Meet Oxford Saïd’s MBA Class Of 2019

Diana Kolar

Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

“Exuberant, compelling, women-empowering financial leader, passionate about connecting people and binge-watching British crime drama.”

Hometown: Katonah, NY

Fun Fact About Yourself: I spent one year as a German princess and NYC was my royal court! I rode in a convertible down 5th Avenue as part of the annual German-American Steuben Day Parade, and also made a special appearance alongside Michael Strahan on Good Morning America.

Undergraduate School and Major: Georgetown University – Finance, Spanish and Justice & Peace Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: J.P. Morgan, Vice President – Debt Capital Markets

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: At J.P. Morgan I lead the Junior Women in Banking (JWiB) group, which works to promote and retain female analysts and associates in the Investment Bank. After being promoted to Vice President, I was also selected as the only new promote to join the Vice President Women’s Network Operating Committee. My biggest accomplishment at the firm was the impact that these groups had on other women – helping them to build meaningful relationships and find support and friendship across the bank.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? Driven and adventurous! With almost all the student body coming from outside of the UK, most of my classmates have uprooted their entire lives and moved across countries or continents to study at Oxford, resulting in an energy that is both intense and invigorating. I have not yet met two people with the same professional history, which has made each conversation compelling and unique.

Aside from your classmates, 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? After spending 6+ years surrounded by a strong finance network in NYC, I sought an MBA program that was both international and filled with students who would approach problems and conversations from many different perspectives. Oxford’s focus on social impact and experiential learning also captivated me – rather than only learning from historical case studies, we will have the opportunity in our Global Opportunities and Threats (GOTO) project to tackle current, global scale problems from a business perspective. I wrote my undergraduate Justice & Peace Studies thesis on the importance of incorporating experiential learning into business education, and Oxford Saïd’s tenets match the learning principles that I value highly. I am also a HUGE Harry Potter fan and may or may not have packed my wand in my suitcase…

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school? I cannot wait to join the Oxford Seed Fund, which is a student-run fund that invests in early-stage ventures founded by Oxford students and alumni. I am hoping to pivot to a career in investing post-MBA, and this direct experience coupled with the opportunity to engage with and support the Oxford ecosystem of entrepreneurs is incredible. I am also hoping to row for my college (Queen’s!) and relive my undergrad a cappella glory by joining a singing group on campus.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I have half-completed MBA applications dating back to 2014, but the programs and timing never quite felt right until I opened the Oxford application last year. The essays flew out of me – I had enough work experience to know what my professional accomplishments and strengths were, and I also had been exposed to enough to know what educational and career gaps I needed to fill to achieve my future goals.

How did you decide if an MBA was worth the investment? This is what I struggled with the most about the MBA – until I discovered the European one-year MBA programs. The lower opportunity cost of only being out of the workforce for one year, plus only paying one year of tuition and getting a partial scholarship made the Oxford MBA a compelling financial decision for me.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? Only Oxford! I really loved my life in NYC and was only willing to uproot it for a program that fit all my needs completely. With Oxford’s international, socially-driven and adventurous student body, at a world-class university with an experiential learning pedagogy that I feel strongly about – I knew this was the program for me.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? N/A – just Oxford!

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? To come…ask me again in a year!

What do you plan to do after you graduate? I am looking to pivot to a career in investing post-MBA, with a focus on social impact and hopefully also incorporating some of the technology/VC skills I will learn from the Seed Fund. The big question for me is where…NYC will always be my home, but I am looking forward to being captivated by other cities during my time abroad and may be tempted to spend more time away!

Where do you see yourself in five years? Excellent question…in 5 years, I think I will be back state-side, hopefully excelling in a career that has real transformative social impact and also building a family with fiancé (whom I kidnapped across the Atlantic to join me in Oxford for the MBA year).

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