Focus on: Programmes

Focus on: Programmes

We spotlight three programmes across Saïd Business School to find out what students can expect.

Kathy Harvey

Associate Dean, MBA and Executive degrees

What does your programme cover?

The Oxford Saïd MBA is designed to prepare future leaders for the complex challenges they will face in their careers, wherever they choose to make their mark when they graduate. It is an intensive time, when students are challenged to think about how they want to shape their future careers. They study all the core areas of management, but they are also encouraged to think about some of the most complex issues facing business and society.

‘Students study what we call the ‘the rules of the game’’

A number of cross-disciplinary courses examine the complexity of globalisation and leadership. Students study what we call the ‘the rules of the game’, which frame the relationship between stakeholders across business, government and international institutions. Students explore what it means to be a responsible business leader and how entrepreneurial thinking can create and scale up businesses.

Our full-time and Executive MBA students are all involved in a unique project Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford or GOTO , which examines world-scale challenges such as water scarcity, demographic change and the rapidly changing nature of work itself, investigating how business can create opportunities to deal with these issues. Around the core subjects of the MBA, we build a framework designed to develop leadership potential through skills training, coaching and specialist training in consulting skills and financial modelling.

What have been your key highlights from the last academic year?

Two of the highlights for our full-time MBA students this year and for the members of faculty involved were the two international modules that we started in South Africa and New York, focusing on growth strategies and new marketing strategies respectively. Both of these initiatives allowed us to bring leaders and innovators from business and government together with our own faculty members and teach our MBA students. Our student-led Unreasonable Africa conference see more here brought leaders from across the continent to Oxford to discuss the potential for business in Africa.

‘We have one of the most diverse, international student groups of any business school’

How successful has the programme been in attracting students?

We have one of the most diverse, international student groups of any business school in the world. In 2015/16, students from 54 countries joined us to study for their MBA. One of the most rewarding and fascinating things has been to hear their different perspectives and to see what they can all achieve for themselves and for each other within such a short period of time. One of our long-term aims was also to expand the full-time MBA programme and in 2015/16, we welcomed 338 students, which was a huge achievement. We were also pleased that 31% of our full-time MBA students and 37% of our Executive MBA students were female and we will continue to seek ways of enhancing our diversity.

Why is your programme more relevant than ever in the current business climate?

It’s never been more important to understand the challenges of globalisation and to prepare future leaders to succeed in an uncertain world. As a business school which is part of a wider, globally renowned University, we are integrating the core subjects of the MBA with teaching on world-scale problems, working with colleagues from other University departments.

It is no longer enough to have a toolbox of knowledge on general management. Leadership development and an understanding of the big, sometimes intractable issues facing organisations, is essential. The School has put a great deal of emphasis on creating an MBA which is fit for purpose, designed to develop responsible and flexible decision-makers.

Andrew Stephen

L'Oréal Professor of Marketing and Chair of the Marketing faculty

What does your programme cover?

The Oxford Strategic Marketing Programme is a one-week programme for mid- to senior-level marketing managers and executives. It is open to people from marketing or non-marketing backgrounds from all over the world and people who need to know what the latest marketing trends are.

The idea for the programme came from conversations with executives about the main marketing challenges they face. What keeps them awake at night when they think about their products, brands and customers? What are the main challenges presented by a marketing landscape that is increasingly digitised and driven by technology? We’ve developed a programme where people come in on a Monday morning and we lay all of these challenges out on the table. Over the course of the week, we go through a series of topics that help people come up with a strong forward-looking strategic response in their organisation. The idea is that they can go back to the office with fresh thinking and new ideas, and a concrete plan of attack.

What feedback have you received about the programme?

It has been really well received. People like the interactive nature of the programme and find it valuable. They also appreciate the emphasis on the future of marketing, not the past.

We had people from all over the world, including the US, China, Australia, Belgium and the UK, attending the programme, from those who worked in heavy industry through to higher education and public relations. This diversity was something people really valued because they don’t normally get exposure to such different perspectives in their day-to-day working lives. They also really liked the range of high-level guest speakers who came and talked to the group and candidly shared their experiences, successes and failures.

What have been your key highlights from the last academic year?

Launching this programme was a highlight for us. We also launched the Oxford Future of Marketing Initiative which will bring together academics, leading marketers and organisations from around the world to collaborate on research and programmes at the cutting edge of marketing.

Did you receive any industry recognition in the last academic year?

Every year, the American Marketing Association releases a ranking of marketing academics based on their publishing output over the previous five years in four of the most prestigious academic marketing journals. This year, I was ranked number one in the UK, number three in Europe and top 25 globally.

Why is your programme more relevant than ever in the current business climate?

What I’ve been doing since I joined the School in June 2015 is developing a marketing curriculum that reflects the changing role of marketing in organisations and the tech-enabled world of marketing as it is today.

‘We’re looking at the evolving role of marketing within organisations and revamping what we do to reflect those changes’

Marketing is strategically important. It can be a driver of value and make an important contribution to the overall success of business, so we’re looking at the evolving role of marketing within organisations and revamping what we do to reflect those changes.

Read more about Professor Stephen’s research into consumer engagement with brands on Facebook here.

Louise Watts

Associate Director, Custom programmes

What do Custom programmes cover?

Custom programmes are tailored to a specific need of an organisation. These needs can range broadly, but generally clients are looking for some sort of transformational change. We will partner very closely with them to co-design and co-develop the most appropriate programme to help them achieve that change through executive development. They might have a new strategy; they might be growing and need to be better equipped to operate in a global environment. They might need to really focus on innovation. Or they might need to prepare the next generation to step up into leadership roles.

Our clients span a range of different sectors. We have particular strengths in banking and financial services, and we do a lot of work with professional service firms. We work with engineering, manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies, and in logistics and retail. We also work with a number of overseas governments and the UK Cabinet Office is a major client of ours.

What feedback have you received about the programmes?

For a lot of participants, there is something very special about the Oxford learning experience. We really aspire to blend the education and research that Saïd Business School provides with very dynamic, experiential learning, so people can apply that learning back in their day-to-day jobs. We’re rated top ten globally for helping our clients achieve their aims in the Financial Times rankings where they are surveyed formally and anonymously.

What have been your key highlights from the last academic year?

We designed a programme with the Royal Mail Group prior to the public flotation, helping them to be competitive in a post-privatisation world. That programme is still running and nearly 800 people have gone through it. We won the EFMD Gold Excellence in Practice Award 2015 for the programme, which was a real highlight.

We have worked very collaboratively with the Royal Mail Group since 2012 and have evolved the programme as its business context has changed. We initially targeted senior leaders and now we’re also dealing with senior managers, so it has been a real opportunity to work at scale with a client over a sustained period of time to make a significant impact on the business. Another highlight is the major project leadership academy programme we’re doing with the UK Cabinet Office. We have been running it since 2011, and we’ve just renewed a contract that will take us into 2020.

‘We’re living in a VUCA world – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous – and we can help bring that environment into focus’

Why is your programme more relevant than ever in the current business climate?

We’re living in a VUCA world – Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous – and we can help to bring that environment into focus. We don’t say to companies that we can predict the future but that we recognise it’s complex and uncertain. We have experts who can broaden an organisation’s thinking about possible future developments and then help equip individuals with the necessary skills to lead in that kind of environment. A lot of that is about personal leadership, development and reflection, but also helping them to be agile and flexible in fast-changing, ambiguous and uncertain environments.

Find out more about the programmes on offer at Saïd Business School.