I completed the first module of the Oxford Executive Diploma in Financial Strategy recently, and found myself reflecting back to last year when I was unsure of starting this diploma programme and hesitated to apply. Now I can say for sure that submitting that application was one of greatest decisions of my life.
As a private equity investment professional, I was looking for an opportunity to solidify my knowledge and augment my skills in business finance and strategy so that I can make better investment decisions. However, there were certain conditions I had to consider. Firstly, I wanted a programme that offered a flexible delivery method as I wanted to continue my current position whilst completing my studies. Secondly, I was looking for a programme that would offer an in-depth focus on the two areas that I was interested in: strategy and finance. As I have studied broader business areas during my previous degrees, including specialisms such as accounting and economics, I knew I did not want to redo these again. Lastly, as an experienced professional, I was looking for an opportunity to learn about real-world case studies and to have high-level discussions, rather than studying theories as I had done in my undergraduate degree. After due consideration, I concluded that the Executive Diploma in Financial Strategy offered by Saïd Business School was the best choice out there for me.
During module one, every aspect of the class exceeded my expectations.
The class was delivered to a very high quality, focusing on real-world business cases. Richard Whittington, our professor, stood at the centre of the class and continued his lecture by introducing a new topic and giving the class an opportunity to discuss this with each other. It was a more dynamic style of learning, and an environment where you can learn from everyone in the class rather than a traditional style where you only learn from the professor. Everyone in my class was very enthusiastic in sharing their views and experiences. During the discussion, I was sometimes surprised by my cohort peers or Professor Whittington who would assert some critical points I had never thought about before. Those points stuck in my head during the class and helped me build my own perspective of strategy. The classes took place over four days with a very packed schedule, which meant I could make the most of my learning and time in Oxford.
In addition, the fact that the class is made up of people from all over the world, gave me a chance to hear different perspectives from every corner of the globe. It was an enlightening experience to realise that there can be differing views and solutions for a particular issue depending on which culture and location it can be found. Furthermore, everyone in the class was very friendly and active in hearing new perspectives and making new relationships. Even during the coffee breaks, everyone was busy networking, introducing their backgrounds and discussing their business cases. Lastly, the programme team hosted numerous events outside the classes, including a tour of Oxford, attending Evensong at the Christ Church Cathedral, and having a college dinner at Pembroke College. These events were great opportunities to build closer bonds with each other. So much so that, since module one has concluded, our cohort has formed small groups made up of 4-6 classmates and we are having frequent conference calls to discuss and share new business cases and ideas. This network, full of amazing people, is a valuable asset that I could not have developed elsewhere.
Last thing to comment on is the Oxford experience itself. Different from large cities like London or Seoul, Oxford is a very quiet and peaceful place. I found that everyone I met in Oxford, from places such as cafés, hotels and pubs, were very warm and kind. I naturally thought that Oxford is the perfect place to study and have a ‘thinking period’ away from Seoul where my busy day-to-day work takes place. In addition, Oxford is full of ancient buildings, which will make anyone visiting feel like they have been transported back to medieval times! I feel like Oxford is a magical place that offers anyone an opportunity to enlighten themselves.
Even though I’ve only completed the first module, I feel that I have learnt and experienced so many new things that have empowered my skills and enhanced my knowledge already. I cannot wait to go back to Oxford, meet with my cohort and learn a lot more over the remaining modules!