Renu Menon


Diploma in Strategy and Innovation


United Kingdom





By Renu Menon

My first Oxford experience

So, when you dish out a big wad of your own cash to further your education 15 years into your career, you expect big things. And if that wad of cash goes to the world’s #1 university, then those expectations are sky high.

At the end of my first module, boy were those expectations met!

As part of the postgraduate Diploma in Strategy and Innovation at Saïd Business School cohort of 2017, I came back after the first module with a sensation of being part of something big. Two things which Oxford is famous for are history and academic excellence.

From your first orientation to the moment you leave, the fact that you are now part of a 800 year old tradition is drummed into you. The “feel” of walking around Oxford, the fact that all the professors and staff seem to be in love with the place and are proud to be associated with it – a fact they wear on their sleeve, the lectures at the world’s first university museum (Ashmolean), the formal drinks and dinner do’s at colleges which are centuries old, the quaint examination norms (which I will not elaborate on as I don’t want to dampen the thrill for the next lot), the fact that as a part of Oxford you now have access to the Bod’s 12 million odd reference items and most importantly the extremely inefficient and confusing IT systems – all of it does take you back in time and allow you to be part of history – not as a tourist but as someone who is now an integral part of this history. Believe me, it’s an amazing feeling.

Then there is the cohort – a group of 65 odd brilliant minds. It is the most unbelievable experience to be in the same room for around 6 -7 hours for 4 days with a motley crew of CFO’s, CEO’s, professors, university deans, entrepreneurs and even bureaucrats. The exchange of thoughts and ideas is so enriching that one struggles to absorb it all in such a short duration. The conversations over lunch, dinner and myriad breaks can each expose you to a range of topics and ideas that will always find a way to be useful to you. One would think that all these busy folks will get back to work and reconnect for the next module. But surprisingly the team gelled very well and thanks to modern technology (whatsapp, linkedin and whatnot) have been actively trying to share knowledge, experience and even making a difference to individual’s lives. Feels privileged to be part of this group.

Unlike a bunch of management and leadership sessions one ends up taking over a period of a decade and a half, this course has the effect of rubbing off in a way that one actually starts trying to analyse the situation in one’s current organization in light of the readings and learnings to see what one can do to influence or change the situation. This is the best testament that a syllabus actually is making an impact.

Prepping for module 1 exams and module 2 exams are taking me back around 15 years and giving me the heebie jeebies. So bye for now and more in a bit…


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