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Stefan Fijko

Degree:

Diploma in Strategy and Innovation

Location:

Czech Republic

Industry:

Food & Beverage

Year:

2019

By Stefan Fijko

Have I found what I was looking for at Oxford?

Living in the digital world is a great opportunity. We can click to like and click to share. But the great opportunity is that we can express our thoughts and directly influence how we are perceived.

Our program manager proposed that I write a blog. I did not hesitate. I admire writing. I learn writing. I am a student; it is time for my blog prototype, I told myself.

Writing can feel painful, but it is incredibly rewarding
 –Oscar Wild

For almost two decades I have been a leader in a successful company with more than 150 people. I am responsible for welfare — both company and employees. But the world is dramatically changing. How can I be sure I can keep up with the pace of change? How can I be sure that without wasting the time and money of others, I am still able to formulate strategies for tomorrow? Is my experience the proof of my abilities, or is it my limitation?

In high uncertainty conditions, you need to plan to learn not to plan to prove you are right…
-Rita McGrath

I chose to plan my learning; I found an extraordinary opportunity with the expectation to learn something about the management of the future, I applied to study Strategy and Innovation at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. A few months later, after my application submission, the best university in the world selected me to join their program. That was a great moment! With pride and enthusiasm, I decided to invest family time and family money into my education.

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool
-William Shakespeare

From the first day I entered the lecture theatre (our classroom) I was in the company of clever people from every corner of the world. Program director Professor Teppo Fellin used to say we are “the best cohort ever”. It is the marketing I think, but the truth is my colleagues are great. I am an experienced man, quite dominant at “home”, but in the Oxford classroom, I often feel stupid. It is a great moment I convince myself. The first thing I notice in school is that the University of Oxford supplies me with mixed emotions,  reflection,  feelings I often missed!

Networking is not an exclusive skill for extroverts.
Alexis Maragni, Linkedin

I come from Czechoslovakia; Eastern Europeans are shy people (especially abroad). The exception is Vlad, my Romanian school mate. Easterners do not like to be visible; we prefer to be quiet and follow. I think it is a trait leftover from communism (communists made and still make people scared and silent…). I lived through that time, and I think the ideology is still in our DNA. Visibility, discussion, interactions are the key aspects of my study.  Broadcasting from “the best company ever”  I found it difficult, but important to provide me with confidence. This confidence is critical for successful networking, the best of all innovators.

By teaching managers to look through the lens of theory into the future, you can see the future.
-Clayton Christensen

The University of Google overloads me with information. I realised after I came to Oxford, that technology always supplied me with tons of information but not with wisdom. It is like when sitting at a bar. You can buy and enjoy five different single shots, but if you meet a good barman, you can enjoy five drinks mixed into an excellent cocktail. The professors I meet at Oxford supply me with great theories blended into fascinating wisdom.  My first concern was whether today “in the world standing on the brim of the fourth industrial revolution” I am still able to lead into the future. I am confident today that the right theories are avenues to get there.

The map is not the territory.
-Lewis Carroll

Healthy confidence, social capital, theories blended into fascinating wisdom are all basic ingredients to create the future, but now I know that in the end, it is all about the ability to narrate our story to inspire others. The title of my blog, my question at the beginning was, have I found what I was looking for at Oxford? I expected to come to Oxford to study, but my time at Oxford was more than just learning and exams. The real-world is not the Oxford world. The Real-World is imperfect. It is full of, crisis, blind confidence and stupidity. Our great professor Mark Ventresca said, “you are not here for marks; you are here to get stronger.” Mark’s words empower me when reality gets in the way and remind me of what is the most important lesson I have learned at the best school in the world.

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