Salla Kelorita


Diploma in Strategy and Innovation




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By Salla Kelorita

Oxford calling

I graduated from Helsinki School of Economics with a Master’s degree almost ten years ago. When still living in Finland I considered postgraduate studies but at that time the MBA studies didn’t appeal to me and a PhD seemed too academic route for my career aspirations. When I relocated to the UK for work some years ago I parked the idea of studying for a long time, except for the leadership programme my employer offers. It wasn’t until this summer I started to consider studying again to boost my growing hunger for personal development and aiming higher in the career ladder.

I looked into various reputable universities and business schools in the UK but it was more for research purposes; in my mind Oxford was always the place where I wanted to be. It’s a wonderful city and one of my favourite places in the world, not to mention the prestigious reputation and aura of the university. Within couple of days the plan was ready. I decided studying in University of Oxford and Saïd Business School was my dream and what I wanted to go for. The Diploma programmes were the perfect fit allowing me to continue working full time. Diploma in Strategy and Innovation was the first one to catch my eye and after reading the material online and the brochure my goal was clear. I began drafting my application. However, at some point self-doubt got in my way and delayed getting started full speed. In my mind I was so concerned about writing the perfect essays that it was difficult to even start.

Then, few weeks later I received a call from Natalie, the programme advisor. After spending an hour on the phone asking questions and sharing my story I finally sat down to plan the essays and who I could ask to write references. Selecting the two referees wasn’t difficult for me in the end. They both work for the same company as me and are individuals I consider my mentors, I’ve learned a great deal from them.

I also participated the introductory event in London and had the chance to meet Natalie and of course many other potential candidates considering the Saïd Business School programmes. We all represented different industries and backgrounds but it was obvious we shared the passion to study in Oxford. The event provided excellent information and it was wonderful to meet alumni and current students – all very driven and clearly happy with their choice of university. My manager was luckily able to join me and he seemed equally impressed. Seeing what I was up against and finding out the Strategy and Innovation programme is one the most popular Diploma programmes only fed my appetite and enthusiasm. I was roaring and ready to take on the challenge.

Natalie kindly offered me a tour around the school and couple of weeks later I met her in Oxford. Seeing the library, class rooms and all other facilities confirmed the choice I had already made, I even found myself saying to Natalie that I belonged there. During the following few weeks I wrote and rewrote my essays about personal motivations and achievements along with a letter requesting a waiver from the English language test. For me it was challenging to find the angle and tone I wanted to the essays, the application process itself and the online portal were very clear and well structured.

After submitting my application it only took a few days until the admissions team confirmed receiving it. Waiting for results seemed to take a life time regardless of my fast approaching house move. I started to prepare myself for the worst and boosted myself with more decisiveness to apply again if I wasn’t selected.

Then some weeks later, on the day I was moving house, I received the most wonderful email – I was in! I called family and friends and Natalie as well, that’s how excited I was. Funnily enough even after receiving the acceptance message, whilst I was waiting for the contract package to arrive, I found myself wondering if there had been a mistake: what if I wasn’t accepted after all? The papers came soon though and posting the signed documents was another day to remember; I really am starting postgraduate studies in the University of Oxford!

Even though I applied rather late in the year, in August, the autumn has felt long as I cannot wait to get the pre-assignments and reading material. Finland is famous for its praised educational system and I’m very proud of my alma mater. Still, having applied and been selected to study in one of the most prestigious universities in the world is an amazing feeling. I’m looking forward to meeting my new fellow students, professors and lecturers and everything else the whole year in Oxford has to offer.

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