Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Jean Kabasomi, University of Oxford (Saïd)

Jean Kabasomi

University of Oxford, Saïd Business School

“Christian, direct, creative, thoughtful, and an advocate of JOMO (Joy Of Missing Out). I can confidently say I have been set free from FOMO!”

Hometown: London, UK

Fun Fact About Yourself: I can’t think of anything…my first job after my undergrad was as an intern in the Houses of Parliament

Undergraduate School and Major: Durham University, BA Theology & University of Edinburgh, Msc Biblical Studies

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: UBS, Associate Director in Market Conduct Policy

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 a few factors that influenced my decision. I am a Brit and have always wanted to go to Oxford. So, Saïd was always going to be an option for me. I wanted to do a one-year programme attached to a wider University system. My faith is extremely important to me and I wanted to be able to explore the relationship between morality, ethics, and business. SBS, to me, offered the best opportunity to pursue this.

What course, club, or activity has been your favorite part of the Oxford Saïd MBA experience? The Entrepreneurship and Innovation OBN (Oxford Business Network) is a student-led group that has hosted a number of pitch nights. Each event consists of fellow MBA students pitching a business idea that they are currently working on. I say idea, but we have seen pitches at various levels in the business cycle. Some have been at the initial idea stage and others at the MVP stage. It goes all the way through to those generating revenue and seeking further investor funding. I have found these events to be a great opportunity to not only get to know my classmates better, but to also learn about an industry that I would never have had exposure to like waste management in Kenya, the luxury travel market in Tanzania, smart home construction and development in the US, and payments platforms in Bolivia.

What is the most “Oxford” thing you have done so far as a full-time MBA student? I did my undergrad at Durham, so I had already experienced many of the weird and wonderful ‘Oxford’ things. I wasn’t surprised by much of it. I already had a college, attended formals, matriculated (twice! into a college and the university), am a member of a Debating Union, and was used to wearing gowns everywhere. But I was surprised to find out that we had to wear our sub fusc during exams. I think this is unique to Oxford, and therefore the most ‘Oxford’ thing I have done so far.

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? I don’t think I can pick one standalone interaction, but the nature of Oxford means you encounter many intelligent people pursuing random but inspiring things. For example, one of our classmates on the 1+1 programme founded and raised a significant sum of investment last year whilst studying for his first master’s degree. Last weekend, I met someone reading a DPhil (PhD) in digital tax law, who mentioned that her research is extremely difficult because regulators are yet to catch up with the industry. This means there isn’t much law and she is at the cutting edge in her field. SBS’s unique impact focus heightens this. For example, we have a classmate who worked in Algeria in a refugee camp before the MBA and is currently working on improving her Arabic language skills here at the Language School with the aim of going back post-graduation. I also have a friend who inspires me to explore more of what Oxford has to offer. She is always trying something new, one week she is rollerblading, another week she is trying horse riding or maybe sailing.

I think the beauty of all these interactions is that they have challenged me to think about my goals, time management, and way of doing things. One of the blessings (and sometimes curses depending on who you speak to) of a one-year programme is the speed. It means that when I have some sort of epiphany moment after an interaction with someone, I have to pivot immediately, and change the way I am doing things because I don’t really have much time to think about it. Some people find this difficult, but I have enjoyed it!

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I have self-published three books and started two podcasts.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? My fellow classmates elected me as one of the Co-Presidents of the Class. As with all leadership positions, it hasn’t always been easy but I have loved getting to know my class. I think the most enjoyable part of the role of President has been the 5-minute chats with my classmates.

A one-year programme is a pretty intense endeavour, both professionally and personally. We do solve problems and represent the class in relation to the school. For the most part, our job involves sitting down with people and being a source of encouragement and support in different situations. This may be if an interview doesn’t go as they expected or they miss home or they need help navigating the wider Oxford system. For me, leadership is about leaving people in a better position than you found them. I might not be able to solve their problem entirely, but when I can leave the conversation having had a good impact on the person, I am speaking to, then I think I have done my bit as a leader.

I have also enjoyed learning how to be a better leader from my co-president and the wider Student Council. The great thing about the MBA programme is that we all know that each person has been selected by the admissions team for a very good reason. Often, because of the number of activities we are all involved in, it can be easy to miss what makes each of us ‘special’ beyond what is on our CVs. I have found that working with the council has given me a glimpse into this. It has revealed my own weaknesses and has improved my ways of working.

What has been the biggest epiphany you’ve gained about yourself or the world since you started your MBA program? I thought I wanted a change of industry but have realized I don’t think I am at all suited to the corporate world. We are currently working through GOTO (Global Opportunities and Threats Oxford). I thought I could work in ambiguity but this module has taught me, I have a lot to learn in this area!

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