PERSPECTIVES: Student experiences

The Oxford experience

From its blend of new and old to the unique collegiate system and rich alumni network, students from the MBA class of 2015/16 reflect on their Oxford experiences at Saïd Business School.

‘For over eight centuries, leaders from across the world, and from a variety of different sectors, have chosen to study at Oxford’

Words: Hannah Stodell

Choosing your MBA programme can be a bewildering process. Class size and format, reputation and rankings, the student and alumni community, and location and costs are all key considerations when researching and deciding whether a business school and course is right for you.

For over eight centuries, leaders from across the world, and from a variety of different sectors, have chosen to study at Oxford – and for many different reasons.

Collegiate connections

The collegiate system is a key draw and differentiator for students. Saïd Business School is truly embedded in the University of Oxford and all MBA and EMBA students are enrolled in an Oxford college during their time studying here.

This unparalleled access to a rich and truly global network of academics, students, alumni, staff and friends has affirmed the School’s reputation for entrepreneurship and innovative business education the world over.

‘We’re exposed to great things through our college lives’

‘I don't think there’s any business school in the world that would give you the experience that you get here,’ says Jessica Penberthy, part of the MBA class of 2015/16. ‘We’re exposed to great things through our college lives and amazing opportunities to meet the smartest people in the world.’

The University’s wider network was a key attraction for fellow MBA student Neil Yeoh. ‘We’re not just a business school; we have access to the wider University of Oxford and that includes everything from sports to academia to being 
able to talk to DPhil students about their research in leading areas of science, which wouldn’t be possible elsewhere,’ he says.

During his studies, Yeoh was fortunate to meet and learn from
a string of high-profile business leaders, including former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore, Ireland’s first female President Mary Robinson and Kofi Annan, former secretary-general of the United Nations. However, he feels he has learnt most from his peers. He says: ‘It’s been a transformational experience, mainly because of the people that I have met on my course.’

It’s a view shared by MBA student Dhiraj Daryani. ‘I have met some fantastic speakers and world leaders at Oxford,’ he says. ‘But some of the most influential people I have met have been my colleagues; the people who sit with me in the classroom. They have truly inspired me to think about things from a completely different perspective and those are the learnings that I’ll take with me post-MBA and I’ll keep for life.’

Old and new

The University’s surroundings, which blend new and old, are also a source of great inspiration for many of Oxford Saïd’s students.

‘From the time that you enter the city of Oxford, unexpected moments hit you, one after another’

MBA student Madhumitha Ramanathan, was humbled when she first saw the 800-year-old University colleges. ‘I had goosebumps and I was filled with pride,’ she recalls.

The spectacular views across Oxford’s famous spires also captivated Kinshuk Kocher, an MBA student from India. ‘From the time that you enter the city of Oxford, unexpected moments hit you, one after another,’ he says. ‘From those beautiful spires, to having your matriculation in the Sheldonian Theatre, to the dinners – the way everything is done here is unexpected.’

For Kocher, an Oxford Saïd MBA offered more than just a business education, it also took him on a personal and professional journey, and encouraged him to think about the bigger picture in business.

‘Oxford Saïd is reinventing the business education programme,’ he says. ‘It’s not about just maximising shareholder value, it’s about creating value for stakeholders in the wider economy. Learning about responsible leadership, water scarcity, the future of work, world-scale problems that face global businesses – all of this is completely unique to Oxford Saïd and gives students the broad perspective that is required in today’s dynamic and ever-changing world.’

Learning by doing

In this uncertain and volatile business climate, Oxford Saïd puts a real emphasis on entrepreneurship and innovation and all students are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and get involved in the co-curricular opportunities available to them through the School.

A stand out experience for Kocher was the School’s 3-Day Startup, a 72-hour learning-by-doing campus workshop held in February, which teaches entrepreneurial skills to university students in an extreme hands-on environment.

‘In three days, we took a business idea, converted it into a business product type and pitched it to a set of investors at the end of the third day,’ he says. ‘These experiences inspire you to do better things.’

To hear more Oxford experiences from the MBA class of 2015/16, watch our short video.