J.R. Starch


Diploma in Financial Strategy


United States





By J.R. Starch

Sky High

In the past decade of my career, it has become apparent to me the areas in which my current skills have not been meeting my current challenges.  As a current C-Level executive and former military aviator, I come from a disciplined culture that always seeks self-improvement.  So, finding a program worth the time, expense, and personal effort presented a formidable hurdle.  Fortunately for me, the answer was very clear.

In some ways, attending the University of Oxford has a been a 20-year dream in the making.  Having become entirely disenchanted with the decline in the American education system – particularly the Ivy League schools, Oxford stands a world apart.  Its rich traditions, cultural heritage, and standards of excellence appealed to me primarily because it is a still a place of great mutual respect and academic freedom.  At Oxford, you read for a degree or a diploma.  You are a Reader, and that keeps the attention of effort in the right place – the student.  And my experience has proven thus far to be exactly what I expected.  I am walking in the footsteps of so many who have shaped history:  Thatcher, Tolkien, Lewis, Wycliffe, Hubble, Lawrence, Gibbon, Locke, Penn, Raleigh, Tyndale.

I choose the Diploma in Financial Strategy at Oxford for two reasons.  First, it has been my weakest area over time in terms of corporate management.  Second, I wanted to be able to study in an environment of the highest caliber individuals in industry – both professors and classmates.  The programme has met my every expectation thus far.  The professors are world-renowned, and my cohort is diverse in experience, culture, and perspective – both providing me a wide range of opportunities to learn, in and beyond the classroom.  And learn from them I have!  I think one of the greatest strengths of Saïd Business School is the diversity of thought that is developed and encouraged in the classroom by the professors.  It is accomplished by the presentation of material and theoretical concepts followed by small-group discussion in the contexts of each teammate’s own experience.  Our class covers media, oil and gas, technology, banking, investments, entrepreneurial ventures, and many other industries.  Seeing the application of learned principles across other businesses has provided me a much wider framework for exploration and innovation for my own business.

What’s more, the staff has taken great care of us as students, ensuring nothing stands in the way of our success in the classroom as well as providing us ample opportunities to experience Oxford life.  That has rarely happened in my previous experiences.  At Oxford, we have been shuttled to dinners at the various Colleges, traversed the city via foot and guide, and greeted at numerous receptions within the Oxford community.  All of these events have provided time for the Cohort to bond with the professors, staff, and each other.  And that has been invaluable for me.

There is much more to share in the coming weeks and months of study, but I wanted to share my initial thoughts of studying for the Diploma at the #1 university in the world.

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