for the aviation sector’s recovery from Covid-19.

In terms of extra-curriculars, weekly Impact Finance workshops have given me a deeper understanding of the impact investment life cycle. A virtual career trek, together with students from London Business School, provided fantastic insights into the workings of Asian-based impact funds. And as part of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship’s Impact Lab, we’ve explored questions such as ‘cathedral thinking’, systems change, empathic listening, and the difference between equality and equity.

As for life in Oxford, I’ve been grateful to go running and walking with classmates through beautiful Port Meadow. I’ve been grateful for celebrating – albeit with some restrictions – the centuries’ old Oxford tradition of matriculation. And also for listening to magnificent Evensong services at Christ Church Cathedral. And for studying in the University’s beautiful libraries. And, for participating in student-led Zoom sessions covering mindfulness, meditation, yoga and HIIT.

Looking ahead, it will soon be Christmas – time for further pause and reflection – before we start a busy term in Hilary. One aspect of Hilary I’m particularly excited about is our ‘Global Opportunities and Threats’ project. We’ll work in groups on the topic of systems reset, focusing on how we can move from crisis to transformation in terms of our health, social, economic and climate systems. I can’t wait to see the ideas classmates come up with!