International Women’s Day: MBA’s reflect

At Oxford Saïd, we’re committed to empowering the world’s brightest minds, helping each student to develop and reach their full potential as a future leader so they can implement meaningful change from within their organisation.

Reflecting this philosophy, the School invests in a wide range of initiatives to help create a thriving community of female leaders; these include hosting Power Shift, an annual symposium dedicated to women’s economic inclusion, offering numerous scholarships, and offering access to networks such as the student-led Women in Business OBN and iwill (which promotes women’s professional and academic development).

To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked a number of our female MBAs about their careers to date, their time at Oxford and what they’d like to achieve in the future.

Kate Jarvis, Australia, Co-Chair Oxford Business Network for Women’s Leadership

Prior to her MBA Kate worked as an analyst for Louis Dreyfus Commodities in Australia, Switzerland and Singapore.

What has been your stand-out Oxford moment to date?

I have had many wonderful moments as a Peer Supporter, when classmates have told me that talking to me has made a big difference to them.

Apart from this, I was on a high for days after attending the Power Shift conference on women’s economic empowerment in November! It was incredible to be part of such a supportive group of people who share a common vision of a more equal society.

What will your MBA help you achieve?

I know that my biggest achievements are yet to come! I want to lead cultural change in some way, whether it’s changing the way that people within an organisation consider diversity, or helping women in developing countries achieve economic empowerment through business.

Who is your role model?

My good friend, Chloe Chick, constantly inspires me with the amazing work she does with SisuGirls. Her organisation aims to foster a sense of determination, bravery and resilience in girls, and Chloe is a tireless campaigner for changing the social norms that prevent girls and women from pursuing their dreams.

Justine Gamez, USA / Philippines, MBA Advisory Board — Class Representative

Justine is an award-winning publicist who has worked on dozens of global campaigns for Warner Bros.

What does it mean to you to be studying for an MBA at Oxford?

There is a prominent theme at Oxford Saïd, and throughout the wider University, that we are surrounded by the next generation of global leaders. Every day in Oxford, one is inspired to step up to the challenge to be that future leader — walking through the colleges you are surrounded with portraits of politicians, scientists, economists, etc. whose leadership journey involved Oxford, participating in debates at the Oxford Union where history and public opinion have been shaped, conversing with classmates who have already established themselves as impressive leaders in their respective industries… Inspiration is everywhere. Last night, we had a lecture called “Global Rules of the Game,” wherein we discussed the geopolitical implications of businesses as it relates to globalization. One of the speakers was Michael Warren, Managing Principal at Albright Stonebridge Group and Oxford alum, teaching us key frameworks and sharing practical insight. He said, “The next global leaders will come from this cohort. You’ll be CEOs, presidents of countries, non-profit heads.” As I looked around at my classmates, I smiled because I believe this to be true. It is a great honour to be learning at Oxford, and it means a great deal to me to be studying for my MBA here.

Why did you choose Oxford Saïd?

A global learning experience was key to my decision, not only in the classroom, but also outside of the classroom. Internationalisation of businesses are increasing at rapid rates, and there is always an opportunity to learn within this changing environment. My MBA classmates come from 54 different nationalities. When I chose Oxford Saïd, I expected to be surrounded with a diverse group of nationalities, but now that I have been in the programme for six months, what is the real value of this? We are learning from each other, just as much as we are learning in the classroom. I am learning about the debt crisis from my Greek classmates, the devaluation of the dollar to the rand and the ramifications from South African peers, opinions of Brexit from UK classmates, business implications of the refugee crisis from colleagues throughout Europe, including Syria, Libya, Germany, among other countries… The international exposure at Oxford is endless. As a cohort, we have been brought together with the intent to tackle these world-scale challenges.

What will your MBA help you achieve?

As a female working in a global corporation for the past eight years, I recognised the challenges one must face when it comes to professional advancement. The MBA will equip me with the necessary toolkit for career progression. I rarely walk into a meeting unprepared without thorough knowledge of the topic at hand. My MBA is an element of preparation for success in the business world. The intent is to be a well-rounded professional with broader, business management acumen in all areas vital to a corporation’s strategy. Oxford Saïd fulfils this quest, but the value of a year in Oxford goes further than career achievement. I will use this MBA to achieve not only professional growth, but also personal growth. My classmates, especially those strong, incredibly bright and motivated female peers, who surround me at Oxford, are key to influencing my personal development, to whom I am thankful for on this International Women’s Day!

Alexia Doyamis, USA / Greece, Co-Chair Oxford Business Network for Women’s Leadership

After studying Political Science and European Studies at New York University, Alexia spent five years working at Deutsche Bank as a Client Analyst.

Why did you choose Oxford Saïd?

I chose Oxford because I wanted an MBA experience that was more than just Finance. Oxford Said, and the wider Oxford University network, offer unique opportunities that I wasn’t finding in other programmes, and I wanted to use this time explore as many avenues as possible.

What has been your stand-out Oxford moment to date?

We do so many amazing things here it’s pretty hard to pick just one. I once signed up for a competition in an area I had no experience in just for the sake of learning, and when my team failed miserably we wallowed in our disappointment by devouring a huge chocolate cake — it was wonderful! When am I going have these opportunities for these types of experiences again?

Who is your role model?

I try not to model myself after others, but I AM constantly inspired! My two biggest inspirations at the moment are Madeleine Albright and Anne-Marie Slaughter. Both of these intelligent women are respected leaders in their fields, but most importantly, at the end of the day they tell it as it is…

“There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” — M. Albright

“Women can’t have it all.” — A. Slaughter

Geetanjali Kaur, India

Prior to her MBA, Geet worked with SAP Labs India on enterprise solutions for Indian indirect taxes.

What does it mean to you to be studying for an MBA at Oxford?

I feel honoured and privileged to be among the best and brightest minds — learning not just about developing business skills from the best faculty and classmates but also about opportunities and global issues that we as future leaders need to focus our attention to. There is no dearth of ideas and people passionate about wanting to make an impact to the ecosystem around them, the MBA at Oxford gives access to immense resources and opportunities to try out things and encourages us to turn ideas into reality. There is something new and challenging to learn each day; the MBA at Oxford is truly a transformative experience.

What has been your stand-out Oxford moment to date?

My brother and I matriculated on the same day, and it was wonderful to have both my parents here for the ceremony. That day my father shared with us how he had applied to pursue his PhD at Oxford, but could not afford to pay for his fees and travel to England back then as he had to support his family. From that time to the day of watching both his children take an oath of induction to the University, it’s been an emotional journey for him. For me personally, that moment with my proud father at front of the Sheldonian Theatre was surreal and closest to my heart.

Hangwani Muambadzi, South Africa, Co-Chair Oxford Business Network for Africa

Hangwani has been a South African Ambassador at One Young World for the last four years, and has worked as an analyst for several financial institutions.

Why did you choose Oxford Saïd?

I like to think that it was the other way around, actually. Sometimes, you walk into a room, unsure of how you came to be at an Oxford event because you have no intention of being trapped in 800 years’ worth of bureaucracy… but the wine promised to be good and it was on your way home anyway. When someone mentions entrepreneurship, you look up, because 800 year old institutions aren’t supposed to know what that is, and most certainly not when it’s followed by ‘Africa’. So a seed is planted that literally sets your heart on fire and chubby little angels fall out of the sky singing in an off-key harmony that ‘this is it — this is the one’! Before you know it, you’ve packed up a bag and a box and have set sail for the other side of the pond, where the sun doesn’t shine and people think it’s socially acceptable to have endless conversations about this sun that refuses to shine. That’s okay though, because you tell yourself that the sun will shine in your heart. And it does. But it’s ‘Hell-ary’ term now; the sun doesn’t shine here anymore. Rumour has it set to rise again in T -4 weeks.

What has been your stand-out Oxford moment to date?

I walked out of a guest lecture once, reeling from a talk that had been given on the digital innovations of a global media firm that were at least 30 years ahead of today’s technology. I had glimpsed the future, and it was surreal. Ten minutes and less than a kilometre down the road later, I was in a centuries-old chapel, revelling in the foreign musical interpretation of a 1,000 year old Finnish poem. I had no clue what they were saying. And quite frankly, it didn’t matter. What had suddenly dawned on me, was that nowhere else in the world could I walk out of the future, cycle down the road, and find myself staggering a thousand years back in time. That — that single moment, was magic.

This post originally appeared here, as part of International Women’s Day 2016.