Funding the future
Oxford Saïd benefits from the generosity of donors prepared to invest in academic excellence and the next generation of business leadership. Here we recognise those who have kindly provided scholarships and supported capital projects, diversity initiatives and more
Leadership in extraordinary times requires both vision and investment in order to flourish. Saïd Business School continues to benefit from the generosity of its donors in helping us to provide academic excellence and a crucible for purposeful leadership — and while the challenges of 2020 have bitten us all, we have successfully raised £10.5m this year to support those goals.
This year has had a somewhat different flavour in terms of fundraising, with the annual Giving Day put on hold to concentrate on encouraging regular donations, and the launch of the Dean’s Response Fund to support and serve the Oxford Saïd Service Corps. The Service Corps provides select MBA students with a living stipend while they undertake internships and consulting projects in organisations needing help to cope with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Other future remits for the Fund include supporting student entrepreneurs through the Oxford Foundry and offering more scholarships to strengthen our already diverse student body.
For Associate Director of Fundraising, Anna Baskerville, the Fund exemplifies commitment to the future, in a year that has highlighted the need for global answers and visionary leaders. ‘The launch really caught the imaginations of alumni,’ she says. ‘As part of a ‘build back better’ strategy following Covid-19, it has helped 33 students to date.’
Elsewhere, foundations, corporates and individual alumni have all contributed vital funds that allow the School to continue to build on its inclusivity, vision, world-class research and teaching community. The School announced its partnership with the Laidlaw Foundation, which signed a £1.35m gift agreement to fund MBA scholarships for women, the first of which will be taken up by Oxford MBA applicants in 2021.
Susanna V Kempe, CEO of the Laidlaw Foundation and Chair of Laidlaw Schools Trust, says: ‘Our aim is to propel more women into leadership roles by giving extraordinary women, who would not otherwise be able to afford an MBA, access to Oxford Saïd’s exceptional programme and network.’
This gift will not only enable the progression of more female leaders of the future, but help the School itself to build on its current position as Europe’s most gender-balanced MBA, with a student body that currently stands at 47 per cent female.
‘MBA women’s scholarships are of huge importance to us, as well as moving the agenda on gender equality,’ says Baskerville, who cites 2020’s two other significant female-focused philanthropic additions. These are the generous funding of a career development fellow in Women’s Leadership by Jane Sie Sun, CEO of Trip.com Group, for which Dr Joana Probert took up the inaugural post in July, and the newly Eni-funded Research Fellow, Yuni Wen, whose work focuses on the regulatory challenges arising from digital innovation and reputational risks associated with AI. Both are a fitting sign of progress for 2020, which marks 100 years since women become eligible for admission as full members of the University of Oxford.
Consortiums and research groups such as the Oxford Future of Real Estate Initiative and the Oxford Future of Marketing Initiative also continue to thrive, joined this year by the addition of the Oxford Initiative on Rethinking Performance.
Scholarship provision is also moving forward strongly, with African students a key focus, building on the pledge made by Dean Professor Peter Tufano at the 2014 World Economic Forum on Africa to have at least 10 per cent of Oxford Saïd’s MBA students from that continent. Since the MBA class of 2016, we are proud to have had more than 11 per cent of each MBA cohort hailing from Africa, and we continue to build on that this year with the establishment of the Eni-Oxford Africa Scholarship Programme and an African MBA scholarship endowed by Hasmukh Patel.
For the diversity of talent coming through from the wider Oxford student population, the Oxford Foundry provides a powerful centre of innovation and entrepreneurship. Established in 2017 by the School, the Foundry was created to upskill the ethical leaders and teams of the future. Within that, venture capital firm Oxford Sciences Innovation, Oxford’s lively inter-college ideas competition, All-Innovate, focused on creating early-stage venture ideas to help tackle the world’s greatest challenges and further our collective progress. Blockchain technology provider Ripple joined as a partner this year to create a new Tech Series, offering up to 1,000 Oxford students the chance to gain new skills in blockchain, AI and machine learning across different industries.
The Global Leadership Centre, the School’s flagship capital project, to be based in the Osney Power Station, continues to move forward. It is the School’s vision to create a space in which to catalyse transformative learning and bring leaders from business, government and civil society together with academics. Set in motion through a £15m gift by our founder Wafic Saïd last year, the landmark building will house an ‘agora’ meeting space, flexible classrooms with associated breakout spaces, a library and state-of-the-art digital learning facilities for the business leaders of the future.
WORDS: ANNA MELVILLE-JAMES