Suddenly the world feels much smaller

4 minute read
Students in a lecture

When I first received the invitation to write about my experience in Oxford, as a Director’s Award Scholar, I was very surprised and overwhelmed. There were so many things I could write about and mentioning only a few of them would do injustice to the others.

The opportunity to pursue my postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford was an absolutely remarkable milestone in both my academic and professional journey. So far, I can definitely confirm that the whole experience has been enriching and life-changing.

After receiving the scholarship letter, I felt thrilled and grateful. I was being given the opportunity to study at one of the most prestigious universities in the world, on a programme that would expand and develop my perspective, experience and knowledge so much, while also enabling me to continue to fulfil my other career, business and family obligations. Making the decision was easy and, as the months passed by, I was looking forward to embarking on this new, intensive and exciting experience.

Upon arrival in Oxford, it was hard not to notice the magical atmosphere of a historical city immersed in culture. Everything was so carefully and thoughtfully placed, just like the knowledge I knew I was going to acquire.

The first module was absolutely the best way to start the programme and I wish it could have lasted even longer! To me, as a professional with a finance background, discussing strategy and its takeaways was challenging but also very interesting. Initially, this was one of the many reasons why I chose to study the Oxford Executive Diploma in Financial Strategy as a blended experience of finance, quants and business acumen, tailored for investment, business and management consulting professionals. 

During my career, I had worked as a consultant, auditor and banking regulator, but I felt I was lacking the business experience and perspective required when I embarked on my new journey as an entrepreneur last year. This programme felt exactly customised to my career journey and the first module was very useful in enabling me to analyse and challenge all my assumptions, business decisions and perspectives on strategy. I realised that I knew so little about strategy, but also how important lifelong learning was: as a professional, there’s always more to learn on the subject.

The whole module was very challenging and, thanks to Professor Wittington, very engaging. The class would share different perspectives, experiences and examples of their own organisations in a constructive and valuable way. At the end of the breakout room exercises or cases discussed, we would return to the classroom with a totally changed, refreshed and enriched perspective on the topics that would initially look intuitive and straightforward. 

After our discussions, considering all the points of view and judgement biases, suddenly these topics felt so much more sensitive, in some cases controversial, and multifaceted. It was difficult not to continue the discussions and sharing experiences during the coffee breaks and over dinner or drinks after class! In this regard, networking was one of the core pillars of the programme. I really enjoyed this part and I’m looking forward to the next modules.

It was a very remarkable experience to share, discuss and spend some time with so many talented professionals from all parts of the world, admiring their knowledge, discussing passions, ambitions and bringing each other’s challenges and experiences to the table. 

I was so amazed and inspired by the life experiences, achievements, ambitions and study ethic of my peers. When we sat down together at the dinner table, the world felt much smaller. You could learn about such a range of nationalities, their country’s history and different cultural backgrounds. It created a sense of connection and inclusion between us, even though we were from all different walks of life at the same time.

Returning home, I felt inspired and had the urge to do so many things differently, bringing new perspectives into my organisation and decision-making. There are so many concepts to recall and study. Grasping them all at once is a challenge, but the practical perspective of the programme is an additional bonus. By applying them effectively to my project and considering their impact, it is easier to create a better learning experience.

By the end of the programme, and in addition to the academic side, I truly believe that we will all have a better approach to addressing different professional challenges and a remarkable experience to reflect on when working on our current and future projects.