Three reasons why I chose the Oxford 1+1 degree

4 minute read

When I left my job before coming to Oxford, I had the chance to chat with our CEO and ask her for advice as I entered this next phase of graduate school. One bit that resonated with me the most was to 'deliberately seek out perspectives that are different, sometimes even oppositional, than yours – because through those discussions, you not only gain new perspectives but also get the opportunity to sharpen your own views.'

As I sit in my unfamiliar graduate accommodation five months later, thousands of miles away, with three plants that have unfortunately already begun wilting despite diligent watering, I reflect on how fortunate I am to be at Oxford and in the 1+1 MBA to commit to her wise words. It certainly wasn’t accidental; I chose to pursue a 1+1 at Oxford for reasons that relate to this idea of broadening and diversifying my perspectives.

Engaging in interdisciplinary learning across the board

Coming from a finance and consulting background, much of my academic and professional life has been characterised by breadth. Finance is applicable to many sectors, and, while at my consulting firm, I worked on projects within retail, healthcare, the social sector, agriculture, and every sector in between. So much of the way Oxford pitches its programme is on the power of the University as a whole – meaning that the strength of the departments that comprise the University can be used as a powerful force for good. The 1+1 is just one tangible extension of that mindset. 

I’m excited to engage in learning from other departments and peers on topics that I’m unfamiliar with – from business to the humanities to sustainability. I’m able to continue the breadth of business while digging deeper into the other disciplines that impact and are impacted by business, including my own focus area of comparative and international education.

Strengthening and deepening my foundations in my impact area

While I strive to have an impactful future career in the education sector, I still have so much to learn. To be a responsible steward of education, you should have a strong understanding of the fundamentals that guide the education system. There is a plethora of research that guides the sector along with experiences from professors and peers whom I have yet to discover and learn from. By no means do I believe I’ll be fully versed in this by the end of my MSc, but I’ll have a great foundation and tools to further explore and ask questions. This will lead to continuous learning and personal discovery beyond Oxford.

Building a community of people who believe in large-scale, systems change

While Oxford itself is filled with people who want to make a big impact on the world, it’s great to be able to speak with other students who are grappling with the balance of private and public sector, academia and practice, and every tension point in between in their coursework daily. 

It will be fascinating to hear about what they’re learning in their 1+1 programmes and how they’re navigating similarly big questions in their specific domains of impact. I want to take this learning and apply it to the journey I hope to have in the social impact sector.

Beyond Oxford, I hope to lead as a system-level administrator within a large, public school district. The goal is to bring some of the business principles of innovation, risk-taking, and autonomy to a field that has historically been resistant to change. At the same time, I hope to be vulnerable and honest with the areas in which business thinking fails, especially as it relates to how we focus on the most underserved populations.

I hope to honour the way the education system and social impact sector strives to value people over profit, providing access to services regardless of economic background or how much money you’re able to put forth, and elevating the voices of the communities who have not historically led important conversations at the table. 

Despite how colossal the task seems, it’s a worthy endeavour given the progress we’ve made and the opportunity – and responsibility – to take it even further. I’m grateful for the chance to do this at Oxford through the 1+1.

Raffy is an Oxford 1+1 MBA Pershing Square Scholar.