Completing two terms of my Oxford MBA from 5,000 miles away
I posted my first blog about my Oxford MBA in late November 2020, after completing Michaelmas term remotely. I wrote about how excited I was to finally be planning to come to Oxford in January for Hilary term. Unfortunately, that was when the more contagious variant swept across the United Kingdom, meaning another lockdown and forcing the Saïd Business School to teach all classes remotely. I decided to delay my arrival for a few weeks until the lockdown was lifted. Those few weeks turned into months, and I am writing this from California, over 5,000 miles from campus.
Completing the first two terms of the MBA program from the other side of the world has presented its challenges. I have taken classes and given presentations at 3 am., and I have had to coordinate meetings with teammates across multiple time zones. As difficult as this has been for me (and my classmates), I think in some ways it has also pushed me to really value the connections that I have been able to make and have even bigger ideas and ambitions.
The highlight of my MBA education so far has been the connections that I have been able to make both inside and outside of the school. During Michaelmas and Hilary, MBA students are assigned five-person study teams. My eight teammates have come from eight different countries: China, India, Italy, Iran, Germany, Nigeria, Thailand and the UK, and have eight completely unique stories. These students are also eight of the most talented, ambitious, thoughtful and hard-working people that I have had the opportunity to collaborate with. Outside of class, I have also utilized my connections with the Skoll Centre to connect with potential investors, like the Oxford Angel Fund group, to pitch my venture. I have also been fortunate to have found an amazing Oxford alumn who works in EdTech to mentor me. Even though I am physically so far away, I have never felt more surrounded by like-minded, supportive people.
This unique situation has also made me think on larger scale. During the second block of Hilary and the first block of Trinity, we complete an Entrepreneurship Project. My group’s project builds upon Positive Physics, which started as a classroom website for my students in South Memphis, Tennessee, and grew into an EdTech venture that now reaches over 30,000 students in over 600 classrooms and generates significant revenue. The bigger lesson that I have learned is that there are local teachers around the world who are doing incredible things in their classroom and we can use technology to make them more efficient and scale their impact. I feel quite fortunate to have recruited an incredibly talented team of classmates who believe in the vision. I intentionally recruited a very diverse group, with teammates from Australia, India and Zimbabwe to join me on this project. Each person brings their own talents, insight and experiences from their own countries and working together we are striving to make our vision a reality.
And it is with cautious optimism that I can say that I am excited to be planning to arrive in Oxford for the start of Trinity. I can’t wait to experience Oxford and to meet face-to-face all of these amazing people (and to have class at normal hours). Fingers crossed.
The Skoll Scholarship is a fully funded competitive scholarship for incoming MBA students to Saïd Business School, University of Oxford, who pursue entrepreneurial solutions for urgent social and environmental challenges. Find out more and apply for the next Oxford MBA cohort today.