As our year ends: five soundbites from 2022

5 minute read

At the time of writing this, there are just under two weeks left in our MBA. The emotions bubbling up: pressure to find a job. The frenetic energy of making the most of these last couple weeks together, while also wanting to stop and reflect and rest after this rollercoaster of a year. The heartache of knowing all 355 of us will never again be in one place, that soon I won’t be able to study under the arches of the Radcliffe Camera, that soon the 'hey, come over in 10 minutes?' will become 'work is crazy - can we reschedule dinner to two Tuesdays from now?'

I’ve lived this year so fully. Bear with me for this cliché: I wouldn’t change a second of it. There are too many moments to include, but I’d like to share five of my favourite experiences from 2022.

Vicky standing in Oxford Saïd reception next to Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum banner

OSEF: 'People say, don’t be afraid to fail. But we have to respect how scary it is to fail.'

In January, I got an email asking me to moderate a corporate innovation panel for the annual Oxford Saïd Entrepreneurship Forum. I accepted and immediately entered a spiral of panic. My friends assured me I could do it. And I did – and got to work with Emilie Colker from IDEO, Nicolas Verschelden from AB InBev, and Vijay Rajendran from 500 Global. In our one-hour panel to a packed room, we talked about the importance of building community over publicity, respecting the human experience of failing, starting (uncomfortably) small, and innovating beyond a specific product or service. It taught me to go out of my comfort zone (and what not to wear if I don’t want nervous pit stains to show).

Vicky standing on the edge of still lake with snowy mountain in background

Easter break: 'Look around: We’re in the good times.'

Over Easter break, I had three weeks to hop around my friend’s home countries: Spain with Mariana, Turkey with Zulal, and Malta with Nick. In Caravia, Spain, we drove through snowy mountains, swam in icy waters, and played hide and seek in Mariana’s childhood home. In Istanbul, we partied and dined at hand-picked places, and in Cappadocia, we hot air ballooned and rolled around in ATVs. In Malta, the second we stepped out of the car from the airport, Nick got immediately flagged down by his aunt, who exclaimed: 'I didn’t know you’re back!' Among all of the adventures, one of the best parts was getting to see the places that made our friends into who we know them as today.


MBAT: 'The winner of the dance competition is…OXFORD!'

Organized by HEC Paris, the MBAT (also known as the MBA Olympics) gathers 1500+ MBA students across Europe to compete in sporting events. My friend Emily Bartlett and I were in a pub when we tipsily agreed to become co-captains for the MBAT Dance Team. We choreographed over Easter Break and pulled everyone together in the 10 days before the competition. Our performance in front of 1,000 people included a Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys throwback, pole-dancing, cha-cha duet, and hip hop and Bollywood group numbers. The giddiness of everyone leading up to the performance made it feel like we were back in high school again. And of course, it was so, so rewarding to scream our faces off when we won gold.


Oxford SDG Impact Lab: 'Mallorca’s tourism needs desestacionalización'

For my summer internship, I took off to Mallorca as part of Oxford SDG Impact Lab’s partnership with easyJet holidays. I conducted research on how to address the overtourism of Mallorca’s peak season by promoting off-season activities. I wrote my MBA application about wanting to gain experience in sustainable tourism, and I got to fulfil this ambition during the course. My days were spent interviewing tour operators, small business owners, hotel managers, and locals, as well as exploring lesser-visited regions across the island (with beach swims, surfing, and Palma dinners in between). I was the only MBA in the fellowship, which allowed me to learn from classmates in sustainability, public policy, psychiatry, developmental studies, and engineering. At the end of the internship, we delivered a business plan for easyJet holidays to launch a product that promotes activities such as gastronomy, trekking, and sports – to help ease the partying and sun-and-beach tourism that Mallorca struggles with.

Room full of people listening intently to MBA student Princess stood at front

Social impact OBN storytelling café: 'Give your flowers before it’s too late'

One of my bucket-list MBA items was to plan a storytelling event, inspired by the Impact Lab’s storytelling cafés and the 'bring your own story' dinners I attended in New York. The aim was to skip the small talk and make room for deeper conversations between old and new friends. As our attendees walked in, we randomly allocated each person to a table to mix up social circles. We opened the event with seven volunteer storytellers, who shared experiences about the power of education, belonging, recovery, family, connections, and legacy. Then, using conversation prompt centrepieces at their tables, everyone told their own stories across dating, adventure, awkward moments, and family strife. I’m grateful to my Social Impact OBN leadership team for helping put this event on and to the White House by Tap Social for the perfect event space. And here, I’ll end with a quote from Princess, my friend and an OBN co-chair, who shared a story about her late grandmother: 'Give your flowers to the people you love, before it’s too late.'

Saudades. I learned this Portuguese word from Teresa, my talented multilingual friend. It means longing, melancholy, or nostalgia. I’ve learned that what helps me in managing change is thinking of life as a series of chapters. As this chapter ends, I welcome the saudades to enter the memories – the overcrowded Oxford Retreat dance floor, the rattle of my bike as I whiz through Jericho, putting star stickers on my friends’ faces, floating around Hinksey Lake, conversations over candlelight during formal dinners, common room run-ins, hours-long dinner party heart-to-hearts, study sessions with snacks strewn across the table — as we start writing our next chapters.