Meet The MBA Class of 2021: Dániel Léderer, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Dániel Léderer

University of Oxford, Saïd Business School

“Aiming to redistribute knowledge from the colleges of Oxford to the villages of Nograd.”

Hometown: Budapest, Hungary

Fun Fact About Yourself: I played chess before I could write or read and, according to my dad, I managed to beat the whole family. Not that I recall.

Undergraduate School and Major: University of St Andrews, Economics and International Relations

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Milestone Institute, CEO

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of Oxford Saïd’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? There were three aspects that played a major role in choosing Saïd Business School. First, it was the programme’s focus on social impact, ranging from the activities of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, all the way to our core course Global Opportunities and Threats (GOTO) – which in the year of the pandemic looked at actionable systemic change ideas in response to the crisis. Secondly, the School’s recognition of the economic importance of Africa, which is also reflected by the 13% ratio of students from the continent and their enriching contributions to our class discussions. Thirdly, it was the programme’s and School’s embeddedness in the wider college and university network, which provides access to a wide range of disciplines and interdisciplinary perspectives.

What is the most “Oxford” thing you have done so far as a full-time MBA student? It was riding my bike in the rain at 5.50 am on the dim lit cobbled streets of Oxford to make it in time to our Boatclub, followed by a rowing outing in the mist, dark and cold and the sounds of the clunking roars of the crew and the shouting of our cox. When we came third from over 40 boats at one of the Oxford regattas, the hard work got finally rewarded.

Oxford is known as a place where world collides, be it in the classroom or the dining hall. What has been the most interesting interaction you’ve had so far as an Oxford MBA student? One of my most interesting interactions are my advising sessions with my advisor in the Warden’s Lodgings at New College, which occasionally involve a glass of red wine and a fireplace. Each time we meet, I receive from him an inspiring leadership training based on his vast experience as the former worldwide chairman and CEO of a major international company and his passion and knowledge in the humanities.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I founded an institute of advanced studies with over 350 students enrolled to its four-year academic programme. It had over 100 course offerings, a faculty of 100, and a community of over 1,000 alumni. Over 150 of our graduates have continued their studies at the universities of Oxford or Cambridge. Our goal was to outsource the social engineering of Hungary’s future leadership to the best universities in the world. The network and accumulation of human capital forms an ecosystem of spin-offs which are signed up to the same mission, and assist the diaspora management and the to-and-fro movement of human resources, ideas, and opportunities. Our spin-offs are comprised of a boutique management consultancy, which works with our faculty, several non-profits, and real estate development projects that aim to create space for new partnerships in the capital city and a rural campus in the countryside. I see my biggest accomplishment not in setting it up, but in having been able to leave it completely behind when coming to Saïd.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? Joining the Oxford Seed Fund as a Director has been most certainly one of the most exciting opportunities I’ve been given at Oxford. Sourcing and working with pre-seed and early-stage founded start-ups of Oxford ecosystem and working with the wider VC community has been a very intense and truly inspiring experience. The Oxford Seed Fund was the first investor in companies such as Onfido and Go1 and the OSF portfolio of 15 companies has gone on to raise over £200m in follow on capital.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I only applied to Saïd.

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? Appreciating the importance of an unbounded imagination. Human thinking is happening within constraints, but paradigm change, innovation, and system reset come about by breaking out from the chains of these contraints. Before the Haitian revolution not many believed in enslaved persons’ ability to maintain their own freedom. When the “College in Cambridge” was founded (aka Harvard), it was just a copy of its English counterpart and not many would have imagined its current standing in higher education. A week before the pandemic hit, no one would have imagined that flying will ever come to halt.


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