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Glenn McIsaac

Degree:

Diploma in Strategy and Innovation

Location:

Canada

Industry:

Commercial Services

Year:

2019

By Glenn McIsaac

7 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your Oxford Experience

At the time of writing this, my cohort is patiently awaiting the release of our final grades for the Diploma in Strategy and Innovation. Perhaps you’ve found yourself here reading these blog entries, as I did two years ago, hoping to better understand the school, the program, and the people. Or maybe, you’re a nostalgic Oxonian coming back to reminisce about your time at Oxford. If you’re lucky enough, you may even be an Aularian (of St. Edmund Hall) who was part of “the best cohort ever”, too. Oxford is a magical place filled with hidden treasures, history (some of it, prehistoric), and incredible people. While I could have probably guessed all of that before my first day of class, I could barely anticipate that my peers would be among the best and most impactful part of the journey.

Exploring St. Edmund Hall

My cohort included 62 participants representing 33 nationalities with an incredible cross-section of industries and functional backgrounds. Now, close your eyes and imagine with me for a second what your own cohort might look like as you sit in one of the well-appointed lecture halls at Park End Street in Saïd Business School. You’re among a group of experienced global leaders with a shared sense of purpose and passion for learning… and thanks to the quality of people Oxford attracts, it’s also entirely possible that you’re no longer the smartest person in the room. Imagine the conversations you’ll have! That’s the reason why the Diploma in Strategy and Innovation at Said made sense to me and it’s exactly where you want to be if you’re looking for a valuable, rare, inimitable, and well organized educational experience… VRIO, for the uninitiated.

Oxford University Museum of Natural History

During your time at Oxford, 13 months and four jam-packed modules will fly by faster than you can possibly imagine and it’s up to you to make the most of it. While the school will provide you with a full itinerary which includes academic activities like readings, group work, and exams, they will also ensure that you get to experience the incredible depth and 1,000 year history that Oxford has to offer (THANK YOU Joe and Emma!). There are no shortage of surprises, and while I can’t promise that you’ll get to sit in a Formula 1 car cockpit in the middle of your lecture hall, I can say with complete confidence that your experience will be unforgettable.

Formula 1 car cockpit

In my experience, here’s how you can make the most of your time at Oxford:

  1. Read everything you’re assigned – required, optional, and even some of the references in those readings if you have time. You can never be prepared enough and every word you absorb makes the discussions more impactful.
  2. Dig deeper – read the notes, references, and indexes. How did the material you’re reading come to be and who else can you learn from? Are there other disciplines that overlap? If you find yourself going down a rabbit hole that doesn’t seem to make sense, see how far it goes… it could be good preparation for an enlightening lecture from one of the world’s leading thinkers in a subject like cosmology. If you’re ready, the dots will connect for you.
  3. Seek out greatness – learn outside of the lecture hall. Whatever you’re interested in there’s a good chance that you’re within walking distance of a global thought leader on that subject in Oxford. Read their published work then seek them out. You might find yourself having an enlightening or even life-changing conversation.Classmates dressed up
  4. Remember that you’re at Oxford – you’re surrounded by history, perhaps more than you’ve ever been in your entire life. You have a rare opportunity to see and participate in things that few people will ever have, so make the most of it. Plan to arrive early and stay late if you can. The Monday’s and Tuesday’s before each exam and Saturday nights following each module make up some of my fondest memories. You’ll deepen new friendships and make your experience richer and even more memorable.
  5. Make friends – as I mentioned earlier in this post and in my last point, you’re surrounded by like-minded people who are on a shared journey of learning. Get to know them, find ways to help them, and ask for their thoughts on something you need help with. Talk about the ideas that keep you up at night and learn about what your new friends are interested in. You have a valuable and judgement-free opportunity to collaborate with someone without professional bias.
  6. Stay connected – whether we’re talking about your cohort peers, the program professors, Saïd staff, or anyone else for that matter… make an effort. Our cohort used Slack and WhatsApp to share ideas, articles, and photos. It has also helped us stay connected, and collaborate before, during, and after each module. In fact, we’re all still in touch on these platforms to this day and some have even discussed opportunities to collaborate together in business.
  7. Go to Queen’s Lane – since you’ll be needing caffeine, you might as well check out the oldest established coffee house in Europe. Oxford’s best Turkish coffee since 1654.

Queen's Lane Coffee House

Oxford truly is an extraordinary place, full of brilliant people, and a staggering history that leaves you in awe at every turn. The opportunity to be a small part of that history is a privilege made even more incredible as you learn from today’s top scholars in strategy and innovation. Not only are the professors brilliant, but they’re wonderful people who shared in their time, knowledge, and excitement to learn.

While at Oxford, I had the good fortune to be elected by my peers to represent our cohort on official matters as one of two class representatives. It was an honor to serve our cohort and I hope that my co-rep, Osk, and I did our part to enhance their experience at Park End Street. Similarly, I hope that the suggestions I’ve outlined here will serve you in making the Oxford experience an invaluable part of your life’s story.

Class reps

Floreat Aula!

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