Michael Hompes


Diploma in Strategy and Innovation







By Michael Hompes

Grand Hall Dinners, Lectures and Participants

The plane is landing after a short flight from London Heathrow Airport to Schiphol (Amsterdam, The Netherlands). My head still buzzing with experiences of lectures, participant stories and grand hall diners of the previous 5 days. It was only a short bus ride to the world famous and second-oldest university in the world: Oxford. I have just completed the first module of four of the Postgraduate Diploma in Strategy & Innovation at Saïd Business School.

Grand Hall dinners
The University of Oxford dates back to 1096 (red. Bologna is just 8 years older). The image this academic ‘institution’ and town elicits meet its high expectation. Walking through the old centre of Oxford brings you back in time of grand British tradition. The Library has a hall with +500 year old books and the Ashmolean museum is the oldest public museum in the world. This tradition at Oxford is still reflected in the exams ceremony; every student has to wear a black suit, white bow tie and black mantel with academic cap to every exam. This relatively absurd ritual is every year questioned; but majority of Oxford students want to maintain this longstanding tradition. The University has 36 colleges of which the oldest date back to 1200-1300s and still have ‘Harry Potter’ like candle-lit grand hallways. During the modules we have dinner with the 68 lucky participants at these various colleges. The atmosphere was beyond my expectation!

The lectures at Saïd Business School provide a new academic perspective on Strategy (module 1) with room for discussion between participants of all various backgrounds and the specific Professor. As a Strategy Consultant myself the topic is quite familiar and we bring high added value to clients providing an overview of macro/industry, market and financial analyses and aligning that with the core capabilities of an organisation. Sometimes you simply need an ‘outside’ eye to see what has become a blind spot or you simply do not have the time because of business as usual. Strategy in this module is more focussed on the organization itself. The focus is more cross-discipline with attention for the way Strategy is communicated, psychological constructs underlying Strategy and the Strategy-led transformation necessary within the organization. This provides a new angle to Strategy – not excluding any other perspectives. Business cases formed the heart of the lectures and insights and interactions of the participants with all our various backgrounds ‘took centre stage’ with the Professor facilitating and adding where necessary. The openness of the participants to showcase their organizational challenges was truly inspiring!

The participants
This first module I have only spoken to about 1/3 of the fellow participants of the course; all have around 10 years working experience, high academic standing and come from everywhere in the world; corporates, entrepreneurs, academia, non-profit. On one day you could speak to a tech-entrepreneur from Silicon Valley. Then suddenly the conversation is with an Architect/Creative Designer/Producer or Business Unit manager at a multi-billion multinational corporation.
For me, the combination of Grand Hall diners, lectures and participants is what Oxford University is all about; this is the complete package you can expect. It is truly inspirational and provides new insights and perspectives!

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