Oxford MBA

The Zoom workout makes it’s return, the joy of running in the mud and investigating the Indian Insurance sector…

A rare blue sky in Oxford

I know I am always shocked at how quickly these Sundays come around, but here we are again, another week in my MBA life done. I also really do appreciate this Sunday evening reflection time; it’s useful to a) remind myself what has happened in the week and b) give myself a moment to reflect on what I’ve achieved in the week, especially when some weeks feel like I’ve made no progress.

This week was another odd week, shall we say. With the previous week being the assessment week and everything was focussed on the BA presentation and assignment, this week was a hybrid of getting back to normal classes and an assessment week. The assessment for this week was also a little unusual in that it was a team based one, we had 24 hours to complete it and it’s main focus was on the intersection of business and politics.

“Global Rules of the Game” is a 0.5 credit module in which we had to work in our study teams and present a 4 minute presentation along with a 3 page slide deck and accompanying 2,000 words. The case study was looking at the insurance sector in India and the case for increasing the Foreign Direct Investment cap. My team had to present the case from the viewpoint of a strategic advisor who was helping the international insurance companies to get this Bill passed through the Indian parliament. It is a real case which happened in India, and the international insurers were successful in getting the cap raised.

The focus of this module was “non-market” strategies and what you have to take into account, as business leaders, outside of your immediate marketplace. So things such as government and politics, activist groups, wider communities and society etc. It was very interesting and something I hadn’t really considered before. It was also an intense 24 hours turning this presentation around with my team, all working remotely over Zoom.

As it is worth 0.5 credits, Global Rules of the Game became our main focus for the week, but we did have one class timetabled in. This half term we start the new courses: Marketing, Business Finance and Analytics with the latter being the one we started this week. It’s essentially Statistics, which I have to say I have hated since GCSE Statistics all the way through to a module of it in my Undergraduate degree. I am yet to change my mind on it…

Zoom zoom zoom workouts

This week also saw the return of my MBA Zoom workouts. Since the gyms are now closed, I offered to lead my classmates through a 30 minute HIIT workout over Zoom. The feedback I received was so lovely – it seems like everyone enjoyed it. I loved taking the class so it will become a regular Thursday morning feature, definitely through this lockdown and even beyond if the demand is still there.

This week I really have enjoyed my running as well. Mud featured heavily as Oxford seems to have its own micro-climate of rain pretty much all the time, so most of the parks have now turned to mush. I have found a new love for cross-country running and just getting out in the fields. It is much more enjoyable than what I remember of the annual cross-country race at school, where about 500 kids were let loose through Cassie’s woods and it was a social experiment to see how many of them returned in one piece.

The evenings and weekends definitely do feel strange. Pre-lockdown we would be going out most evenings to meet and socialise with our new classmates. Now that just isn’t happening. Instead, we are having online Zoom calls and Michaela and I have started a routine of Friday night Christmas movies! Zoom just doesn’t have the same appeal or effect as meeting in person, and as much as I’ve tried to meet up with one other person to walk around University Park (it is a fun game of “spot the MBAs” whenever you go there!), you can’t really do that after 3:30pm as it’s nearly dark.

I do have the occasional moment where I worry that lockdown is really impacting on our ability to make the most of the MBA; as much as I love learning from our incredible faculty and applying it to real-life situations, one of the major benefits of an MBA is your classmates and the incredible people you meet, who go on to be the business leaders of the future. I think I’ve probably only met about 50% of the cohort, which is crazy to think there is over 150 people I’ve still even yet to come across. But alas, I realise this is very much a ‘first world problem’ and there are people in much worse situations than me, so I’m not complaining. Although, everyone is allowed a little wobble from time to time…

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