John Hadfield


Diploma in Financial Strategy


United Kingdom





By John Hadfield

Let’s go!

I’ve just returned from an intensive week in Oxford participating in the first module of the Diploma in Financial Strategy. First, a little bit about me. I have 12 years experience in the oil & gas industry and I’m currently Vice President – Finance for our Europe business based in Aberdeen. En-route to Scotland, I’ve worked in various line Finance roles in the industry, including some warmer spells in Egypt and Australia. I originally began my career at PricewaterhouseCoopers in London. I was attracted to the Diploma as I hoped it would provide some practical tools and insights to help with strategy formulation, investing and valuation.

So how did I find the first week? In a word… Great! I loved every minute. And that was the general feedback of the class, which was a diverse bunch to say the least. My cohort included people with a wide range of experience, from the World Bank to Wall Street; from Consulting to Industry; and from East to West. The experience in the room was what made the programme. The Oxford lecturers were fantastic – clearly passionate about their material and it was well presented. But they also encouraged class debate, and as a result everyone learned from each other’s real-world experience. The dialogue in the room helped the class to bond quickly and many friendships were made in a short space of time.

However, it should be said that the diploma is not a soft option. The Academic Director told us at the start that this was the toughest course they run at the Business School. The first module is condensed into four long days in Oxford and people have taken time out of their day jobs to fly in from all over the world to take part. The maths lecture was an eye opener – it went from rudimentary to advanced in 60 minutes! There is a lot of pre-reading and exam preparation required alongside existing work commitments. So I think those new class connections will be needed to help each other to get through the course.

Alongside delivering the lectures, Said Business School went to great lengths to make us feel part of the Oxford community. For example, students have associate membership of St Hugh’s College and were invited to dinner there. The evening was hosted by the Principal, Dame Elish Anglioni, who made an inspirational speech about the success of people who have previously studied at Oxford. This was humbling but uplifting and I greatly appreciated the inclusive attitude of the University.

Overall, it was an intensive but highly stimulating week at Oxford. I have returned to work feeling inspired, full of ideas and compelled to look at my organisation in a new light. I’m now looking forward to putting what I have learned into practice.

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