James Green


Diploma in Organisational Leadership


South Korea





By James Green

The First Steps

After I volunteered to write a blog about my experiences at the Saïd Business School, I thought “what the hell have you done”, which unsurprisingly was exactly the same thought that I had when I completed the enrolment process for the Diploma in Organisational Leadership.

I intend to write a series of blog posts tracking me through my journey at Oxford and the Saïd Business School. I emphasise intend because sometimes life gets in the way of plans and if it becomes the choice of a blog post or studying for an exam, it will be a really an easy decision.  I am also publishing these blog posts on my own blog, so if I manage to prick your curiosity please visit my alter ego, the tubby traveller (

The first step to Oxford was the conclusion I am at a point in my career that now is the time that I needed to do something to give me a step forward and fill in some gaps in my knowledge.  I also had to find a course that could be fitted in with my life, my family’s life and work.  These constraints meant that I could not commit to do a full time EMBA program.  The other thing that I am acutely aware of is that branding is very, very important and everyone consciously or subconsciously tends toward the better and more recognisable brands.  If I was going to commit to the effort that I perceive that it will require to do well in later life study I wanted the pay back, this meant that I only considered the top ranked schools.  I was in the process of reviewing the offerings from the top schools when a friend of mine said “Mate what you need to do is a Grad Dip from the Saïd  Business School” so I looked at them in detail.  They are a great fit for me, four modules with a short residential session for each, 3 exams, an assignment and a project all with constrained timelines so I don’t get complacent or lazy. Of the Graduate Diplomas offered two stood out, Organisational Leadership and Global Business.

Both of the Diplomas suited my experience and ambition,  according to the Saïd Business School’s website the Global Business one focuses on  “global strategy, risk and reputation, corporate diplomacy and international business challenges” and the Organisational Leadership one focused on  “building a deeper understanding of how to manage people and organisations for competitive advantage“. After reading all the online information and considering what my ambitions were I felt that the Organisational Leadership better filled me. Subsequently I approached the Saïd Business School and spoke to both Tom Brownrigg and Andy Poole, both were very helpful. We went through my history and experience and concluded that I should be a good candidate and encouraged me to apply.

The application process was simple enough, fill out a questionnaire, write some short statements as to why I wanted to do the course and submit my CV.  The most difficult part of the process was getting copies of my Academic record, no simple online application and credit card charge. It was a bit like the modern version of “Planes, Trains and Automobiles”, Internet, phone and post, slow frustration but we got there in the end. I started the application process in the Second week of October 16 and received my offer of a place on the course on the last week of November 16 (subject to me submitting the originals of my academic record which I duly did).  So I paid for the course and received the reading for the first module in January 2017.

During the discussions with the business school I had been told that for the duration of the course I would need to commit about an hour a day to doing the pre-reading, study and assignments. So like a good studious little student I sat down and started reading and doing the case studies. Holy cow some of the papers were particularly boring, 50 pages could have been summarised to two or three with a couple of nice graphics, those ones took a lot of reading.  That aside the Harvard Business Review articles were easy to read and to the point and the case studies were fascinating.

Having done the requisite pre-reading I set off to Oxford for the first on-campus session, I was more than a little nervous, firstly I hadn’t done any real University level studies for over 25 years and I had never, never ever done studies any of the Soft subjects at university, secondly some of the reading was very dry and academic and I was worried that the course would be like these readings. However I did console myself that it could not be too difficult to pass at Oxford, after all my Uncle and Grandfather had managed it, in fact my grandfather had managed a half blue and a double first (  ) while playing up like a second hand lawnmower.

Next: my first on-campus session “Oxford the land of Pixies, Elves, Harry Potter and a Korean Restaurant”

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