Executive MBA Scholars and Awardees September 2020


Dr Amena Malik, Forté Scholar

Amena Malik

Consultant / Advisor Medical Regulation, National Health Regulatory Authority, Kingdom of Bahrain

I am truly proud and honoured to have been accepted to the Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Like many, attending Oxford had been a lifelong dream for me and one that I have held as a steadfast goal throughout my career. Being accepted at Saïd at this stage in my life is even more rewarding as I can share this wonderful achievement and experience with my 3 sons and inspire them.

I was born and raised in Zambia, studied in England and the Czech Republic, worked in the US and now I live in the Middle East. I have had the privilege of working in these varied healthcare systems and with that experience I bring a valuable global perspective with an extensive knowledge of public health systems and organizational best practices. I want to share the cross-cultural insights I have acquired through years of work, study, and volunteer experience with my colleagues in each MBA class. Executives in every industry are faced with challenges that are heightened in healthcare, and I would be thrilled to help others by putting lessons learned in my career through the critical lens of each class.

Being awarded the only Forté Scholarship for Women at Saïd – I am humbled but all the more driven to continue to pave the way, and help other women achieve their own firsts.  My values have always been aligned with those of the Forté Foundation, especially that of equity and inclusion. 

I am blessed to have led a life full of firsts. I am the first woman in my family to graduate from university, and the first physician in my entire family. I hope that somewhere up in heaven my great grandmother and my grandmothers are extremely proud of the strides I have made after them. 

While I am proud of the work I have done so far, I look forward to the education I will receive at Saïd which will prepare me for the daunting task to lead ventures that will create value for all stakeholders and in particular for women, globally. 


Helio Cumbi, Hasmukh Patel Scholar


Senior Government Relations Advisor, ExxonMobil, Mozambique

Growing up in Mozambique I have first-hand experience of how a quality education allows individuals, families and communities to redefine their futures. I am honoured and proud to be the first recipient of the Hasmukh Patel Scholarship and further its commitment to Africa’s development. As I prepare for a transition from employment to managing my own business, the University of Oxford’s Executive MBA is crucial to fulfilling my objective of preparing myself for success and contributing to the development of my country in this crucial point in our history.

The diversity and wealth of knowledge of the faculty, the alumni and my cohort at the Saïd Business School made this programme my only choice. The prestigious programme has already opened doors and provided stimulating conversations with the S20 cohort that have challenged my pre-conceived ideas, reminding me that I will get the most out of the programme by keeping an open mind. In the spirit of the Hasmukh Patel Scholarship, I plan to continuously draw from this experience to uplift myself and to act as a catalyst for prosperity in my communities.


Owen Hopkin, Linbury Scholar

Owen Hopkin

Director of Audience Insight and Innovation, Arts Council England, UK

Now more than ever, great leaders are required to help us emerge from and solve the issues posed by the Coronavirus pandemic. The well-rounded curriculum offered by the EMBA at Said Business School offers just that, which is why I was absolutely thrilled to have been offered a Linbury Scholarship.
Having occupied a fairly narrow professional lane thus far - from music, to tech, and then back to the arts - beginning the course has been a real eye-opener. I'm a great believer that the widest possible perspective provides the clearest way forward and the diverse cohort of fellow students provides that in abundance. Not only is it an oven-ready network of impressive calibre, but the different sectors, backgrounds, genders, ethnicities and diversity of thought in class is an invaluable source of learning. What's particularly exciting is that it has already been a stimulating, exciting journey. And it's only just begun. 

Ruth Hopkins, Oxford Alumni Scholar

Ruth Hopkins, Oxford Alumni Scholar

Director, K'antu Ensemble, UK

I am thrilled that I have been awarded the Oxford Alumni Scholarship to study for the Executive MBA at the Saïd Business School.

I originally read Music at Somerville College and am now a social entrepreneur. I direct a portfolio of arts, heritage and education initiatives using music to benefit individuals and society as a whole, working with national and international organisations such as the National Trust, British Council and the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Given the current impact of and potentially permanent structural changes to organisations caused by Covid -19, the future of the performing arts is uncertain. Therefore, I am keen to develop deeper insights into entrepreneurial and management strategies and tactics to address this new paradigm by undertaking an EMBA. 

Through my partnership work, I will be able to disseminate the insights and skills gained from the EMBA programme and my cohort to the wider arts industry and social enterprises across society.

Eleanor Hevey, Oxford EMBA & 30% Club Scholar

Eleanor Hevey

Head of Humanitarian Policy, British Red Cross, UK

I am honoured to be awarded the Oxford Executive MBA Scholarship for Women in association with the 30% Club. As a candidate from the non-profit sector, the support of the scholarship enables me to take this leap into the next phase of my leadership journey. I have dedicated my career to addressing complex global challenges in sustainable development and the humanitarian field. I choose to undertake my EMBA with Saïd Business School because of the EMBA’s global outlook and commitment to purposeful business leadership. This is combined with the unique connection to Oxford’s intellectual and innovation ecosystem. It is a privilege to be part of such an impressive cohort and network of supportive peers from such a diverse range of professional and cultural backgrounds. The Oxford EMBA allows me to explore innovative partnerships and social impact models with these incredible colleagues, through the EP and GOTO. I hope to benefit from these fresh perspectives, to expand my horizons and make lifelong friends.  

Dr Sehar Iqbal, Oxford EMBA & 30% Club Scholar

Sehar Iqbal

Executive Director, The Sajid Iqbal Foundation, India

I am the first Kashmiri woman to get the Oxford Women’s EMBA Scholarship. I am a committed feminist and my career has focused on evening out the disparities in access to shelter, health, education and sustainable livelihoods to women. The organisation I founded in 2011 financially supports the higher education of young women whose families cannot or do not fund their education. My work on creating working community infrastructure for women’s health has been featured in the Indian media and my work in gender-responsive disaster relief has been covered internationally.

The Women’s EMBA scholarship has enabled me to acquire a world-class qualification in management that will open up new opportunities for my work. I can extend the scope of my work to include even more women who have been living lives of insecurity and want. I believe the scholarship will help me pay it forward to other women and girls.

Eduardo Alves

Eduardo Alves

Director, S&P Global Market Intelligence, US

The Oxford Executive MBA was my first and only choice of program. Exhaustive research led me to realize that only Saïd Business School (SBS) could provide what I wanted. Firstly, the comparatively small cohort and intensive week-long modules suit my learning style. In my opinion, this immersive format also promotes stronger connections with fellow students. Secondly, the dynamic SBS is an integral part of the world-renowned University of Oxford, thus intertwined with leading research and innovation. Finally, the remarkable diversity of the cohort and the global network it creates. Diversity is more than having different nationalities, ethnicities, or socioeconomic backgrounds. Diversity also represents different opinions, perspectives, and experiences. Organizations that embrace diversity stand to optimize decision-making by reducing blind spots and biases.

I am immensely grateful to receive an EMBA Director's Award. It affords me the opportunity of a lifetime: to stretch intellectually through a demanding program and to humbly leverage my multi-layered identity and experiences to enrich the Oxford community.

Jesus Briseno

Jesus Briseno

Executive President, Cerveza Minerva SA de CV, México

I am truly honoured to be a recipient of a Director´s Award for the EMBA programme at Saïd Business School. The scholarship was a final trigger in my decision to join Oxford because since I am entrepreneur, my company must fund my degree. Now that I have concluded the first module, I am more convinced than ever that Oxford is the perfect choice.  Not only have I joined a multi-cultural group of 69 people from over 40 countries, but also, I can say they are some of the smartest people I´ve met.   

Because of way the learning experience is designed, all topics are open for discussion in an environment where ideas can be challenged whilst maintaining respect towards the people debating such ideas.  I also enjoy the methodology of splitting the participants into smaller different groups so that we can get to know each other as much as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.  

In short, I truly recommend joining the SBS EMBA programme to anyone who is interested in expanding their knowledge and networking in one of the best Universities in the world: Oxford. 

Luigi Comacchio

Luigi Comacchio

CFO, Penta Foundation, & CEO, Penta Id Innovation, Italy

When I was told I had been awarded a Director's Award, deep inside I felt it was simply confirming that Oxford EMBA would be the right choice. I believe everybody has a variety of reasons for deciding to embark on such a journey but for me the EMBA is an opportunity: an opportunity for personal development and transformation, a leap into the unknown, a life-changing experience, an open door to future possibilities. I suppose this year has shown the world how unpredictable life can be. Having clear expectations on what the world would look like in two years would be too bold but I am sure that thanks to the EMBA I will be better equipped to face the challenges the future holds for our planet.

We have barely started and we have never met in person but I already feel part of a global community of incredible people who want to cooperate to help each other achieve in whatever field or region of the world. It can already be perceived we all share the same enthusiasm, the same curiosity and the same anxieties despite our profound diversity. It just feels exciting.

I must admit I was also a bit hesitant at the beginning as I am a manager in the non-profit sector, which sometimes can be very critical of business education. My fears were immediately dispelled when I had the chance to meet some of the lecturers at Saïd Business School, who made me realize I would be in very good company. Now I am very much looking forward to some of the elective modules on social innovation and social entrepreneurship, which are world-renowned for their cutting-edge approach and are one of the many reasons why I chose Oxford.

Iakovos Dimitriou

Iakovos Dimitriou

Public Finance Policy Officer, European Commission, Belgium

It is an honour to have been awarded a Director’s Award to study for the Executive MBA at the Saïd Business School. After researching different EMBAs in Europe and worldwide, I had no second thought – the Oxford EMBA was the one for me. I like the week-long module arrangement, the diversity of the cohort, as well as the opportunities that Saïd Business School offers to incubate entrepreneurial ideas and build a global network. During the application and interview process, I felt that I belonged to the School and was hoping to be selected.

Having concluded the first module at Oxford, I am now more than sure that I have made the right choice. The EMBA will equip me with the necessary skills to drive change in an impactful way. With a background in politics and having worked in the not-for-profit sector and the European Union, I am committed to contribute to social impact in Europe and more widely. The Director’s award is playing a pivotal role in helping me realise these aspirations. 


Ali Haddad

Ali Haddad

Country Director, GAME & Executive Director, Jordan Youth Innovation Forum, Jordan

Belonging to the MENA region, I realize that at Oxford I am not representing only my direct community but an entire ethnicity. One of the key reasons for me to choose Oxford EMBA was class diversity. Throughout my career, I have built strong meaningful relations at the government level and strived hard to achieve my goals related to social entrepreneurship, especially targeting the youth. Carrying that same spirit and aspirations, I am super excited to connect with brilliant people from all over the world and see how they are making a sustainable impact in their communities while also driving impressive business value. 

The recent global challenges ranging from COVID-19 to climate change have forced even the best of brands to rethink their business strategies. In such unprecedented times, I consider it a privilege to have this opportunity to learn from the intellectuals and experts who are actually contributing to resolving the challenges at hand. I expect to use this enriching learning experience and scholarship to take youth development in my home country, Jordan, to the next level. For me, Oxford EMBA is the pathway to making a sustainable socio-economic impact in my society that may benefit not only the current generation but multiple generations to follow. To achieve this timeless objective, I look forward to applying whatever I may learn inside and outside the classrooms to my organizations, Jordan Youth Innovation Forum (JYIF) & GAME Jordan.

Zulfiqar Ali Khan

Zulfiqar Ali Khan

Executive Vice President & Chief Risk Officer, Afghanistan International Bank, Kabul

I am very lucky for my admission at the University of Oxford; the graduate student EMBA degree at University of Oxford was always my dream for a long time. Receiving a Director’s Award really helped in achieving this dream as I am financing the whole program myself.

The Oxford EMBA is a prestigious degree program that I am delighted to be a part of. There is no other business school that can give me the Oxford experience or reputation. The program does not only provide us with a quality education from the best academics, but also gives us experience of global networking, leadership, diversity, knowledge that we receive from our cohort who come from more than 25 countries and different sectors with prestigious backgrounds.

Receiving the Executive MBA degree from the Oxford Saïd will not only provide me with more options in my career, but also strengthen my leadership and management skills which will help to influence other senior industry leaders at my current organization and future careers during decision-making at critical times.

Thanks to the University of Oxford.

Rick Lawrence

Rick Lawrence

EVP, CMO & Head of International Markets, TINE Group, Norway

The Director’s Award was a critical factor in both enabling and motivating me to participate in the Oxford Saïd EMBA Programme. The financial and motivational benefits of the scholarship have pushed me to prioritise continuous learning in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise considered.

Very soon after joining the cohort I have been impressed with the level of commitment, the true diversity of backgrounds (geographic, industrial, life stage), and despite the challenges of COVID a real energy and “zest for learning”. The Oxford EMBA experience is already leading to practical outcomes. Academic learning is amplified with real practical experiences shared across the cohort, looking to help and learn in equal measure. After only one module, I am enjoying the self-reflection triggered by the Leadership Fundamentals discussions: contemplating my own knowledge of self, others and context, and looking to bring this back to my team, quickly turning theory into practice.

Abolaji Olorunkoya

Abolaji Olorunkoya

Head of Finance, Azura Power West Africa Limited, Nigeria

I am grateful to God for this dream come true! I would like to express my warmest gratitude to the University of Oxford and the sponsors for granting me the EMBA Director’s Award. I must confess that without this support, it would have been much more difficult to pay the fees which at first glance, seem insuperable. 

My choice of Oxford is informed by my desire to sharpen my strategic thinking; leadership capability; experience greater connection with a diverse cohort of intelligent minds; and hear the latest thinking on how to anticipate the impacts and opportunities of fast-changing technologies and geo-political dynamics. At a more personal level, I have also worked very closely with several Oxford alumni whose unrelenting commitment to excellence has been an inspiration to me. The last two modules are a testament that I made the right choice.

I am conscious that change management is becoming increasingly data-driven and many companies are not ready for the transformations wrought by disruptive new technologies. Hence, my long-term goal for an executive MBA is to position myself properly to respond to this change. Owning and running businesses across Africa is also an integral component of my long-term goal. I believe that studying for an MBA degree will give me a better and broader understanding of global business operations and, in particular, the changing dynamics of international finance and capital deployment. Africa requires businesses that are set up and managed by leaders that possess the breadth and depth of knowledge that Oxford has provided for more than 8 centuries.

Marilin Pikaro

Marilin Pikaro

Chief Compliance Officer, Luminor Bank, Estonia

Receiving an Executive MBA Director’s Award is a great honour and a recognition. The Oxford network and environment support me to build the confidence to try new things, to think big, challenge, innovate, and approach problem sets from different perspectives. I believe that leaders taking part in the EMBA programme share a culture of hard-working, dedication, sense of responsibility, perseverance in times of difficulties and a lifelong passion for learning.

The Executive MBA Director’s Award allows continuing the academic journey in the Oxford family that I never thought would be possible now. The experience and gained knowledge will help me to contribute and lead initiatives that are meaningful for the economy, environment and communities in my country. I want to give my sincere thank yous to all supporters making this dream come true!



Marco Rodriguez-Tapia

Marco Rodriguez-Tapia

Master Black Belt Lean Six Sigma Europe – PepsiCo, Netherlands

There are multiple reasons from which we can select to justify your selection of Oxford Said Business EMBA as your program: the incredibly diverse and international origins of the cohort, the highly experienced faculty, the tradition and prestige of the University all over the world. The quality of courses and the nature of the topics prepare you to compete in a complex and global environment. 

However, there is another factor that, for me, made the whole difference, compared to other MBA offerings: the program’s vision to promote business framed on a moral compass. “Solidarity”, “society”, “conscience”  are not words usually associated with a business school. Said has created a  culture in which sustainability (and stakeholders) are aligned with profitability and stockholders. Oxford program is leading a new holistic way of doing business that can help enterprises to navigate these uncertain times.  In a world where companies now must think about the environmental and societal impact they may have, where global systemic crisis affects all industries at once, this vision may help and support not only businesses but their communities as well.   

Being awarded a Director’s Award was a tremendous honor for me: it reinforces not only my wish to succeed in the program but also a commitment to become an ambassador of Dean Tufano’s goal to promote  “decent leadership".

Natalie Shapanis

Natalie Shapanis

Client Director, Oracle Corporation, UK

Before embarking on the journey of starting the EMBA I spent a lot of time reflecting on what I was hoping to achieve. It is by far the greatest investment I have ever made in myself, economically, professionally, and personally. I guess the big question is, is it worth it? Having completed the Post-graduate Diploma in Global Business last year and completing Module 1 of the EMBA a few weeks ago, I can already confidently assure you that in my opinion it is. Putting aside the sense of pride and confidence I feel when I tell people I am studying at one of top business schools in the world, there is an even greater sense of inspiration and enjoyment, which echoes throughout the cohort. The sharing of knowledge and experiences across such a diverse group of leaders makes me challenge the way I look at the world, and the ways in which I lead. The immersive one-week modules encourage people from all over the world to participate; through our cohort alone I now have a network and community spanning 40 nationalities! It is a great privilege to have been awarded a Director’s Award.

Kirstin Simons

Kirstin Simons

Director Corporate Affairs, Essent (part of E.ON group), the Netherlands 

I am very grateful to Saïd Business School for granting me a Director’s Award. The award provides opportunities for students who would otherwise not be able to join the program. The award also encourages those with a professional track record to work extra hard, e.g. by sharing their experience and giving back to the cohort. 

I have a specialization in Communication and Public Affairs and worked in the energy, telecommunications and specialty chemicals industry. With the EMBA I want to expand my skills to be able to take on commercial and more general management responsibility in business or even start my own venture. Next to learning relevant content, I am therefore also keen to get inspired by the ideas and experience of my peers and extend my international network. The first week of the EMBA has already started promisingly and despite the virtual setting the School has made every effort to ensure we were able to make personal connections.

I am convinced that by discussing topics that are relevant to society and business from different perspectives, we will grow personally and become more savvy and critical thinkers. Following the first week, I am even more looking forward to the coming two years. 



Gwendoline Kooko Quarshie

Gwendoline Quarshie

Audit Manager, Banking and Capital Markets, Deloitte, Ghana

Enrolling in Oxford University is not only my childhood dream, but also my quest to acquire the right skill sets to enable me to live my purpose. Simply put - it’s a road to self-discovery.

The scholarship meant a great deal to me at a time when liquidity challenges were the order of the day due to the impact of COVID. Honestly, at a point in time, I constantly battled the thought of deferring the EMBA course and this thought occupied my mind daily. Just then I was awarded the scholarship, and it thus meant a great deal to me - it was a 'dream come true moment 'I was filled with great joy and felt part of a wider community with the mission to help advance the course of women.

I was particularly enthused about my leadership class, where after each session in Module 1, I sat back to reflect on my leadership skills and what I could do better from the case studies. The EMBA period, I believe, is a time for sober reflections on my life, how I can positively impact the people around me and the world at large. In addition, the diversity in my cohort presents great learning and networking opportunities. The Analytics course was an eye opener for me, adding on to my knowledge.

I believe acquiring the right leadership, technical and strategic skills will shape me as I wholeheartedly live my God-given purpose of coaching and mentoring the younger generation. The skill sets to be acquired throughout the remaining modules and my interaction with the Oxford community will enable me to contribute profoundly in the lives of these young people. I also want to be a role model to women who want to pursue their goals, further studies in Oxford or elsewhere, but are faced with myriad of challenges.  

The deep connections formed in my cohort are incredible and makes me feel part of a global support system with my (over 68) global classmates. I believe this is an interesting, challenging, fulfilling, and overall life-changing journey. I am beginning to see a shift in my decision making and leadership styles. I am super excited to belong to this great network of world-class leaders and ready to learn and contribute my part in solving world-scale problems.          


Scholarships and funding

Read about scholarships and awards

There are a number of scholarship opportunities and awards available from Saïd Business School, Oxford University, and external sources.

Some have fixed application deadlines and some require an additional action from candidates in order to be considered.