Tradition and privilege.
That’s what some associate with Oxford University. They imagine prim-and-proper students, following manners and mores out of a Jane Austen ball. Versed in Plato and Milton and pointed to the past, Oxford grads are supposedly destined to hold ceremonial posts in the House of Lords – living out their days holding tea and indulging in countryside equestrian competitions.
Forget rustic codes and rituals when it comes to the Saïd Business School. Here, people aren’t seeking refuge from the world. They’re looking to change it. Indeed, Saïd’s “whole curriculum is built around what business is going to look like five or 20 years down the line,” according to Dana Brown, director of the Oxford MBA.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP AND PROBLEM-SOLVING AMONG SAÏD’S BIGGEST STRENGTHS
As a result, Saïd isn’t your traditional full-time, one-year MBA experience. Take entrepreneurship, for example. Similar to Harvard Business School, Saïd MBAs are required to team with engineering students to start a business, experiencing all the hurdles in development, funding, and launch in the process. The school itself looks for big thinkers and risk takers, which may be one reason why entrepreneurship has established such a foothold on campus. According to the school, nearly 20% of classes eventually start their own ventures. And the school makes plenty of resources available to help aspiring entrepreneurs. They include the Oxford LaunchPad, an incubator that partners students, alumni, and faculty from across the Oxford community. The Oxford LaunchPad is also part of a larger system, which includes Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and the Oxford Entrepreneurship Centre, both leading hubs for research and support for the next Julian Dunkerton or Denise Coates. Not to mention, Oxford is just a two hour drive from Cambridge, home to the fabled Silicon Fen, and a 90 minute ride to the thriving East London startup scene.
And this sense of possibility attracted Goldman Sachs’ Zachary Bucheister, who is making the transition to the startup space. “When prioritizing schools, I was looking for a program that was internationally focused specifically on global growth, with best in class entrepreneurship opportunities,” he writes. Simply looking at the thematic integrated modules prevalent throughout the program – entrepreneurship, global rules of the game, responsible leadership – shows how in line Oxford’s orientation is with my interests and requirements. The fact that the Oxford MBA was recently ranked number one in Europe for entrepreneurship by the Financial Times only vindicates my decision, and heightens my excitement.”
What’s more, many Saïd classes weave in complex topics like resource scarcity, which have long-term implications on how businesses operate. This macro problem-solving approach caught the attention of many members of the Class of 2016. “I chose Oxford because I think it is the most forward-thinking business school and offers a view of global markets that is well-suited to the next 20 years of business,” shares Matt McGrath, a Vanderbilt grad from Massachusetts who was once a White House intern in the Vice President’s office. “This is reflected in Saïd Business School’s mission, to educate leaders who will take on world-scale challenges, and its curriculum, which includes the innovative Global Opportunities and Threats Oxford (GOTO) program.”
The GOTO tutorials actually sealed the deal for Juan Gabriel Herrera Indacochea, a Peru native who was market research professor before enrolling at Saïd. “When I found out about Oxford Saïd and the GOTO initiative, I immediately knew that it was the place for me, because of its philosophy to deal with the big issues the world is facing such as poverty, inclusion and demographic change and find business opportunities in order to create a better world.”
THE NEW “IT” SCHOOL WHERE 95% OF STUDENTS HAIL FROM OVERSEAS
In fact, Saïd has become an “It” school, the UK’s answer to the Yale School of Business, which also differentiates itself through social impact. You could call Saïd a proverbial ‘triple threat,’ offering a “unique combination of an innovative, state-of-the-art curriculum, with a diverse student body and a university with long and rich traditions” in the words of Leon Zabel, a 2016 class member who was most recently a senior consultant at McKinsey. Not even twenty years old, Saïd’s MBA program has also beefed up its intake, growing 30% in recent years to a 2016 high of 340 students. While this is 77 students short of the London Business School’s newest class, it is double the size of Cambridge Judge, also a one-year program.
Like LBS and Cambridge – where international students account for 96% and 91% of the student body respectively – Saïd is truly a global institution. 95% of its 2016 Class hail from 56 countries overseas. And this offers a big advantage to its globally-focused students, says Tana Jambaldorj, a Mongolia native and Harvard graduate who has worked as an analyst in the mining industry. “I was very drawn to the Oxford MBA’s focus on social entrepreneurship and its culturally and professionally diverse student body. As someone from a developing country, I am always interested in learning from the experiences of others around the world and identifying opportunities that can be implemented in Mongolia.”
Go to next page to access student profiles of this year’s incoming class.