The MSc in Major Programme Management: an investment in your career

4 minute read

How did you hear about the programme and what was your pathway prior to the MSc? 

I first became aware of the programme in 2013 or 2014 when I came across an article featuring Saïd Business School, highlighting Bent Flyvbjerg’s work. At the time, I was working as a consultant on multiple mega-projects that were over budget, over time and, as a result, plagued by costly disputes. Clients recognized that similar circumstances were occurring on project after project, and they were asking 'why do we keep making the same mistakes?'. While trying to understand this repeated outcome, articles coming out of Oxford Saïd were the first that opened my eyes to the fact that even though the schedule and cost issues on mega-projects manifest in the construction phase, they often are the result of events that transpired much earlier in the project development process. No project team or project control systems can effectively manage a project to a schedule or budget that was not realistic in the first place. I have been fascinated with this broader view of mega-projects ever since. It was not until I completed an international mega-project in 2019, that my workload and travel schedule allowed me to consider applying to the programme. I joined Cohort 12 in September 2020.

The Oxford community

For me, Oxford was not about the amazing history and architecture (anyone can visit Oxford to take that in) – it was about the people. Our Cohort was an amazingly diverse mix of peers that provided many unique perspectives on seemingly universal challenges in delivering major programmes that cross geographic borders and industries. The faculty was equally amazing, and it was a privilege to have the opportunity to learn from them. I very much valued the opportunity to connect with my cohort and faculty members in each module. 

How are you applying your learnings into work?

Completing the programme has given me a completely different outlook on mega-projects than most of my colleagues and clients. This has allowed me to confidently introduce a different perspective into the discussion of the causes and cures for troubled projects. As others spiral into the details to understand the causes of the overruns looking at things like labour productivity, escalation, procurement and progress. I tend to pull back to understand the larger picture and root causes of the problems, so that effective steps can be taken. 

Why the MSc in Major Programme Management?

I chose to join the programme because of Oxford’s reputation, my interest in articles published by the faculty and the programme’s focus on the social science aspects of major programmes. While all of these things met my expectations, it was the people that I met throughout the program that far exceeded my expectations. Like most endeavours, what you get out of the programme will be proportional to what you put in. The workload for the programme is manageable, but does require regular attention. I found (after a few modules) that regular weekly progress on readings and assignments gives more opportunity to digest the material and to reflect on how it aligns with your professional experience. It is never too early to consider how you will practically find the time to dedicate to the programme on a regular basis.

What advice would you give for those who are submitting their application ahead of our next application deadline in March? 

Don’t wait. There will never be the perfect time or set of life circumstances to start this journey. This is an investment in your career. The sooner you make it the larger the return will be over the course of your career.

How has the MSc made an impact in your career and personal growth? 

Nothing in my educational background would have suggested that studying at an institution like Oxford was in my future. Completing a degree at Oxford has been an honour and a privilege that exceeded all of my expectations. The learning I gained from the programme has helped me to connect observations gained during many years of working on mega-projects with research-based frameworks and given me the confidence to introduce these perspectives into my work related to troubled projects. With much of my work being international, the reputation of Oxford is more universally recognized which provides a certain level of introductory credibility.

Oxford MSc in Major Programme Management