During my six years at the UK Treasury, I often told people that I had the best job in government.
I loved working on financial services policy, and felt very lucky to be part of tackling some of the most important and interesting issues facing my country, from Brexit to Covid-19.
So it came as a surprise to some when I decided to take a two-year break to pursue my Master of Public Policy (MPP) at the Blavatnik School of Government and MBA at Saïd Business School, as part of the 1+1 programme at Oxford.
So why now? And why Oxford?
The right time
For me, applying to the programme came at a natural moment. After eight years of working in the public and private sectors, I was seeking an opportunity to press pause – to reflect on my career to date and really consider how I could have the biggest impact in my work going forward. The range of opportunities I’d had in government meant that I felt I could bring useful experience to both programmes. I was also arriving at Oxford with a sense not just of where I wanted to go, but how the University and all the resources at its disposal could best help me get there.
The unique selling point of the 1+1 programme
My time at the Treasury and in financial consulting has shown me first-hand that the big challenges of our world cannot be solved by the government or private sector alone.
The combination of the MPP and MBA allows me to bring this approach to my studies. The combination will give me the tools to be the best policy leader I can be. It also enables me to gain a deep understanding of the fundamentals of business and what drives decision-making in industry. This is all brought together in a genuinely global context at two schools that put service and impact at the heart of their mission.
Providing a catalyst for future impact in a real-world context
While I am already relishing the space to think that being a student again provides, a strong selling point for both programmes is the way they stay rooted in the real-world context.
Weaved throughout the programme is a constant opportunity not just to learn, but also to apply that new learning to real-world challenges. This is weaved through everything from the case method, in specific modules such as the MPP Summer Project or the MBA GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford), through to co-curriculars such as the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL).
Being part of the wider Oxford community, and all that is on offer at the University, also allows me to remain engaged in academic dialogue around my policy area of financial services.
As I start out on my two years, I’m looking forward to many things: the privilege of being back in the classroom again; the chance to learn from academics and researchers at the cutting edge of my field; the freedom to take risks in my studies and even to try entirely new activities.
But most of all, I’m looking forward to getting to know my classmates from all over the world, who come to Oxford from a huge diversity of backgrounds and careers, and have the chance to learn from them, both in and outside the classroom.
Sophie is an Oxford 1+1 MBA Pershing Square Scholar.