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Scholar Blog: approaching the MBA from a non-profit perspective

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In this series of Scholar Blogs, online our four Skoll Scholars for 2014-15 tell us what shaped their journey toward doing an MBA, link and give their first impressions of how it feels to be starting their MBA course at Saïd Business School. 

Nora Petty has spent the past seven years committed to ending deaths caused by malaria. In order to reach underserved populations, viagra order she designed and led innovative public-private partnerships to reduce prices and increase availability of malaria diagnostic tests and medicines in private sector outlets. Through these programmes, millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa have been able to afford high-quality, life-saving treatments.

If someone had told me seven years ago that I would be attending business school, I would have responded with laughter.  I was passionate about global public heath, which was not something I associated with business. However, after a few years working to improve access to malaria diagnostics and treatment in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa I began to realize that the private sector actually plays a key role in this area. I discovered that some of the greatest hurdles in public health are directly connected to core business principles: marketing, distribution, and financial sustainability.

It became clear to me that I would benefit greatly from an MBA, but I was still unsure if I would fit into the ecosystem of a business school. I had heard stories from friends who found it difficult to find their way during the transition from the non-profit culture to the business administration classroom.

As I walked to the door on the first day of The Oxford Launch Programme, my mind was buzzing. Would I be the “business school hippy?” Would I be able to find the appropriate subjects, activities, and mentors relevant to my socially minded aspirations?

Now, after only one month in Oxford at Said Business School, my fears have been dispelled. I quickly discovered that neither my experiences nor my aspirations were unusual here. In fact, many of my classmates have worked in the social impact space, started their own businesses, and lived in developing countries. Those from other disciplines and sectors bring so much knowledge to the table.

I was additionally dazzled by  the array of events hosted at the business school related to social impact, entrepreneurship and healthcare in Africa. The OneStart competition  was particularly exciting.  I was introduced to an Oxford graduate who has developed a new point-of-care test for anemia. As a student in Oxford I experience unlimited access to more informal avenues of interacting with inspiring and likeminded individuals. Meet-ups with fellow classmates interested in global health are a regular activity. The breadth of opportunity to attend panel discussions with inspiring female leaders; lunchtime chats with social entrepreneurs, and conferences throughout the year.

It is clear now that the challenge going forward for me is not whether I should be here, but how I should define my time in a forum with so much opportunity at my fingertips.