Meet Oxford Saïd’s MBA Class Of 2022

Meeting outside class at Saïd

P&Q: In recent years, there have been several areas that have gained increased prominence in business school programming, including STEM, analytics, artificial intelligence and digital disruption. How does your full-time MBA program integrate these concepts across its curriculum?

MC: “Analytics, AI, and digital transformation are all becoming embedded across our curriculum. All students take a core analytics course in their first term; we cover machine learning and related topics in our core Technology and Operations Management course; and a number of our electives offer an opportunity to dive deeper into these issues. For example, one-third of our students enroll in our Leading Digital Transformation elective, and many also go on to take other electives covering topics such as the role of AI and analytics in marketing, predictive analytics, and machine learning for business. Still, other electives incorporate these topics as part of a broader course. For example, our Mergers, Acquisitions and Restructuring elective addresses the new developments in AI being used during the M&A process.”

P&Q: Oxford Saïd is synonymous with social impact. What are some of the resources, such as the Skoll Centre, that Saïd offers and how do they prepare MBAs to make a difference?

MC: “You are right, social impact is an extremely important theme that runs through what we do. It is core to the mission of the school, and many of our students come to the school because they want to build careers that have a positive impact on society. The Skoll Centre has a long history of supporting students in this regard. We were one of the first business schools to create a centre dedicated to social impact. Over the past 20 years, it has grown to offer a range of co-curricular initiatives, research activities, and public convenings. These include the Impact Lab, a year-long programme that focuses on personal leadership skills for building an impact career, a new seminar series where faculty are in conversation with established and emerging leaders working to address deep-rooted systemic challenges, and Map the System, a global systems change competition modeled on our flagship GOTO course.

But impact is not limited to the Skoll Centre. It’s embedded across the curriculum. We address questions of impact in our core courses on leadership, accounting, operations, finance, and strategy, and several of our electives cover these issues in more depth. Perhaps most exciting, last year we launched a new core course, Capitalism in Debate, that focuses squarely on the social and environmental impacts of business. The course does not advocate for ESG or a more active role of business in addressing social issues. Rather, it exposes students to diverse perspectives, creating a space for informed debate and discussion, so that they graduate equipped to tackle the thorniest questions about what role firms can or should play in addressing the grand challenges of our time.

I would say, though, that even as Oxford Saïd is known for social impact, other areas of business education such as finance and entrepreneurship are also areas of strength. One particularly exciting development is the growth of the Creative Destruction Lab, which gives students a chance to support new venture development and learn from experienced early-stage investors. We have also expanded our elective offerings in topics such as private equity, and we have a new course on diversity and inclusion in finance. Student engagement in the co-curricular Finance Lab, Oxford Seed Fund, and new offerings from our Entrepreneurship Centre continue to be very strong.”

P&Q: What are your two most popular elective courses among MBAs? What makes them so unique and so attractive to MBAs?

MC: “There are a number of our electives which are always popular, but two perennial favorites are “Negotiations” and “Mergers, Acquisitions and Restructuring”. I mention Negotiations since it is such a crucial skill to master, both internally within an organization and externally. And I include “Mergers, Acquisitions and Restructuring” because M&A is again at record levels across industries around the globe. ESG considerations are also rapidly gaining importance during the M&A process, which is a topic our students are keenly interested in. Likewise, it is not just for-profit firms that are doing deals but also not-for-profit entities such as NGOs and foundations. Even government departments are combining to reduce administrative costs while expanding their reach and enhancing their mission fulfillment capabilities.”

Oxford, United Kingdom, 09 May 2018. Photo by Greg Funnell


1) Social Impact: “The key motivation for choosing Oxford was its focus on impact-driven careers and the network that it provides to explore the European impact investing industry. I also loved the course curriculum including programs like GOTO and Entrepreneurial Project that help students find solutions to global problems. My team is exploring Climate Reset as part of our GOTO project, where we are looking at using a systems thinking approach to the agriculture value chain of Mexico. Coming from the impact sector, I had heard about these concepts and the tools provided by the school will give me more confidence to use them in practice.”
Taanya Khare (’22)

“Social impact is a prominent part of the Oxford MBA curriculum – few of our lectures fail to touch this subject. It is weaved into our Accounting, Marketing, Strategy modules amongst others. Then, of course, there is GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats: Oxford). This is a formal part of our curriculum, where we work on a project to identify a systematic challenge the current world is facing – and then create and map a solution. There are many great projects in the works: helping refugees, combatting smoking, and building resilience to misinformation through education. You are pushed to come up with something that can really work and be implemented.”
Mary Zhukovskaya (’22)

2) 1+1 Program: “Oxford Saïd is an institution dedicated to students wishing to harness business acumen for social impact. Further, the 1+1 MBA program allowed me to couple the MBA with a degree in Environmental Change and Management. This has given me a stronger foundation for future work on climate issues through engaging business. On a more personal note, I chose Oxford to be closer to my grandmother who lives in Wales.”
Sophia Watkins (’21)

3) Entrepreneurship: “Students come to Oxford to experience the world through wonderful people; I am no different. However, apart from the people, a reason I chose Oxford was its focus on Entrepreneurship. While I didn’t see myself starting a venture immediately, I wanted to surround myself with entrepreneurs. With a dedicated Entrepreneurship Project as a part of the core curriculum, Creative Destruction Lab, and access to the broader entrepreneurship network at Oxford, the e-bug is rubbing off on me.”
Sandeep T D S (’22)

4) Oxford Experience: “I did my best to entrench myself in the Oxford lifestyle as soon as I got here, knowing a one-year program would be over before I blinked. In this pursuit, I took up rowing my first term, in which I had absolutely zero experience. It was incredibly enriching seeing the history and traditions behind the rowing sport at Oxford and the impressive athletes that have competed on the Isis river. Early mornings and cold hands were made up for by the connections with amazing people and the beauty of the sunrises.”
Sanoma Jean (’22)

“It is definitely cycling in sub-zero temperatures by the Thames canal looking at the swans and ducks. Being a Harry Potter fan, the other highlight for me has been walking through the filming locations like the Great Hall at Christ Church College and studying at the Bodleian Libraries.”
Taanya Khare (’22)

5) Offerings: It was definitely the focus on impact and ethics. I remember attending a few events from the centres of Responsible Business (Economics of Mutuality webinars) and Corporate Reputation (R:ETRO seminars) and of course the Skoll Centre (Impact Lab Open Series), which increased my confidence about my personal ‘fit’ with the school’s values and focus. Even so, something that I have been personally taken with on the actual programme is how impact remains an underlying theme, even in core business modules such as Accounting. I have derived so much value from the practitioner-led cases in the Finance Lab and moderated debriefs of tech-for-good startups in the Creative Destruction Lab, which has really challenged my thinking around different ways of impact, some potentially even more effective than the ways I had personally engaged with before coming to Oxford.
Lakshmi C (’22)

MBA Students Hometown Undergraduate Alma Mater Last Employer
Motaz Al-Ashhab Amman, Jordan University of Waterloo Deloitte
Samuel Bailey Kingston, Jamaica University of the West Indies Caribbean Court of Justice
Mariano Basombrio Barnechea Lima, Peru University of Piura Banco de Crédito del Perú
Jacob Bignell Nelson, New Zealand University of Canterbury AsureQuality Ltd.
Lakshmi C Madurai, India PSG College of Technology Teach For India
Chibueze Dunphy Ewuzie Lagos, Nigeria Imo State University Access Bank Plc
Nomhle Gumede Majola Johannesburg, South Africa University of the Witwatersrand Izandla Property
Sanoma Jean San Diego, CA University of Denver Google
Taanya Khare Mumbai, India St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai Sattva Media and Consulting
Adriana Solano Zárate San José, Costa Rica University of Costa Rica Procter & Gamble
Sandeep T D S India Manipal University Jaipur SAP
Mary Zhukovskaya Korolev, Russian Federation University of Manchester PwC

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