From entrepreneur to finance with the Oxford Executive MBA

4 minute read
Sophia Metz

If you thought that an Executive MBA might involve lots of sitting around in lectures and solo study, then think again.

The Oxford Executive MBA is interactive, engaging and completely different from any other kind of training. But then, Saïd Business School is not a conventional business school – and that’s a major part of its appeal.

My path to Oxford has been unusual. Growing up in France, I was keen to gain real-world experience outside the classroom and run my own business from a young age. After graduating with a degree in advertising, I worked as a consultant with large ad agencies, such as Publicis and Saatchi & Saatchi, to bring digital transformation to companies such as L’Occitane and Michelin.

Throughout my career, I’ve specialised in bringing innovation to traditional industries. In 2012, this led me to open the world’s first esports bar – the equivalent of sports bars for gamers. At the time, I was told gamers were too introverted and didn’t have any interest in socialising in bars. But I was convinced the issue was simply that there were no places where gamers like me could meet.

I opened the first bar in a tiny venue in Paris. It proved very popular, attracting patrons from the US, South Korea and worldwide. This eventually led me to open bars in London and Berlin and ultimately to 30+ subsidiaries and franchises in eight countries – all run under the Meltdown brand.

Meltdown had just closed a new fundraising round when the pandemic hit – which resulted in our revenue drying up overnight. This was the first time I’d felt trapped in my role as an entrepreneur. I felt a great sense of responsibility towards the business, its investors, and to the employees and franchisees. It was a very stressful time, but we recovered.

In 2022, I decided to sell the business to a Swedish company in the hospitality sector. I led the M&A process, including the due diligence, legal and financial structuring.

The deal represented a chance to secure the future of Meltdown and also enable me to explore new career opportunities. 

Sophia Metz

I’d always been interested in pursuing a career in investment, particularly private equity – drawing on my financial, operational and strategic experiences. But, I wanted to dive deeper into the theoretical aspects of these topics to complement my practical experience. This was when I started to think about returning to academic study.

Having researched different options, I decided that the Oxford Executive MBA would offer everything I needed. In July 2022, I found out I’d been awarded a place and also, subsequently, a scholarship.

Of course, Oxford is a hugely prestigious and internationally recognised place to study. So, that was part of the appeal. But the Executive MBA has so many other selling points. The quality of the teaching is, as you’d imagine, exceptionally high. You’re taught by world-leading academics and tutors who have a huge amount of experience in the business world.

The teaching style is also important. You’re not just sitting there taking notes in lectures – the classes are very interactive and you’re learning from all the class discussions.

I love the way the programme is structured. My life is very hectic – I’m working as a management consultant, writing a book and studying. So, things could easily become chaotic. But the Executive MBA offers you a specific, intensive window to focus on ‘Oxford’ during those study weeks, and you can get on with your life in between these modules.

The modules have validated everything I’ve learnt as an entrepreneur, but I’ve also been able to apply the theory to my current consulting work. From valuation techniques for buy-out projects to turnaround frameworks for my clients, I use Oxford lessons in real life all the time.

The Executive MBA is very different from what I’d imagined. It’s a part-time programme so I thought there would be fairly limited social contact with other students, but I was wrong. There’s a fantastic, supportive community.

You’re learning with – and from – 70 students from all over the world. My cohort includes an MP from Turkey, a student who is running a fruit export business in Uzbekistan, and a new mother who has returned to study after giving birth during the programme! There are people from all walks of life.

I’ve formed some great friendships on the programme, and this has played a big part in my recent move to London. I’ve even set up a consultancy with one of my classmates – facilitating buy-outs in the electric vehicle space.

The mentoring and alumni networks are hugely important, too. All students are assigned a mentor, and mine has provided invaluable advice as I’ve progressed through the programme. Similarly, the alumni network has allowed me to connect with lots of professionals in the business community who have benefitted from the Executive MBA themselves and now want to give back to others.

The programme has already helped me develop professionally and personally. I wouldn’t now be transitioning to a career in the private equity sector without the Oxford Executive MBA. Choosing this programme has been the best decision I’ve ever made.

If you’re considering the Executive MBA, don’t feel intimidated or daunted by the fact that it’s ‘Oxford’. Everyone is so welcoming. Take a chance and see where it leads you.

The programme has already helped me develop professionally and personally. I wouldn’t now be transitioning to a career in the private equity sector without the Oxford Executive MBA.