Saïd Business School, University of Oxford
Describe yourself in 15 words or less: Hard working, ambitious and highly competitive achiever with a passion for finance, technology and business
Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa
Fun Fact About Yourself: Finance nerd by day and an aspiring guitar player and a red-wine connoisseur by night.
Undergraduate School and Major: University of the Witwatersrand, Bachelors of Commerce in Finance with Honours
Employers and Job Titles Since Graduation:
Standard Bank Group – Vice President
Standard Chartered Bank – Associate and Analyst
J.P. Morgan – Research Analyst
Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Growing up in South Africa during the 1990s has provided me with a unique and humbling perspective on life. I was old enough to remember a number of the injustices of the apartheid era, but I was also able to enjoy the freedom that one would not necessarily had been able to enjoy under apartheid. Against the odds, I’ve managed to build a long and successful investment banking career at top international banks (where many have failed or given up), travelled the world (including many countries in sub-Saharan Africa), and now have the privilege to live and study in one of the world’s most historic universities, Oxford.
Looking back on your experience, what one piece of advice would you give to future business school applicants? For me, the first step to applying to business school was to understand how I wanted to further progress my career. Once you have a clear understanding of this, it is then important to choose a school whose curriculum and specialisations are closely aligned to your objectives. It is critical to do this early on, so that you focus on applying only to schools that meet your criteria, thus giving yourself the best chance of being accepted to your school of choice.
In terms of preparation, there’s plenty of research out there which tells you that practice is most important whether it’s GMAT, essays or interviews. My advice is twofold: (1) Start preparation early and find a routine or method that works for you; and (2) Be yourself, back your talent and convey how you can be a unique proposition to the plethora of ideas, innovation and debate that is at the heart of Said’s and Oxford’s culture.
What was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? Business, politics, technological change and society do not exist in isolation, but are perpetually influencing each other. The fact that Oxford’s MBA seeks to integrate a range of different skills, ideas and approaches is a key factor in choosing this school.
The curriculum is up-to-date, reflecting complex problems and a turbulent environment that business and society operate in. The opportunity to rely on Oxford University’s world-class research and knowledge from various disciplines as an additional approach to finding pragmatic and innovative solutions to these problems is a key differentiator which can help play a key role in addressing social and economic reform, particularly in developing markets.
The vast array co-curricular activities such as the Oxford Said Finance Lab; Venture Idea Exploration Workshop and Entrepreneurship workshop (to name just a few) are an attraction because it allows for individuals to find a topic that resonates with them – or, alternatively, learn something outside their comfort zone – that’s the beauty of Oxford, there’s something for everyone.
What would success look like to you after your first year of business school? I would define success by the opportunities that I have had during my time at Oxford – to share my ideas, insights and thoughts, pursue entrepreneurial opportunities, exchange and debate perspectives on global matters, and help solve global issues with my peers across the university. Furthermore, engaging with individuals on a personal level to foster friendships and networks that will last a lifetime will also define my time at Said.