NEED TO KNOW: Student successes

Our highlights

A look back on the great things that have been happening in the Oxford Saïd community in 2015/16

Raising the sustainability cup

A team of Oxford Saïd MBA students has fought off fierce competition from 85 other business schools to win the fourth annual Nespresso Sustainability MBA Challenge.

The competition invited teams to propose sustainable business solutions based on the principle that companies have a responsibility to create and share value not just for shareholders, but also for the communities in which they operate.

Teams were tasked with devising innovative ways to help Nespresso ‘build sustainability into its luxury positioning to express brand meaningfulness’.

‘Someone scans their mobile phone over a coffee pot, and the story about that farmer in Costa Rica will come to life’

Part of Oxford Saïd’s winning proposal, Perfecting the Positive Cup, included an augmented reality app to help educate consumers about the journey of the product. ‘Someone scans their mobile phone over a coffee pot, and the story about that farmer in Costa Rica will come to life. So you could actually learn about how the coffee was produced, where it was produced, who that local community is and what impact it will have,’ explained Sonia Lipski, whose winning team also included Neil Yeoh, Sean Peters and Safia Tapal.

The final stages of the competition were held at Nespresso’s headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, and included a presentation to 13 judges who included Nestlé Nespresso CEO Jean-Marc Duvoisin, external sustainability experts, business strategists and highly respected academics in the field.

Rising to the challenge

Three Oxford Saïd MBAs were part of a winning team in the Bridgepoint Private Equity Challenge, an investment competition which aims to find the smartest assessment of leveraged buyout opportunities in the UK.

More than 34 graduate and undergraduate teams totalling 100 University of Oxford students participated in the challenge. Students attended seminars, which included a real-life case study and two presentations by Bridgepoint investment directors on how to raise leverage finance and prepare investment proposals. Teams worked together to assess the potential for a leveraged buyout of four companies suggested by Bridgepoint, and prepared an investment proposal and financial valuation model.

The winning graduate team was made up of three Oxford Saïd MBAs: Johan Krynauw, Alexander Bertoli and Ruvimbo Nyangoni. They produced a case study on the Nordic manufacturer of wooden windows and doors, Inwido. The winning undergraduate team was Rebecca Zhang, St Peter’s College; Gen Hall, St Edmund Hall; and Daniel Berg, St Edmund Hall.

Meanwhile, Oxford Saïd MBAs Sean Walsh, Kaspar Baumann and Kareem Edwards won the Hermes Private Markets Challenge. Three teams were selected from 12 to present their work to and network with the Hermes’ committee, led by Peter Gale, Head of Private Equity and CIO at Hermes GPE and an Oxford alumnus.

Teams were invited to value and prepare a bid for a limited partner’s stake in an existing private equity portfolio of companies. The winning team evaluated risks associated with the transaction, such as exit multiples and exit timings, and developed strategies to account for the risks. 

Ndakuna Fonso Amidou crowned Rare Rising Star

Pershing Square Graduate Scholar Ndakuna Fonso Amidou, who is studying on the Oxford 1 + 1 MBA, was named UK black student of the year by the Rare Rising Stars Awards 2016 in July.

Each year, the awards showcase the achievements of the best black students in the UK.

Fonso Amidou, who grew up in a village outside of Bamenda, in the north-west region of Cameroon, completed an MSc in Social Science of the Internet in his first year at the University of Oxford and is studying for the MBA at Oxford Saïd for his second year.

He started school at the age of ten when one of his brothers who was working in London started paying for his education. After taking O Levels and qualifying as a mental health nurse, he moved 
to the UK and worked for the NHS for five years. He undertook an Engineering degree at Brunel University, while continuing to work night shifts as a nurse to fund his studies.

‘It’s always been a case of being clear about what you want to achieve and never giving up’

After graduating with a first class degree, he worked for Motorola and Vodafone. At Motorola, he worked on a UN project as System Engineer, and was part of a team designing communication systems in EMEA. In 2008, he founded a healthcare clinic in Cameroon with £3,000 of his own money to address the lack of access to healthcare in rural areas. His clinic, Centre de Santé HARDA, employs more than 20 nurses and two visiting doctors, and helps more than 100 individuals each day.

Established in 2014, the Pershing Square Graduate Scholars programme funds up to five exceptional individuals each year to realise their passion of addressing world-scale social challenges by studying on the Oxford 1+1 MBA.

‘It is great to be recognised with this award and when I look back at what I have done, it’s always been a case of being clear about what you want to achieve and never giving up,’ said Fonso Amidou. ‘My focus now is continuing on the Oxford 1+1 MBA and using the experience to help me successfully grow the clinic in Cameroon.’

Forbes 30 under 30 spotlights alumni

Kate Machtiger and Meg He, two Oxford Saïd alumnae, have been included on Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for education and retail and e-commerce respectively. Kate Machtiger (MBA class of 2013/14) was recognised for her work at Luminary Labs a consultancy company which has a five-year contract with the US Department of Education.

BA Economics and Management graduate Meg He (2005–08) co-founded ADAY, a New York-based lifestyle brand which is focused on ‘technical clothing for everyday life’.

Meanwhile, MBA alumna Xu Xian, founder of Cuisines Sous Vide, and MBA alumnus Yashveer Singh, head of the Youth Venture Program at Ashoka Innovators for the Public (both MBA class of 2013/14) were recognised in Forbes’ 30 under 30 Asia 30 Social entrepreneurs under 30 Asia list.

Fintech start-up woos The Grad Factor judges

Oxford’s Sherry Wan, Bo-Erik Abrahamsson, Andrew Kent Gee, Jamie Huckabay, Patrick Standt and Jian Lim were awarded the Best General Start-Up Award for Digital Fineprint. The fintech start-up uses social media to help insurers reach more consumers.

The Grad Factor is a Government-endorsed nationally televised competition, organised in partnership with the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest Bank, which gives university business students across the UK the chance to pitch for investment and support.

Tulivu Imaging wins Skoll award

Oxford Saïd alumnus, Matt Rehrig (MBA class of 2015/16), won the fourth annual Skoll Centre Venture Award for his social venture Tulivu Imaging. He received up to £20,000 to help fund the initiative, a medical diagnostics service provider which focuses on ultrasound in Africa.

Rehrig started Tulivu while pursuing his MBA and brought many of his fellow classmates onboard to help launch the project’s pilot this year.

The annual awards are won by MBA graduates of the School whose ventures are deemed to have the most potential to create large-scale social impact.

Gold rush at ‘MBA Olympics’ in Paris

Oxford Saïd shot to the top of the gold medal table at this year’s HEC MBA Tournament (MBAT).

The School sent a squad to the MBAT at HEC Paris and returned with five golds – the most among all participating schools – with London Business School and HEC finishing second with four each.

MBAT is an annual sporting event, which brings together more than 1,500 MBA students from leading international business schools around the world.

Michelle Pearson rows for Bermuda in Rio

Oxford Saïd MBA student Michelle Pearson raced in the women’s rowing singles for Bermuda in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

It was Pearson’s first Olympics and she was the first woman to row for Bermuda. Pearson won the qualification regatta in March for Latin America and the Caribbean Islands, and has since raced at the World Cup III in Poland.

This summer, she rowed the single scull at the Rio Olympics and finished fourth in her quarter-final heat behind the three automatic qualifiers.

Commenting on the challenges of training while studying for an MBA, she said, ‘It’s my hope that this journey will inspire students, particularly young girls, to pick up a sport and value the skills it teaches them.’