I’ve always dreamt of studying at Oxford University, and that dream came true when I began my studies at Saïd Business School.
After being accepted onto the Postgraduate Diploma in Organisational Leadership, I was initially reluctant to start the course immediately due to work and family commitments, as well as the cost of the course. However, after considering the potential benefits of the course, I decided to begin my studies in February 2020.
The Oxford Diploma in Organisational Leadership proved to be one of the best academic experiences that I have ever had. Not only from an academic perspective, but also practically, in terms of the ability to apply my learnings on a personal and professional level. I was able to immediately implement some of the valuable leadership skills in my role – be it through strategic leadership, personal and organisational resilience, building high quality connections, change management or motivating employees. And the timing couldn’t have been more perfect as we faced the challenges and turbulence brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. This meant that we had to make swift adjustments and decisions on both a professional and personal level, at work and at home.
One of the most fascinating things about this course was that I learnt as much from the rich experience of my classmates as I did from my professors – a rare quality compared to the vast majority of academic experiences. I was extremely privileged to be part of a cohort of over 50 global leaders from all over the world and from a variety of disciplines. Be it the scientists who were helping to produce vaccines in the labs, professors who were teaching graduate schools, CEOs leading multinational companies, or entrepreneurs building great companies – I couldn’t have asked for a more diverse or remarkable cohort to be part of.
Another interesting personal reflection is my unique experience as a Class Representative for our cohort. Little did I know that only one month after starting the programme, the pandemic would disturb our studies and the role of the Class Representative would become far more important than I had realised. I found myself working closely with the University and the School to adjust our course dates, mentoring and coaching colleagues whose careers and plans had been significantly impacted by Covid-19, motivating my peers and trying to find consensus amongst their differing views. Nonetheless, upon reflection, this was indeed another opportunity for me to sharpen my leadership, listening and management skills, and I cherish every moment. I am deeply humbled to have had the opportunity to represent them as a Class Representative, and I’m so grateful for the overwhelming trust they have shown in me, despite the difficult, albeit greatly rewarding, moments we had to endure.
On the one hand, the Diploma in Organisational Leadership was a huge intellectual roller-coaster and the exciting academic journey Oxford is known for. On the other hand, the pandemic was a timely coincidence that positively tested our leadership abilities to deal with ambiguity and crisis when there are equally important competing demands – work, family and studies.
Both my peers and I are so thrilled that our hard work and perseverance have finally paid off. I am immensely proud to have completed the Oxford Postgraduate Diploma in Organisational Leadership with such a diverse team of leaders. Special thanks to my dear family for their continued love and inspiration, and to Oxford Saïd for the wonderful academic and social experience.
Finally, to those who want to see their Oxford dream fulfilled, I would say don’t be scared about the prospect of getting here, but rather be excited by the very achievement of being accepted and the many benefits and exclusive global network that come with it.
About the Author
Jama is a Senior Consultant providing tailored consultancy services on organisational leadership, strategy, project/portfolio management, and project evaluations. He has almost 15 years’ experience in leading and managing development/humanitarian programmes, and corporates across Africa and the Middle East. In the past, he has worked with international development companies/INGOs, such as DAI Global, Adam Smith International, Mercy Corps, and Oxfam International. His private sector experience includes his most recent role as the Regional Director, East and Central Africa, for Dahabshiil Group of Companies. Jama is also a social entrepreneur, co-founding organisations like Inspire Group Africa and Primmo Consulting.