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Ian Robertson

Degree:

Diploma in Strategy and Innovation

Location:

Canada

Industry:

Investment Management

Year:

2015

By Ian Robertson

Three weeks last summer….

Last year I attended the Said Business School’s Advanced Management and Leadership Program (OAMLP).  The course was a three week residential program (at Egrove Park, not the main business school) that did three things: refreshed and updated my business skills (broad highlights of MBA subjects); assessed my leadership style (via 360 degree feedback, plus some theoretical framing and role playing); and provided personalised coaching to help me work more effectively.  It also made me consider further graduate work, so I would have a more rigorous theoretical framework on which to hang my business decisions.  But could I do it?

Three weeks last summer was a long time away from family and work.  A graduate diploma – in addition to having a more formal academic screening process (yikes! I should have studied more in my undergraduate years) – would entail almost twice the time away from home, as each of the four sessions would require flying from Vancouver to London at least a few days early to adjust to the time change.  It would also be more expensive – a lot more expensive – than pursuing a similar course locally.  Excellence, however, takes both time and effort, and with a supportive family and team at work, I applied (with fingers crossed on my marks) and was accepted.

Now, with the first of four modules under my belt, the course has exceeded expectations: the class is engaged, experienced and diverse, with about half coming from overseas; the classes are well taught by engaging faculty; the administration is top notch, which smooths any small issues that inevitably pop up; and the location is unparalleled.  We were assigned lots of reading – both cases and academic studies – prior to arrival, and with the pre-reading done we had each evening free for either an organised class dinner (including one at historic Rhodes House) or activity (a tour of Oxford, including Oriel College’s rowing facilities, with drinks in Oriel College’s pub) or dinner and drinks on our own.

Oriel is our graduate college, and I anticipate more evenings spent with friends in the dining hall and pub.  Oxford has no shortage of pubs, many of which date back to the university’s foundation, and which therefore have low ceilings (easy to see on the way in, but sometimes a challenge on exit).  It’s a special treat to relax in the same watering holes as JRR Tolkien, Lewis Caroll, and CS Lewis had done decades earlier.

So far, the Diploma in Strategy and Innovation has been unparalleled combination of excellent facilities, top-notch faculty, and networking, all in Oxford’s historic setting.  The next module will begin with a formal exam (including the traditional gown and historic examination hall) on the first session’s material, and then straight back to the lecture hall for session two!  I can hardly wait.

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