Robert Liam Barry


Diploma in Global Business


United Kingdom



By Robert Liam Barry

The Pursuit of Excellence

A noticeable sense of nervous anticipation spread throughout the lecture theatre of Saïd Business School, like osmosis on a cold January morning.

With forty-seven highly experienced professionals gathered from the far corners of twenty-eight differing countries, each eager to debunk the complexities of emerging markets and evolve their understanding of business at a global level, whilst awaiting the first words to be uttered by our illustrious programme leader Mari Sako.


Diploma in Global Business 2019 class

It was at the precise fraction of time, as my eyes glanced around at my new classmates, a stark sense of déjà vu descended upon me… This exact sensation had entered my body almost exactly one year before in January 2018, whilst once again, surrounded by ‘captains of industry’ to receive invaluable insights from thought leaders, sector experts and world renowned lecturers to collectively bestow first-hand business expertise daily at the London Business School. As a thirty-nine year old English born entrepreneur – the weighing up of pros and cons to either invest in oneself vis-à-vis the reallocation of hefty programme bound fees, which could (instead) cater to cover the costs of working capital for the expansion of my fledgling business had once again weighed heavy on my mind.

Robert Liam Barry Diploma in Global Business alumn

Prior to the acceptance of my place on this highly reputable Global Business Diploma Programme – I would certainly NOT have been able to recite the name of a single college, let alone quote all thirty-eight, and I must confess to knowing the barest of information about either Oxford as a town or iconic university.

Unbeknown to me, whilst it has not only been responsible for the moulding Nobel Prize winners, but it had moreover fostered an impressive twenty-nine prime ministers to date. Consequently, it was the pure exhilaration of stepping back in time to the year 1571 with our cohort of 2019 being linked to Jesus College, which was founded by none other than Queen Elizabeth herself. With the painting of said majesty overhanging its main dining hall, which set the tone for collaborative learning and inspiring surroundings.

I was drawn by the lure of engaging with faculty members including Marc Szepan and Eric Thun, alongside this programme’s part-time nature. With the prospect of both enhancing my capability of developing global growth strategies and risk management know-how proved enticing enough to justify ‘pressing-send’ for the online 2019 application form.

The programme itself is nicely balanced with a blend of key-note speakers, relevant case-study material, lecture hours well-structured to entice maximum progression from its students. It is split into four elements to focus upon (i) global strategy, (ii) risk and reputation, (iii) corporate diplomacy and (iv) emerging markets, which were taught in interactive fashion that helped push our cohort to become fundamentally better educated.

Meanwhile, outside of the classroom studies, regular business centric conversations continued in good spirits and with the upmost of respectfulness, which helped to ensure that everyone could work freely and without fear of judgement. Fast forward to today’s date [as I write this blog as an Alumni of Jesus College], the transformation in my business network and self-confidence has proved monumental.

I could elaborate with passionate anecdotes linked to:

i. post exam adrenalin fuelled studying, late into the evening visits to the Bodleian library
ii. the excellent teaching practices
iii. wax lyrically about the assimilation of new business frameworks
iv. detail key take-aways from case-studies
v. recall a plethora of debates both inside and out of the classroom
vi. fun memories acquired including punting down the river Cherwell
vii. candle lit black-tie dinners at a variety of Oxford colleges / or,
viii. flashbacks of dancing into the early hours while still dressed in traditional Latin sub fusc attire post examination

Diploma in Global Business 2019 Cohort

Nevertheless, I feel that the best summation of my overall experience at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford; is not to focus upon the above, but instead recount the final few hours of the last evening of Module 4.

It began with a few WhatsApp messages and within an hour – every single one of our fellows had squeezed into an innocuous restaurant located a stone throw away from the Oxford Union. Whereupon, each student, then took their turn to stand up to describe in candid fashion their own respective personal journey at the same time fighting back tears, smiles and standing ovations delivered in that given order.

As individuals, we (typically) seek to circumnavigate the sensations of stress, however, it became clear to me that this highly gifted group has chosen to not only increase their daily levels of cognitive dissonance, has in fact opted to defy the plateauing of their self-improvement to join this Programme.

Diploma in Global Business 2019 studentsThis was a singularly magical moment, which acted as a watermark for us all to illustrate just how far we had come as a group, but it also reflected something greater – I had acquired a new extended “family”; united not by common language, but in the shared pursuit of Excellence, which as Pat Riley cited as “…. always striving to do better”.

By no stretch of the imagination would I have ever formerly considered myself to being remotely close to an “academic”, but with ever increasing geopolitical tensions and growing concerns for the impact of AI upon our next generation’s future – I am uplifted to know that Said Business School remains true to its core to challenge the world of business for a greater good.
Beyond anything else, it left me with the distinct feeling of being truly honoured to have shared my year with the DipGB Class of 2019.


Robert Liam Barry Diploma in Global Business alumn

Diploma in Global Business 2019 students at dinner

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