Mark Le Page


Diploma in Financial Strategy


United Kingdom





By Mark Le Page

Three modules over

Three modules over – where has the time gone? And what have I learnt?

The first answer? All too quickly. The second? Not a quick job to summarise, but let me try.

I joined the Diploma in Financial Strategy to receive an academic depth to my professional studies over the last twenty years. I have not been disappointed with the quality of lecturing and classmates. The first module, strategy, was enlivened by the insistence of application to the workplace. As a result I have, with the full support of the director, reshaped the divisional strategy. The second module, business finance, was more home ground for me, an accountant by trade, yet I was delighted that some 30 to 40 per cent of the course contained the academic slant to which I had received little previous exposure. The third module was a mere exercise in sitting back and absorbing the experience of a top practitioner of M&A.

On day one, Howard Jones informed us that Oxonian students study hard but play hard too. We would, he promised, be shown what a good time is. That promise seemed one too far. What more could an x year-old know about that? Well, the answer was in the blend of good food and heritage, by casually walking into pubs and seeing pictures of Tolkien and Lewis, or notations recording other events of renown or infamy. The promise also fulfilled in dining in colleges, most recently Balliol, under the watchful eyes of regal Macmillan and erudite Asquith; also, to my surprise, in reprising, for the benefit of classmates, schoolboy Latin in the utterance of a prayer of thankfulness.

In a year of many highlights, I suspect one of my most cherished will be the visit to the Oxford Union. It was too much for me to resist sitting at Gladstone’s Cabinet table. I would like to write that I imagined Robert Lowe facing up to the piercing stare of someone who would have known his brief better than him. I must confess I just sat there relishing the moment. I suspect the Grand Old Man would have disapproved.

One month away from Module Four, despite the prospect of one more exam, I approach it with anticipation. Again on home ground, I can only imagine what further academic insights will come.

So what have I learnt? I came for the academic depth: I have also valued the impartation of practical wisdom. I came to study: I have also made lifelong friends and colleagues. I came not thinking I had any more to learn about what a good time was: I have, however, taught classmates that, when watching a European quarter final penalty shoot-out, one establishes which country tends to frequent that bar…but that’s another story.

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