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Vlad Sarca

Degree:

Diploma in Strategy and Innovation

Location:

Romania

Industry:

Investment Management

Year:

2019

By Vlad Sarca

At Oxford with Superheroes

Aristotle said that courage is the virtue that enables all other virtues, and as an entrepreneur, it is important to show a lot of courage but to balance it with temperance.

At the age of 24, I incorporated my first business, EGV Recruitment, which was active in medical recruitment. We expanded it internationally after one year and in 5 years we were present in 14 European countries on account of the synergies we created.

During this time, I had a clear strategy – to recruit only physicians and expand the business to as many countries as possible. We were focused on delivering a single product on several markets and on executing on that proposition impeccably. This focused approach helped us allocate resources effectively, gain market share and develop the business with lightning speed. Our year on year growth was 700% from the second year onward until year five.

In 2018, I sold my recruitment business. I didn’t feel challenged anymore and so I became a Business Angel in order to support other entrepreneurs to develop their business internationally, just like I did, years before.

During this time, one of my main goals was to educate myself so I could be equipped to face these new challenges. I am of the opinion that an entrepreneurial business will grow proportionally to the skill and expertise of its leaders. In today’s world, you can have a great attitude and endless ambition, but it will serve you greatly to add an excellent education to those qualities.

My knowledge greatly increased by reading authors like Michael Porter and Clayton Christensen and attending courses in the field of Strategic Management and also other fields. When market circumstances started to change, I managed to adapt our strategy and thrive while others went out of business. This gave me confidence and gratitude toward my newfound teachers and I realized how important it was to keep myself updated.

It was crucial for me to get access to the best education so I closely analyzed the offerings at the best universities in Europe to find the programs that were most suited to my interests. The PG Diploma in Strategy and Innovation appealed to me because of my passion for the field of strategy and also given my interest in innovation. Existing markets face huge disruptions by innovation and I feel that understanding its effects as well as possible will offer an incredible edge to both investors and entrepreneurs.

What struck me about being part of the Strategy programme is the striking diversity of participants. When I started to find out details about my colleagues, it felt like I was in the Marvel movie “The Avengers”, interacting with 50 superheroes coming from 26 different countries. They have very diverse superpowers, according to  their backgrounds ranging from big consulting firms to finance, real estate, oil and gas, IT, retail, media, telecommunications. Some even come from smart government agencies that have understood the importance of excellent education. Even if we come from very diverse backgrounds, we are united by curiosity, ambition, and humility.(The recruitment team did a great job putting us together. – Thank you very much Joe and all of you who made this possible!)

The teaching method relies heavily on the experience of the group. It sometimes feels like our professors are great conductors, who are playing the equivalent of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony by facilitating the best every student has to offer and bringing concepts together in an overarching harmony.

We have learned mainly from study cases narrating about some of the best companies in history. From Aldi to Disney and Alibaba to Ducati, all are very different but one thing is common, a great strategy that helped them create a sustainable competitive advantage over years.

During the first four days of the course, we had a challenging and extremely inspiring learning experience. Business can often seem transactional and overly materialistic, but given that the motto of the University is “Dominus illuminatio mea“ or “The Lord is my light”, there is constantly an emphasis on philosophical and moral matters as well. Benefiting from a great education can inspire us to live a life of contribution and enable us to give back to society. In the end, we are in an advantaged position to make the world a better place for our children.

Can we live a fulfilled life without leaving behind a better world?

George F.R. Ellis was one of our guest speakers. For those of you that don’t know him yet, it would be interesting to find out among others that he is the emeritus distinguished professor of complex system in the Department of Mathematics and applied mathematics and a leading figure in the field of Cosmology (The study of the history and large-scale structure of the universe).

He challenged us in different ways, and I think that some of us would have stayed to listen to him for the whole day and night if we would have had the necessary time and space at our disposal.

I would like to mention just one quote that caught my attention and which summarizes Mr. Ellis efforts to raise our awareness.

“This is in the end, is the one and only question that will remain: WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH YOUR LIFE?” – Martin Luther King

Mark Wrathall invited us to Corpus Christi College, where he is a Professor of Philosophy, Fellow and Tutor. The lecture he gave us on Time, was world class and it made me reflect deeply. He quoted Petrarch’s – Triumph of time and introduced to us Occasio(opportunity) the female version of Kairos (time).

Occasio was revered by Niccolo Machiavelli in his poems for her “sparse and rare” presence and her lightning fast disappearance.
Mark Wrathall described Frans Francken II painting “Allegory of Occasio”, where “Opportunity” is always looking to bless a lucky soul but everybody is just too busy.

Are we sometimes too busy to receive the blessings of life?

After our lectures, we went out for dinner and drinks. We found people with similar interests and we also started to discuss about our private lives and aspirations. We planned to meet in our home towns and some of us already met in London or promised to meet in Shanghai or Sydney. We also talked about possible synergies among our businesses or similar business interests.

I managed to meet also some fellow Romanians who are Oxford Alumni and organize a summer camp for gifted high school pupils called Oxford for Romania. Every year, they come to Oxford to incubate a social project that they can implement in their home town. I was very happy to find out about this and made a commitment to support them.

As you can read and see from the pictures, we had a complete experience at Oxford during the first module in Strategy and I can’t wait to meet my colleagues again during the next module : “Avengers” – Innovation Strategy@Said Business School.

I feel blessed to have made Oxford a part of my history. Thank you all!

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