MIT Sloan | Mr. Refinery Engineer
GMAT 700- will retake, GPA 3.87
Yale | Ms. Social Impact AKS
GRE 315, GPA 7.56
Harvard | Mr. Political Consultant
GRE 337, GPA 3.85
Stanford GSB | Mr. Singing Banking Lawyer
GMAT 720, GPA 110-point scale. Got 110/110 with honors
Berkeley Haas | Ms. 10 Years Experience
GMAT To be taken, GPA 3.1
Said Business School | Mr. Across The Pond
GMAT 680, GPA 2.8
Yale | Mr. Army Infantry Officer
GMAT 730, GPA 2.83
Wharton | Mr. Army & Consulting
GMAT 760, GPA 4.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 360 Consultant
GMAT 720, GPA 3.4
N U Singapore | Ms. Biomanager
GMAT 520, GPA 2.8
MIT Sloan | Mr. Low GPA Over Achiever
GMAT 700, GPA 2.5
Stanford GSB | Mr. Corp Finance
GMAT 740, GPA 3.75
Harvard | Mr. Improve Healthcare
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Wake Up & Grind
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
Darden | Mr. Fintech Nerd
GMAT 740, GPA 7.7/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Minority Champ
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Darden | Mr. Senior Energy Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 2.5
Harvard | Mr. Merchant Of Debt
GMAT 760, GPA 3.5 / 4.0 in Master 1 / 4.0 in Master 2
Stanford GSB | Mr. Indian Telecom ENG
GRE 340, GPA 3.56
Stanford GSB | Ms. East Africa Specialist
GMAT 690, GPA 3.34
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Nonprofit Social Entrepreneur
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Chicago Booth | Ms. Start-Up Entrepreneur
GRE 318 current; 324 intended, GPA 3.4
Duke Fuqua | Ms. Health Care Executive
GMAT 690, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. Professional Boy Scout
GMAT 660, GPA 3.83
IU Kelley | Mr. Construction Manager
GRE 680, GPA 3.02
IU Kelley | Mr. Clinical Trial Ops
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.33

Oxford’s Saïd Business School: Hardly A Stuffy Downton Abbey

The University of Oxford

The University of Oxford

‘THE MBA CURRICULUM IS BUILT AROUND WHAT BUSINESS IS GOING TO BE LIKE IN 20 YEARS’

Before taking the job as dean on July 1 of 2011, the Harvard professor says he spoke to many business executives, asking one key question. “What are the handful of things that will fundamentally alter business in 25 years?” The answers ranged from geopolitics and technology to demographic changes and natural resource scarcity.

“The next question I asked is, ‘As a business school should we teach any of this stuff?’ The answer is yes. Take demography. It was usually the first answer, with the aging of the population in the U.S., Western Europe, Japan, and China and how that will change patterns of consumption in real estate and health care. But no business schools teach demography. In some class, a school might do a few minutes on it. The problem is we don’t have demographic experts on the business school faculty.”

Tufano, however, went to Oxford’s other departments and cobbled together a digital course on Global Opportunities and Threats with curated content from experts all over the university. It has been introduced as a requirement in the MBA program. “It is a flipped course, with all the equivalent of classroom lectures and then there is a tutorial group with one faculty member and five students,” he says excitedly. “We have two modules a year and plan to add a new one with every new group of students, a deep dive into demography, big data, or water resources. Alumni can see all the papers the students have written. Our goal is to get the alumni to interact directly through the course.”

Adds MBA Director Brown, “The whole curriculum is built around what business is going to look like five or 20 years down the line and what do you need to think about that. How can you really be prepared to engage with stakeholders and others who will shape some of the issues like water shortage and demographic change.”

THE UPSIDE AND THE DOWNSIDE TO A ONE-YEAR MBA PROGRAM

Then, there is his less original notion that a business school should be thinking not only about effective leadership but responsible leadership. “It always struck me as odd that only business school professionals think they have a view on this,” he says. “We have an entire university best known for its humanities so we asked them for help. We now run an elective program called Engaging with Humanities that is team taught by team business school professors, philosophers, historians, theologians, even an orchestra conductor. At Oxford, I can talk to the guy who is developing particle accelerators, a world famous doctor or an 18th century literature professor.”

An obvious obstacle in leveraging all of Oxford’s assets is the fact that Saïd’s MBA is only a one-year experience. Yet, Tufano insists that it doesn’t make all that much of a difference. “The two-year MBA programs are usually eight months times two,” he says. “We are 12 months, September to September. That last semester in two year programs is, shall we say, less intense. So I don’t find that there is a tremendous difference there.”

Brown also plays up the significantly lower opportunity costs. “The upside is that you’re out of work for only one year and you have one year of tuition,” she says. “The downside is it’s very intensive. If you don’t really know what you want out of an MBA, it can be difficult to jump into that experience. In the month of February, when it gets really dark and depressing, we get complaints and then they come out of it and they can’t believe all that they have accomplished in the year.”

When Tufano hits his four-year mark on July 1, he can sit back for a moment and enjoy all that he has accomplished at Oxford. But with a mind that keeps generating new ideas, he seems unlikely to do that. “I haven’t written off anything yet. We had an idea for a pre-internship program where we could help students have a different kind of work experience before they came. There is a lot of demand on the student side, but we have yet to figure out a way to tap employer interest.”

DON’T MISS: P&Q’S NEWLY UPDATED PROFILE ON OXFORD’S BUSINESS SCHOOL or THE EUROPEAN OPTION NEVER LOOKED SO GOOD: PRICES PLUNGE ON MBA DEGREES FOR NORTH AMERICANS

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.